So you’ve started university, but you’re finding this whole independent study thing a bit hard. I mean, who can blame you? Uni is a time full of opportunities. You have societies to join, new friends to make, places to explore and it’s easy to get distracted. But unfortunately, the essays won’t write themselves. Here are 10 study tips that will help make you a better student – without sacrificing the fun!
1. Take your butt to the library for more time efficient study.
Study tip number one may sound obvious, but we all know what it’s like when you’re sat at your own desk at home. It’s hard not to check your phone every now and then, right? And if you want a cup of coffee, your kettle is right downstairs! With Netflix on your laptop, Instagram on your phone, and your friends down the hall, it can be hard to study at home.
It might be hard at first, but dragging yourself to the library will pay off in the long run, especially if you put your phone on silent and leave it in your bag. The quiet environment makes it easy to focus and of course, you have all the resources you need around you. You may also find that practicing this focused study in the library will eventually make it easier to do at home.
2. Invest in an academic year wall planner.
Have you ever had that feeling that an assignment has somehow managed to sneak up on you? You won’t if you have a wall planner. An academic wall planner will have a square for every day of the year; meaning that you can see every assignment you have coming up months in advance. This makes it easy to plan, and much harder for things to creep up on you.
3. Keep your workspace clear and organised.
Easier said than done. When you’re a busy student, piles of notes can get taller and taller and your line of coffee cups longer and longer. But if you put five minutes each day into maintaining a clear and organised workspace, you will see the benefits. A clear workspace not only makes it easy to think, focus, and find what you’re looking for, but having a desk that is actually nice to sit at is going to make you want to study more in the first place.
4. Break up your tasks into bite-sized chunks.
There’s nothing worse than being given an assignment and feeling like it’s too big of a job for you to ever get done. By breaking it up into small, manageable chunks, you can make these mammoth tasks feel less intimating. You might also find it helpful to make a little assignment to-do list, so you can tick off the mini-tasks as you go and visually see your progress.
5. Keep all your past feedback to refer to later.
When we get uni work back, many people tend to check the mark and notes, and then cast it aside. But actually, this is the last thing you want to be doing if you want to build and improve on your marks. Instead, buy a file or folder specifically to keep your university feedback in. Before each assignment, have a look at what your lecturers have said about your last one. Doing this will help you to keep in mind the things you need to improve on while you’re working on your current essays.
6. Plan ahead to avoid stressful, ‘all-nighter’ situations.
This study tip is basically an extension of getting a wall planner. Once you notice that you’ve got some deadlines coming up, make sure you are planning ahead for them. You might find that essays sometimes come in a cluster, with two or three due around the same day. If this is the case, you might want to make yourself some ‘false’ deadlines in order to space out your work so you get it all done in time without having any rushed, stressful situations on your hands.
7. Swap the sugar for healthy snacks with slow-release energy.
Okay, we know you love chocolate, but hear us out. Cutting down on foods that are very high in sugar doesn’t mean your snacks can’t be treats. By swapping your chocolate bar for something like a Trek bar, you’re still getting something sweet and tasty. It will release energy slowly, meaning that it will keep you full and refreshed for longer rather than giving you a sugar crash somewhere down the line. This is good for study as it means that you’ll be able to stay focused for longer.
8. Invest in highlighters, coloured pens, or whatever works for you.
People are realising more and more that for a lot of people, studying is a very visual experience. Colours that help highlight or separate information can make a page seem more approachable than if it’s written in plain black. You can do this in different ways; writing in different coloured fine liners, having a multi-tip Biro that you can change the colour of, or going over your plain writing with a highlighter pen afterward. Or you might prefer to do it on your laptop! Whatever it is, find out what works visually for you, and invest in it.
9. Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise.
This is a study tip that has multiple layers. It is, of course, important to prioritise studying over things like watching Netflix or going out with friends for the third time in a week. However, it’s actually also important to prioritise the assignments within your uni work. Work out which assignments are worth the most percentage-wise, figure out how soon each piece is due, and from this, make sure that the work that really matters is getting the time it deserves.
10. Take short reward breaks… lots of them.
Yes, you read that right, lots of breaks! But try to keep them fairly short. For most people, it is actually better to work for short bursts of time with breaks in between rather than working for hours and then having a longer break. To be at your most efficient, take lots of little breaks in order to keep yourself refreshed and focused.
What study tips work best for you as a student!? Share in the comments below!
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Harriet is a 22 year old English graduate from the University of Southampton. When she's not writing, she's crafting, weight lifting, or continuing her search to find the world's best vegan brownie recipe. Like most other 22-year-olds, her other interests include dogs and Instagram.