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Study and your life

In order to do well at your studies you will need to develop effective skills and strategies while balancing your life outside university.

Whether you are juggling work, children or just your general day-to-day activities, the following information aims to identify, develop and enhance the study skills you need to succeed in your course.

These include managing your study time, taking notes, planning your assignments and revising for exams.

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Applying yourself to study

All the time management and organisation strategies in the world are of no use if you don't apply them. Put your plans into action and stick to them.

At the same time you should review your plans regularly so that you can make sure that they are helping you achieve your goals.

You will find it easier to stick to your timetable if you:

  • set yourself clear achievable goals
  • break a large task into smaller manageable tasks
  • stop when you plan to
  • have short regular breaks
  • use occasional rewards to help motivate you
  • review your progress regularly
  • adjust your plans as needed
Study attitudes and habits

An important element of developing your time management strategies is to consider your current attitudes to studying. This means spending some time examining:

  • your current attitude to studying
  • where you are studying
  • your approach to studying
  • things you would like to change about your current study habits
Where your time goes

Figuring out where your time goes is the first step to seeing where study can fit in a while still maintaining a healthy balance.

One way of doing this is to make a log of the times that are fixed to specific activities. That is, write down all of your activities that you must do for every hour of the day for a week. Include things like work, sleep, meals, errands, relaxation, etc.

Now, plot it on a timetable.

The next step is to calculate how many hours you will need to study.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to consider formal contact hours (i.e. lectures and tutorials) as well as support hours (i.e. readings, revision). We recommend you allocate 10-12 hours per subject in total.

Example:

  • One subject = 11 hours (i.e. 1 x 11)
  • Two subjects = 22 hours (i.e. 2 x 11)
  • Three subjects = 33 hours (i.e. 3 x 11)
  • Four subjects = 44 hours (i.e. 4 x 11)

Remember, we offer flexible study arrangements to help make study work around your lifestyle. If you find that you need a break, you can choose to reduce the number of subjects you take within a semester or even take a semester off. You can also take advantage of summer semester to spread your study load across the year or even get ahead to finish your degree sooner.

Once you have worked out where your time goes and how much free time you are likely to have, you can then look at how you might best use your time regarding the following goals.

Goals

Your goals in life can be a significant factor influencing your prospects for success at university. This will also have an influence on what you choose to study at university. Your reasons for choosing a particular course will affect your:

  • level of interest in your studies
  • willingness to stick it out
  • commitment to your studies

Long-term study goals

Whether your goals are long or short term, it is important that you set yourself realistic goals:

  • be especially clear about what you can and can't do in the time available, whether it be a year, a semester, or a day
  • be realistic in estimating the time needed for each task 
  • be cautious, take the time that you think will be needed and then add half as much again
  • if you over-estimate you can always find something to do to fill in the unused time, but you cannot always find extra time if you under-estimate.

Most of your long-term study goals will centre on:

  • meeting assessment deadlines for written assignments
  • preparing for end of semester exams

Short-term goals

Managing your short-term goals means organising your activities to function as sequential steps on the way to meeting your long-term goals.

Two effective tools to help you do this are:

  • weekly planners
  • to do lists.
Exam anxiety

Overcoming exam anxiety involves more than just developing specific strategies to use during your exam, it also involves knowing what examiners expect. Just as important however, is an understanding of:

  • health issues
  • stress (making it work for you)
  • appropriate relaxation exercises

Health issues

Even more than other forms of assessment, the examination process has the potential to lead you to neglect your health. This is because of the misguided belief held by many students that in order to prepare adequately for an exam it is necessary to adjust their lifestyle in a negative fashion in order to 'cram' in as much information as possible.

This usually involves:

  • skipping meals (or not eating proper meals)
  • interrupting your normal exercise routine
  • altering your sleep patterns.