It makes sense to make your university experience as pain-free as possible, right?
Of course, we all start out with the best of intentions, but it’s easy to let things slip, especially when your social life becomes - shall we say - colourful.
Study resources exist to help you achieve your goals. Finding a good work/life balance is really important to ensure that you achieve at uni, and that you look after your wellbeing. Deadlines, exams, hunting the best grades, keeping up with reading and finding study resources can all be stressful - so we’re here to help you get organised and avoid the heavy load that comes with being a fly-by-night, haphazard student!
Here are some amazing study resources for students that you should consider using:
- General study tools
Study tools can make all the difference when it’s time to get your head down. Consider using some of these:
- Quizlet - a free learning tool and digital flashcard reservoir where you can either use existing flashcards to study a topic or create your own!
- StudyStack - like Quizlet, offers existing flashcards or the option to make your own.
- Evernote - a digital notebook with amazing features, like the ability to scan documents, sync notes, create note-taking templates, and more.
- Grammarly - a vital tool offering writing corrections across multiple platforms from social media to emails and Google documents.
- Time management advice
Managing your time at uni will prove to be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. Therefore it’s really important to be proactive and make plans to help yourself:
- Goal setting - it’s always good to map out your goals and actually write them down. This will help you chart the steps you need to take to achieve them, and prioritise your most important tasks.
- Scheduling tools - student life is hectic, and forgetting things can easily happen. Using a digital calendar can really help to keep you organised and punctual - you don’t want to miss your meetings, assignments and deadlines. Google Calendar is a great example.
- To-do-list - have a list on your cork board or wall or bedroom door - and make sure it’s in priority order, ready to be ticked off!
- Learn to say no! - this is much more difficult than it seems, but you must learn to say no when you have an important deadline and your friends want you to go to the pub. Balance your work time with your social life and you’ll be just fine.
- Take breaks - nobody ever worked themselves to death and benefited from it. Take breaks so that you can relax and refuel.
- Get some sleep - it’s a standing joke that students hardly sleep, but the fact of the matter is this: you need to! You need your brain to be functioning in the daytime if you are going to achieve your potential.
- Stress management tips
Stress can lead to all sorts of problems, mental and physical. Not only are you managing important deadlines at uni, but you are possibly living in brand new circumstances with people you don’t know that well. You need to help yourself avoid stress at all costs.
Here’s a few tips:
- Try to exercise regularly - it’ll aid your mental health
- Write down things you need to so you feel more organised
- Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings to someone - there is lots of provision at uni to get support
- Take breaks and allocate time to rest!
We aren’t always at the peak of our concentration. That’s a fact. But there are things we can do to improve:
- Become a listener - active listening is listening with all your senses. Communicating with those you are listening to through body language will help you stay attentive and internalise the messages being communicated.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness - there are various kinds of meditation and mindfulness, but the overall idea is to use and focus on your breath to relax and remain in the present. A good way to start meditating is to try 5 minutes a day or so, or try an app like Headspace to help get you going and track your progress.
- Note-taking tips
Note-taking skills are more important than ever at uni, especially since you’ll be in lectures and seminars that require you to scribble away and record the information your lecturers impart. Here’s how you can help yourself:
- Use a new page - make things easy for yourself by beginning your notes for a new lecture or seminar on a new page with the title of the subject matter and date displayed clearly - this will aid your study and revision massively.
- Leave some room for more notes - leave some additional space for you to make further notes when you come to review your lecture scribbles.
- Edit your notes - it’s hard to get everything down in a fast paced lecture, so consider rewriting your notes when you get home. This will also help the information sink in, of course.
- Compare notes - don’t be afraid to compare notes with a friend, or even reference textbooks and lecture materials to ensure you got the information right.
- Essay Writing
When it comes to essay writing, don’t leave it until the last minute, ask for help and don’t procrastinate. Here are some more tips to help you:
- Make sure you understand the brief - take time to read the brief, underline key words and ask for help if you can’t get it round your head.
- Create an Outline - think about an essay structure and map it out so it helps you visualise tackling the essay in manageable stages.
- Edit! - editing is a vital part of the process if you want to get things right, so leave yourself enough time to review your work and make changes.
- Build muscle memory
Many students panic about exams, but there are things you can do to help you revise more effectively:
- Flash cards - use flash cards to record information because it will help you deal with the stuff you need to learn in manageable chunks, and just the process of writing them will aid your memory!
- Repetition - it’s a pretty simple formula - the more you repeat information, the better you will remember!
- Mind maps - these are great because they really help you to retain information with images, colors, symbols or words to help remember associated words and ideas.
- Teach someone else - teaching someone else - maybe a friend from the same course - is sure to aid your own memory of the information!
- Exam technique
Doing exams can be overwhelming, but if you follow these best practices, they can be a lot less stressful:
- Timing - get a good night’s sleep, arrive early, settle down and keep your eye on the clock throughout the exam so you know how long to spend on each question or section.
- Read the instructions carefully - don’t brush over exam directions because you might end up answering the wrong questions, too many questions, too few questions, or doing the wrong part of the paper completely. Allow yourself five minutes to read them very carefully.
- Answer everything - once you’ve determined what questions you need to answer, make sure you complete them all. Don’t spend ages on the first questions and leave nothing for the end questions because they are likely to be worth more marks. Have a go, even if you don’t think you’re right.
- Memory dump - it’s not for everyone, but some people like to start their test with a memory dump, or writing down the equations, dates, and important information they feel they might need to remember throughout the exam.
We hope you found those tips useful, and that you can put them into practice at uni.
More importantly than anything, find a work/life balance so you get the very best out of your university experience.
Here are some more tips for you:
- Study something you love
- Set achievable and realistic goals
- Don’t get wrapped up in the hedonistic lifestyle so often associated with students
- Take a break now and again
- Schedule time for friends and fun
- Help one another!