Thursday, March 29, 2018

Study Skills: Your Life Line for University

By Vallari, Academic Assistant (Work Study student)

Every student entering university quickly realizes how vital it is to have strong study skills. Looking back at my own experiences as a first-year student, I can say without a doubt, that obtaining study skills does not happen overnight. Here are some general pointers to help you move in the right direction. In my blog, I will talk about basic distractions, note taking, your health, and overall expectations.

Distractions - I'm just going to list out the basic ones to help you combat them.


Most students carry their phone on them for the majority of the day. When you're away from your phone, it feels like a part of you is missing. That may be the millennial in me, but I think you get my point. Starting assignments can be difficult when multiple social media platforms are flooding your phone with Snapchat notifications, Instagram likes, Facebook friend requests, group chat messages, and much more to easily grab your attention. So now the question is, how much self-control do you have? If you don't know, here's a quick test: Start your school work and try to go 30 minutes without looking at your phone. 

If you made it, good for you! If you cracked before the half an hour mark, don't be worried, here are some tips. Before you begin, simply turn off your phone wifi and put it face down or leave your phone in another room.You can even turn off your notifications for specific apps through your settings so you only see messages when you click on the app. Eventually, you condition the self-control to work effectively. 

Below are two links for a step by step process on how to change your notifications



Your Friends:

Good friends are gems in life, they are fun to hang out with, always there for you, and know you better than anyone else. That being said, there's a time and place for everyone. How you study versus how your friends' study may be very different. Sometimes studying in a group of friends can be counterproductive where you're socializing more than actually working. However, studying in a group can also be very beneficial when everyone is on track and contributes. Working in a group setting is effective when you divide up the work evenly and use the unique strengths of everyone. There is no magic number of how many people you should study with, it depends on how much you are able to manage.

Here is a link for tips on effective group studying:

Your Environment:

Your surrounding environment is an important factor, start off by asking yourself a few questions:
  • Do you study better at home or school?
  • Where at school do you like to study? The Library, SW Cubicles, The Meeting place, silent study rooms?
  • Do you need pin drop silence, some noise, or busy environments in order to concentrate?
Finding the right study environment will be very beneficial. Personally, it's very rare that I study at home because I'm too comfortable, whereas on Campus I feel more motivated when I'm surrounded by other students working. So, having a few set study spots on campus saves me time to be efficient with my school work.

For more tips on how to find your ideal study environment click here:

Paper versus Laptop:

I remember going to my lecture in first year and seeing a majority of students pull out their laptops, so naturally, I did the same thing. I attempted to take notes but this didn't go so well. I got distracted too easily having internet access and to top it off I'm a slow typer. I quickly learned that I take in information more efficiently when I write out my notes and it forces me to review them later when I rewrite my notes. I also noticed that I can't sit too far back in a classroom because I get distracted by other laptop screens. Typing your notes out does have its benefits as you can easily print it out, and access it from anywhere. That being said, there is a study called, "The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard" by Mueller and Oppenheimer which found that students who wrote out notes scored higher on conceptual questions. Take that with a grain of salt, at the end of the day, do what works best for you.

Your Health:

Saying exam time is stressful in an understatement. It's a lot of late nights studying, missing meals or eating unhealthy... I know it's easier said than done, but take care of yourself! Remember to take small breaks between long study sessions.

Be Realistic:

Knowing your capacity for how much work you can get done in one day is important. I'm guilty of looking at my list of readings and telling myself "I can probably get this all done today" but in reality, I managed to get two things done - this is completely fine, but it can be unproductive when managing your time especially during mid-terms.

If you have trouble managing your time, check out this tip sheet to help you organize your time more effectively.

Please feel free to book a Study Skills Appointment with an Academic & Learning Strategist by contacting our office either by phone at 416-287-7561 or by visiting us in person in AC213.

However long it takes, don't give up till you figure it out because University becomes a lot more manageable afterwards. The skills you obtain and sharpen over the next few years will be useful throughout your life. Good luck with your mid-terms, I hope they go well! 



Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard.

     Psychological Science, 25(6), 1159-1168. doi:10.1177/0956797614524581

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