Study skills

 Related: Starting University


Study tips

Tip 1: Have a good place to study

  • Have a place to study that is pleasant, comfortable, peaceful and distraction free

Tip 2: Be motivated

  • Have a clear purpose for learning
  • Set specific study goals and expectations
  • Focus on the present task— give it your undivided attention
  • Look after yourself and arrange for rewards
  • Take responsibility for your own learning

Tip 3: Know what’s coming up

  • On a semester planner, write in all course assessment due dates (you can pick Semester Planners up from the library)
  • Stick the semester planner on a wall or other place where you will refer to it regularly
  • This will help visually show you when to get started on assessments in advance, and when heavy and light assessment periods are  

Tip 4: Organise study around your body clock

  • Use morning/afternoon/evening energy levels according to your ‘best’ time
  • Aim for a series of short study sessions with regular breaks
  • Take time to exercise and to rest

Tip 5: Review information regularly – avoid cramming  

  • Put lecture review times (within 24 hours of each lecture) into a weekly planner (you can pick one up from the library)
  • At these times, review lecture notes, associated readings etc, and fill in anything missing from your notes or understanding on the topic.
  • Overlearn through repetition, reprocessing and frequent reviews
  • Focus on active recall (e.g. testing yourself, asking questions, practice exercises)
  • Look for opportunities to use and rehearse the information e.g. discuss the topic in a study group, PASS session (if available), or teach someone else
  • Make the most of “down-times” (e.g. waiting for the bus) to do a quick review/recall

Tip 6: “Do something” with information to get it into the memory, and to aid understanding 

  • Break information into manageable chunks
  • Adopt a “top-down” approach—start with key concepts, then add sub-topics, then detail.
  • Build on what you know already—look for connections between “old” and “new” information
  • Group information into meaningful categories—look for underlying patterns and links
  • Aim to understand information
  • Reprocess” information—convert your notes into another format (eg create a diagram, write a summary, talk about the topic, go to look at types of plants/recreation facilities etc)
  • Try to use all senses, auditory, visual, tactile, kinaesthetic, even though you may have your own preferred style of learning
  • Use a variety of memory techniques — experiment! (e.g.mnemonics, visualisation, association S3R, mind maps, taping )                  

Tip 7: Practise answering real test and exam questions

  • Practise whatever type of ‘output’ will be required in tests and exams (so, for example, if your exam has essay questions, practise writing essays when you study)
  • Check after each review activity that your recall was accurate and complete

Other resources:

Starting university

Managing Academic Study

Lectures and notes

Taking notes in lectures

Taking notes from readings

Effective Reading

Other resources on reading

Improving Reading Efficiency

Note-taking (University of Otago;)

Managing your computer files and data  

Exams skills

Other resources