The step up from school to university teaching can be really daunting for many students. I know that in my own first year I really struggled to adapt to university-level independent study. It took a while to get to grips with the best ways to take notes in lectures, revise and learn in order to succeed in my exams and assignments. In this blog post, I’ll share some of my experiences and tips on how I found the best ways for me to study effectively.
Find the study method that works for you
Firstly, I found that at university, everyone studies differently! Some students prefer to take their laptop to lectures, while others might prefer to use a pen and paper to take notes. Some prefer to sit and listen during the lecture, then take notes later from lecture recordings.
I started uni handwriting my lecture notes, as this was the same as what I had done in school. However, I eventually found that using my laptop is better for me. I can insert diagrams, pictures and text directly into my notes from the lecture slides. These are usually available on the University’s Virtual Learning Environment VLE (basically an online learning hub). Using my laptop also allows me to keep my notes well organised into modules and topics for later revision. Deciding what is best for you can be a trial and error process, as everyone learns in different ways.
For me, an important part of adjusting to independent study at university was becoming better organised. I found that missing a few lectures here and there could soon spiral out of control and leave me behind. Planning my week in advance really helps me to keep on top of lectures, and allows me to set time aside to go over notes, study in the library, complete reading or look at lecture slides, whilst also giving myself time to socialise and relax. This has been particularly important during the pandemic when it has been easy to lose track of time and become distracted.
Another way I keep organised is by structuring my study and revision using the learning outcomes provided for each lecture. These cover all the essential content that you are required to understand for assessments. A revision technique that has been really useful for me is to go through all my learning outcomes and add key points from my lecture notes for each one to create a concise revision document that covers all the required content.
Listen to feedback
Finally, if you are trying to improve, take on board any feedback you are given. This can help you to identify your weaknesses and see what you can build on for future assessments. It is also really useful to talk to your lecturers and ask questions when you are struggling. Lecturers will happily answer questions via email or through module discussion boards, as they want to see you do well too!
In summary, during my time at uni, I have found that everyone studies differently. And it can take time to find a method and routine that works best for you!
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