Make essays easy: 17 basic study tips for university

Now you've been thrown in at the deep end, it's time to find out how to swim...

Getting back into the rhythm of studying may seem a little daunting when you’ve had a whole summer off. But when you’re equipped with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be that hard. has put together a list of simple study tips that can make all the difference to your uni year.

Take good lecture notes

It may sound a bit obvious but if you take down good notes it will save you a lot of time come revision time. Make sure you start a new page for every lecture, keep any hand-outs in a folder and don’t bother taking down entire sentences – key words and concepts are all you need. When you get home, expand on the notes you’ve taken, this way you’ll revisit the lecture for a second time.

Gather all your notes in one space

A lot of timewasting occurs when you’re busy sourcing the material you need to study. Keep everything organised together in one space, so when you do quickly need to see that sheet from last term again, you don’t waste hours trying to find it.

Make it visual

Many students are visual learners which means just reading something over and over again isn’t going to cut it. Visual learners need sights, images and visual concepts to make things stick. Organising your material into charts, maps and diagrams.

Vary the way you study

Not everyone is a visual learner, there are plenty of other study methods out there that may be more suitable to you. 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.

Get somebody to test you

Asking someone to test you is a productive break from the dreary monotonous studying routine. This will also allow you to see where you’re strengths lie and what sections you need to re-visit. Also, knowing that in an hour your housemate is coming down to test you may spur you on when you’re studying.

Group study

Forming a study group will make you feel less alone when you’re studying. Make sure everyone in the group is on the same page; braggers, slackers, and super-stressed people won’t make you feel any better.

Find old exam papers

Using a past paper, undertake a mock exam under exam conditions. This will help you practice writing under time constraints. Past papers will help you get an idea of the topics and questions that are likely to come up and reduce any nasty surprises on exam day.

Don’t study in bed

Your bed is for sleeping and watching repeats of Come Dine With Me – your brain won’t be switched to knowledge in-take gear if you study under your duvet.

Take breaks

Break up your revision schedule with short breaks. A good study break consists of an activity that allows you to take your studying. Don’t go on Facebook or watch the Hollyoaks Omnibus, or any other activity that will suck you in a procrastination warp though – keep it short.

Reward yourself

It can’t be all about study, study, study. If you have achieved a study goal, or mastered a particular tricky bit of material – do reward yourself with something you like doing.  Quick game of Fifa, a new coat of nail polish or a chat with a mate.

Change up what you’re studying

Don’t stick to one topic; instead study a bunch of different material in one sitting. This technique will make sure your brain doesn’t go into auto-pilot.

Learn the general concepts first

Don’t worry about learning the details until you have gotten the hang of the main ideas. If you don’t actually understand what you’re studying, it doesn’t stick.

Explain it to a five-year-old

Ask a friend to pretend they’re five years old (bear with us here...) and try to explain what you are studying to them. This means you are going to have to simplify what you are learning and break it down, which will ultimately help you out too.

Avoid cramming, but revisit your notes before an exam

We all know cramming is a no-go. You stress yourself out and the material quickly exits your brain. However, calmly revisiting key notes and flash cards will allow you to feel prepared. Everything will be fresh in your mind when you take the exam.

Feed your brain with water, sleep and healthy foods

Don’t let a diet of energy drinks, chocolate bars and sugary tea ruin all that hard work you’ve done. You want your brain to be in optimal condition for all that information to sink in. Stay hydrated and don’t let your body crash. Keep your blood sugar up with healthy snacks like nuts, raisins, bananas and slow releasing energy foods like oats and apples.

Find your perfect ‘study time’

Some people are ready to go from the movement they wake up, whilst others remember the most at around 3am in a silent library. Experiment with different times so you can figure out what suits you.

Lastly, stay positive

Be confident and don’t let your nerves get the better of you. If you feel stressed, make sure you relax, take some deep breaths or do some exercise.