Student Life

13 Must Know Study Tips for University

Published by Afterschool.my on Feb 27, 2020, 01:41 pm

Now that you have enrolled in university, many of you are curious as to how university life would be. It’s very different from secondary school and one of them is how you study. Some of you are learning in higher institutions far away from your house and living with housemates. You may not be under the watchful eyes of your parents but you’ll be learning how to study independently and effectively without your parents constantly reminding you. The other difference between university and school is that there are some subjects that don’t have exams. That doesn’t mean that you won’t study for it!  If you’re not good with exams or studying, it’s never too late to learn some great tips on how to make studying better. 

Take good notes during the lecture

Good Notes

When you take good notes, it would help you to study effectively for exams - Image via Slideshare.net, Aiden Yeh

While this may seem like an obvious point, many students are reduced to groggy, sleepy zombies that would more likely see drool on their paper from falling asleep on it rather than any actual writing. Pay attention during the lecture and take down good, organised notes. Start a new page for every new lecture. Grab key words and concepts that the lecturer mentions (You won’t have time to copy down full sentences). Then, when class is over, expand on the notes you took down, giving you a second run-through of the same lecture.

Gather all your notes in one spot


taking lecture notes

Putting all your notes into one spot will save your time when revising for exams, instead finding them at the very last minute - Image via Pinterest.com (Jodi Lemoine)

How common is the sight of Xeroxed papers all thrown about, carpeting your room floor (Hey, at least you HAVE a carpet now, right?). Then, one night before the big exam, you spend a good hour tracking down the one sheet of paper on which you wrote down that one very important point on. Save time and keep all your notes tidy and neat, arranging them in folders and if possible, according to subjects or even teachers. That way, you know exactly where every single sheet is.

Group study

group study

If you are considering forming a study group, don’t discuss about your favourite movies unless it’s related to the topic of your study

Now this one is not for everyone. However, many students who say group studying is not for them may have never even tried it. Get some of your batchmates to get together, and give it a shot. You have to be really disciplined of course, and find people who are willing to work instead of goof off. But you may find that the members end up teaching and pushing each other to achieve some remarkable grades. Either way, don’t totally discard it until you’ve tried it.

Get somebody to test you

testing skills

Asking your friend or classmate to test you might help you remember better - Image  via nextweb.com

Don’t be the nervous wreck who’s too afraid to ask someone to test him, worried you’ll get some questions wrong, and thus making you question if you studied anything at all. Almost no one gets a perfect score, and people tend to learn the most through mistakes. Who knows, a question your friend poses to you that you end up answering incorrectly, may even come out for an exam, and this time, you’d know the answer for sure!

Learn the basic concepts first

basic concepts

In order to solve complicated problems later in the workplace, one must grasp the basics - Image via ludensfaber.wordpress.com

It’s tempting to jump ahead to the more complicated stuff, the content that’s more directly related to what you’ll be doing after graduation. For example, a year one medical student taking on a 3rd year medical book such as Harrison’s Internal Medicine. Don’t be that student. It always helps to master your basics before anything else. One you have a strong base, even if you encounter difficulties later on, the base will be there to break your fall and help you get back up again faster.

Vary the way you study

how to be productive

How well you study depends on what kind of person you are. Therefore, it’s better to understand yourself when strategising study techniques - Image via blog.law.uconn.edu

You might be someone that learns by doing things; in that case record yourself reading out your notes and listen to it over again. If you’re someone who remembers song lyrics easily, check to see if there are relevant podcasts available of your course. The reason many students don’t like to study (I’m looking at you!), is simply because they can’t bear to sit down on a study table for hours on end, staring at mundane, black-and-white notes, hoping to absorb something via osmosis. Well, we got news for you, change it up. That isn’t the only way to study. In university, you can try our various methods. Organise your notes into charts, maps or diagrams, if you’re a visual learner. If you are a student who can’t stay still for too long without getting fidgety, then pace up and down as you clutch that ream of notes as you study. People may think you’ve gone insane, but the marks you’ll eventually earn will mean you don’t really care if you’re actually going mad.

Find old exam papers

old exam papers

Taking mock exams might prepare you better for the real final exams since you are familiar with the format - Image via pinterest.com

Buy past test paper compilations. No, this isn’t coupled with hope that the questions will be repeated. However, taking mock exams help you figure out the exact format questions are set in, and how the actual exam will roughly look. The familiarisation will help you do your best during the actual paper.

Don’t study in bed

Don’t study in bed

Don’t ever study on your bed unless you have insomnia - Image via [email protected] Me

We know, it’s so tempting. You’re so sleepy, and tired. Your back hurts, having been lugging around heavy books all day, and now pressed against the hard-oak wood chair. You think, “I can do this. I’ll lie down on my bed and study”. Next thing you know, you’re waking up the next day. Don’t ever use your bed to study, chances are, you’ll almost definitely fall asleep.

Take Smart Study Breaks

Study breaks

Logging on to social media can be a distraction during break. A few minutes can turn into more than an hour - Image via languing.com

Remember that a break is indeed necessary. Your brain needs to recharge and your mind needs to rest. The danger is of course using Instagram, Facebook or Netflix during the period, and turning your study break into a movie marathon. One method you may have not tried: Take a 3 or 4 minute break every 30 minutes you study. Then on the 4th break, make it 4-5 minutes. Use your phone only as a stopwatch. Instead of browsing through Facebook, listen to a song on a playlist you’ve saved, or make a cup of tea/coffee.

Reward yourself


Rewarding yourself when you’re studying can help motivate you for the long term -Image via origin.com

These rewards should be only for accomplishing something substantial. Perhaps you intended to finish a large chapter of a Human Anatomy in medical school. Upon finishing, give yourself a pre-set present. Maybe a game of FIFA or two, an episode of the Big Bang Theory, or something of the like. But remember, only when you’ve finished something substantial.

Explain it to a five-year-old


Explaining what you studied can help you understand the topic in your own words instead of simply memorising every single word from the lecture notes - Image via heyuguys.com

Now, this may be something you have never tried. But, try explaining what you’ve learnt to a five/six-year-old relative or cousin. You could even ask your friend to pretend to be of that age. Now, this will force you to simplify what you’ve learnt, making it easier for yourself to easier digestion of the topic at hand, leading to you actually taking in the concepts and understanding how they work rather than just memorising them.

Find your perfect ‘study time’

Study time

What is the right time for you to study? Do you focus better in the day or night? - Image via flowjournal.org

If you know you’re a heavy sleeper, and will not wake up early the next morning to study, then don’t keep trying to do it, over and over again, failing miserably. Try staying up the previous night and complete your revision. Find whatever works best for you. Some are night owls, others early birds. Whichever category you fall into, find out soon and then use that to your advantage.

Stay positive

Stay Positive

When facing exams, make sure to stay positive and maintain a healthy lifestyle - Image via aspirehealth.corp

There is almost no point going into an exam so nervous you end up making multiple silly errors and then flunking. It’s good to be a little nervous, that’s normal. That just means you’re human. However, if it starts to severely hamper your performance, then it may be time to start putting some work into relaxing. Take deep breaths, drink water and remember, the most you can ever do, is your best. While staying late is inevitable, try and maintain a healthy lifestyle and get some sleep as well. Balance it out so if possible, you get proper sleep the day before you may have to pull an all-nighter. A healthy mind goes a long way to ensuring good grades. Stay positive!

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