How I Study

by Emily Watts
(Manchester)

Since I have been in my third year at university I feel my study practice has altered quite substantially compared to past habits.

For a start the work load has doubled. As a result my time management has become really important.

Once I am given a guideline of assignment deadlines, I am able to set out when I should begin the essays.

Clarifying this at the beginning and keeping record of if it enables me to have a decent amount of time to concentrate on each essay, especially as many of my assignments are due in within a week or so of one another.

Although most lecturers state we should do at least 4 hours reading per week for each subject (taking into account I have 6 modules), I find this very time consuming and cannot always get it all done. However, to counteract this I spend longer than is necessary on assignment to increase my understanding.

I weigh great importance in attending lessons, as my style of learning greatly depends on me fully understanding the topic.

To enable me to do this I print off the lecture notes from our personal web portals before the lecture takes place, then I write additional notes alongside in a form that I will understand when refering back to them at a later date.

These notes become the backbone of my assignments as they are structured in a way that the lecturer obviously thinks is suitable; they also highlight the key areas of the topic.

Furthermore, I focus on researching the key areas in detail, using various resources to get a broad reflection of the subject.

It is often hard to concentrate with all the distractions of student life around, so I find working in our university computer rooms much more effective than working at home.

Doing a little bit each day keeps on top of things and means it's not all left to the last minute.

* * *

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Emily.

I think your point about having clarity is an important one. Knowing exactly what it is we have to do makes it easier to know when we're wasting time.

You mention that you're expected to read for four hours each week on each subject. Yes, that's a big ask; but there are a couple of ways you could probably make it more do-able:

Read during 'dead time'. Whilst waiting or travelling etc.
Read faster. There are some simple techniques that can improve speed and retention. This article may help.

You also mention that you place great importance on attending lessons. This is a fundamental requirement for anything. As Woody Allen said, ?80 per cent of success is showing up?.

Printing off the lecture notes beforehand is a great habit.

You're right - there are so many distractions around, it's hard to know how to stay focused.

Best wishes for the rest of your course and beyond!

- Tim


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