10 Study Tips for Students That Will Prepare You for University
Searching for study tips and learning how to revise more efficiently can seem like a bit of a pointless exercise – after all, the time you spend learning how to take better notes could be spent taking the notes themselves.
It is well worth putting the time into honing your studying technique before you go to university, though, as it will help you keep up in lectures, finish your work efficiently and give you more time to explore your new city, make new friends and enjoy everything else uni has to offer. With that in mind, we’ve put together our top ten study tips for students – if you master these now, we’re sure you’ll thank us later.
1. Preview, then review – Previewing the relevant information ahead of time in textbooks, articles, or slides can help you better understand what you are learning in lectures and which questions you need to ask. Also, reviewing the content regularly allows you to consolidate your work and keeps you ready to learn new concepts that require prior knowledge.
2. Create your own note-taking system – Taking notes helps your revision, especially before exams – rereading your notes is much easier than rereading the whole textbook! However, you need to take notes in an organised way so that you can locate materials easily – if you take your notes on random bits of scrap paper, you are unlikely to find all of your notes when you come to revise.
One way to keep everything organised is taking notes on a laptop or tablet so you can save everything in folders (for example, by subject and term), to make them easier to find. Digital notes also allow you to search for keywords, saving even more time.
That said, some studies show handwriting notes can help you retain information, so it’s important to find a balance that works best for you.
3. Plan your study time – If you create a daily routine and study at the same time every day, it will become a natural part of your life. You will be mentally prepared to learn and become more productive. Also, studying earlier in the day can limit distractions and lend you more willpower. Because lots of social events take place in the evening, spending more time studying earlier in the day will give you more time to socialise.
You might find it helpful to write a to-do list every day, so you know what you’re aiming to get done. You could colour-code tasks into different priorities, so you can easily see which tasks need doing first, and which you can leave to another day if necessary.
4. Set goals and focus on one thing at a time – If you set specific goals, you’ll know exactly what you are studying for. Having direction makes your study sessions more effective, but bear in mind that your goal needs to be realistic, so you won’t get discouraged.
What’s more, it’s important to stay focused on one thing at a time. Research has indicated that multitasking actually increases the time needed to learn and decreases the quality of learning!
5. Take breaks – Your brain gets tired if you don’t take enough breaks. Studying for hours without taking a break can mean your attention levels decrease and your mind doesn’t work as well.
Dividing long study sessions into several shorter sessions can be more effective. One classic technique is the Pomodoro method: focus for 25-30 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. After 4 repeating sessions, take a longer break for 15 or 20 minutes. This can definitely help to keep your mind sharp, and there are apps that can keep your timings on track.
6. Create a suitable studying environment – You will be much more productive in an environment that helps you focus with fewer distractions. Try to find a quiet desk and minimise distractions by only putting study materials on the desk.
You can also help your brain get into study mode by creating specific environmental cues. For example, you may avoid doing other activities in the same space you use to study, like making sure you don’t browse social media or start watching a movie at your desk. You could even decide on some clothes that you only wear while you’re studying.
7. Give yourself some rewards – If you have difficulties motivating yourself to study regularly, try to give yourself a reward after achieving a goal, such as eating your favourite snacks, watching an episode of a TV show or going for a walk with friends.
These rewards can give you motivation to complete a specific task. You can also try to break down your tasks into smaller, more achievable goals to increase the likelihood of achieving your ultimate aim and feeling in control.
8. Use study groups – There are many benefits to studying in groups. You can get help from others when you are confused, and having someone around can increase your motivation and reduce your chances of getting distracted. What’s more, you have the opportunity to teach others, which helps to consolidate your own knowledge.
However, keep in mind that study groups can be ineffective if they are unstructured, members are unprepared or you all distract each other by chatting. Make sure everyone is on the same page when you set up the group and keep each other accountable.
9. Ask for help when you need it – Asking for help can be tricky, or make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s an incredibly important part of learning and you should never feel ashamed of asking questions. Asking for help does not mean that you failed anything. You’re actually helping yourself to achieve your goal.
Besides, pretending everything is fine and putting problems off can increase your stress and anxiety, which makes it harder for you to perform well.
10. Get enough sleep and exercise – Finally, it’s important to take good care of yourself and get enough sleep and exercise. If you feel well and are healthy, you will find focusing and information retention is much easier.
It’s important that you don’t feel overly tired from late-night studies or watching films at midnight. Try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep and go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day, so your body gets used to this rhythm. If you want to find out more about the benefits getting enough sleep can bring to your studies, check out our blog post here.
Exercise massively benefits your physical health, but it improves your mental wellbeing as well. You release endorphins when you move, which is good for your mood. Also, exercise allows you to take a break from work and clear your head. It’s recommended you get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
We know from experience that sticking to all of these study tips 100% of the time is near-impossible for any student. If you find the tips that help you the most, however, and make them part of your studying routine before you head to university, you’ll find keeping up with the workload and social side of uni far easier.
- Still trying to adjust to studying at home? Lots of the above tips still apple, but we’ve also come up with a list of five ways you can stay productive while studying from home
- Looking to optimise your studies ahead of university? Check out our range of Online Courses and Summer School Programmes
- Studying effectively is important, but your mental health should be your priority. Take a look at UCAS’s tips to maintaining your mental health as a student
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