10 tips for effective studying
The most important tip of all: use a day planner! It doesn't matter if it's a paper planner or a digital planner. Plan all your lectures and tutorials in it, as well as your social events and sports activities, and your deadlines. Once everything is in the planner, then you will have a good overview of everything. That will give you peace of mind and you won’t have to worry about when you need to start studying, writing an essay, etc. If you also use the planner for fun activities, then you are less likely to see your planner as something negative.
The more structured your weekly routine is, the easier it is to study at certain times and on certain days. It means you don't have to keep forcing yourself to go to the library, and instead you can put all your energy into the actual studying.
Try to align your study rhythm with your biorhythm: are you a morning person or an evening person? Try to plan your studying to suit your natural rhythm as much as possible.
Make sure you find a study spot that works for you. Maybe that is a room with a tidy desk, or at the kitchen table, or perhaps a workplace in the library with some background noise. Try out different places, and find out which one works best for you.
Try using the ’10-minute rule’. Make a deal with yourself that you will study for at least 10 minutes. Once you get started, you often find it is not as bad as you thought, and you study for much longer.
Set clear goals that are easy to achieve. When you achieve a goal: reward yourself.
Tell friends and family when you are going to study. Ask them to remind you to study and to support you.
Don't study for too long in the same manner but change the type of studying activities (reading, summarising, doing exercises).
Prepare for lectures: what subjects are going to be discussed? Take a quick look at the relevant chapter/book beforehand. Scan the text. Look at the tables and diagrams. What do I already know about this subject? If possible, take a look at a presentation from the previous year beforehand.
If you are studying a book or article: don't start reading straightaway, but look at how the book/article is structured first. Read the cover notes and the table of contents. Look at pictures, diagrams, bold text, summaries. What questions come to mind?
Don't expect to be able to study effectively for hours at a time: on average, people can concentrate properly for about 45 minutes. Everything you study after that is not absorbed as effectively. In order to study effectively, a lot of short breaks are just as important as the actual studying of the subject matter. Try using the Pomodoro technique, for example, which there are lots of smartphone apps for.
Do something completely different when you take a break, like go for a short walk, make a drink, chat to somebody, or do a mindfulness or relaxation exercise.
Stay focused during lectures by making notes. Don't try to keep up with the lecturer and make notes of everything, but just make a mind map for example. If the lecturer has put a PowerPoint presentation online beforehand, then print it out or download it onto your laptop so it is easy to make extra notes during the lecture.
It can help if you arrange to study with someone else. This increases the chance you will actually study, you will help each other to stay focused, and it makes sure you have some social interaction during breaks. Try explaining the subject matter to fellow students or friends now and again.
By asking questions to yourself during studying, you will absorb the subject matter more easily. Take a look at old test papers, for example, and think up similar questions for yourself about the topics you are studying.
There are all types of training courses available for people who have difficulty with studying. Check out the website for the latest training courses and workshops on offer. If you have doubts about your study choice, your study planning, or other study-related issues, you can always make an appointment with the study advisor. Click here for the contact details for each faculty.