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Blog entry by Joseph Gitau

My top 10 study tips

Tip 1: What is important?

Don’t expect to read everything on your topic – it would take a lifetime! Be an – think about what you want to find out before you start. Choose a few texts to read thoroughly rather than trying to skim read many. If you find that all the books on the reading list have been taken out, ask the library staff for help to find something that will be equally useful.

Make useful notes, not copious ones – if you try to write down everything the teacher says you won’t be able to focus on listening. Take notes on selected points and underline or highlight the important ones to make them more obvious. Add any thoughts of your own that arise, but make it clear that they’re your own ideas. Check what’s going to be in the handouts – you may not need to note things like dates and figures.

Tip 2: Use technology to help you

There are lots of different ways that we can use technology to help us in our studies; from making sure school or tutor communication are sent to your private account to recording lecture notes on mobile devices or using bibliographic software to manage references.

Tip 3: Ask, Ask, Ask

Know when to ask for help – and where to get it – there’s a lot to get used to when you come to university, and no-one finds it all easy. One of your most important responsibilities is to yourself – to recognise when you need help and to know where to get it. There are plenty of people whose job is to help you get yourself sorted. You can talk to your personal tutor, a Study Adviser, a Counsellor

Tip 4: Studying at the right times of the day

Find your perfect ‘study time’ – Some people are ready to go from the movement they wake up, whilst others remember the most at around 3am in a silent library. Experiment with different times so you can figure out what suits you.

Tip 5: Best places to study

It is counterproductive to study for extended hours at a time in an uncomfortable environment. For this reason, you should find a place to study that is comfortable. You want to make sure you do not suffer any back, wrist, or other physical discomfort while you study. Even small discomforts can eventually result in more serious physical problems. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have all the materials you need to study, such as pens and books, nearby your study area.

It’s also good idea to study in a well lit area since it can be difficult to study with poor lighting even if the environment is perfect. Studying in the basement of library may seem the perfect location, but if there isn’t any natural light, it will have a negative effect.

Don’t study in bed – Your bed is for sleeping and watching repeats of Come Dine With Me – your brain won’t be switched to knowledge in-take gear if you study under your duvet.

Tip 6: Study groups: useful or not useful?

Forming a study group will make you feel less alone when you’re studying. Make sure everyone in the group is on the same page; braggers, slackers, and super-stressed people won’t make you feel any better.

Tip 7: Flashcards

 We all find it hard to adapt to being more independent and working more critically and efficiently.  Attending a Skills Workshop to get new ideas from the staff and other students (including us, your Skills Leaders) is a great way to learn about alternative study techniques.

Many students are visual learners which means just reading something over and over again isn’t going to cut it. Visual learners need sights, images and visual concepts to make things stick. Organising your material into charts, maps and diagrams. Websites such as Brainscape, Anki, Memrise can help with this.

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