10 Study Tips for Students That Will Prepare You for University

14 May, 2024

Unlocking the secret to student success often starts with mastering efficient study methods. It might seem counterintuitive to spend time learning university study tips like how to revise or take better notes when you could be using that time to study. But trust us, it’s a worthwhile investment.

It is well worth putting the time into honing your studying technique before you go to university or college 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 university students – if you master these now, we’re sure you’ll thank us later.

Top 10 university study tips

1. Preview study resources, 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

The art of taking notes is a powerful tool for mastering any subject, be it literature, physics, or more specialized fields like medical or law studies. Learning how to take notes in medical school or mastering how to make law notes are just two examples of how customizing your note-taking strategy can lead to academic success. Instead of relying solely on re-reading heavy textbooks, well-organized notes can become your best study buddy during exam times.

It’s crucial to keep your notes organized. Random scribbles on scattered pieces of paper might seem convenient in the moment, but they can turn into a chaotic mess when you’re preparing for your final revision.

Why not consider going digital? Using a laptop or tablet for note-taking allows you to neatly organize everything into specific folders. You could sort your notes by subject, term, or any other way that makes sense to you. Plus, the built-in search function on digital devices is a timesaver when you need to find that one particular note you remember jotting down. For an even more efficient system, consider diving into advanced note-taking apps like Obsidian or Notion. These apps are designed to help you construct a comprehensive “knowledge network,” acting as your personal, searchable, second brain.

However, don’t overlook the power of the pen just yet. Some studies show that handwritten notes can actually help improve memory retention. It’s all about finding the right balance – maybe type up some notes, handwrite others. Find the method that best suits your learning style.

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.

It’s also important to learn how to study during the holidays, as these periods often come with unique challenges and opportunities for learning, such as navigating family gatherings. By adapting your study routine to the holiday season, you can effectively balance your academic commitments with the joy and festivities. Whether it’s finding quiet moments amidst the celebrations or setting aside dedicated study time, integrating studying into your holiday schedule will allow you to make progress while still enjoying the holiday spirit.

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.


Group working study tip

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! There are also many great apps that can help you focus on studying

5. Take study 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”.

What is the pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple yet effective study strategy perfect for students preparing for university. Break your work into 25-minute focused segments (that’s one ‘Pomodoro’), followed by a 5-minute rest period. After you’ve smashed through four ‘Pomodoros’, it’s time for a longer break – around 15-30 minutes. This neat technique helps keep your brain fresh and makes hefty assignments or revision sessions seem less daunting.

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 rewards after achieving study goals

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.

A professor sharing university study tips with students

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

Why do you need sleep? 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 it’s easier to stay focused in class and retain information more easily.

Proper sleep brings so many benefits to your studies, so make sure 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. 

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.

Next steps for preparing for university study

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. 

Here’s some more of our favourite student resources on how study well in university:


University success starts here!

Sharpen your study skills by attending one of Oxford Scholastica Academy’s Oxford summer courses for high school students – your launchpad for university success.