Work Smarter, Not Harder: Study Strategies To Discover

University learning often requires you to switch up your old study habits and methods of learning. If you’re someone who’s method of study revolves around re-reading notes or watching slideshows from lectures or seminars, you may have discovered you’re not performing too well on your exams, assignments or essays. 

How you study is important, so make sure to read our guide with the most effective study strategies to help you reach your academic potential and work smarter, not harder. 

After all, time is precious as a student so it’s worth finding studying techniques which work for you so you can properly engage with your studies! 

study strategies


1. Set Yourself Specific Goals 

If you want to improve your study techniques and succeed at university, you should firstly set yourself specific goals. 

Try to set some clear goals for what you want to accomplish by the end of each study session, such as how many topics you want to cover or the grade you want to achieve on a certain test. 

You should try to write down your goals as you’ll be more likely to achieve them if you physically jot them down, whether it’s in a note-pad or on a word document, by making them concrete you’ll have something to refer back to. 

We’d suggest ensuring that your study goals are realistic though, as you’re going to set yourself up for failure if you set an over ambitious goal to study for 15 hours per week. 

Instead, try to develop an action plan with specific and realistic goals.

This way you’ll be motivated and focused to stay on track, and you’ll feel like you have accomplished something! 

setting yourself specific goals

2. Develop A Study Schedule 

To help you study efficiently and effectively, you should develop a personalised study schedule as this can help you get into a routine and manage your time well. 

After all, university life can be quite hectic so prioritising your time and keeping on top of your tasks is important. 

By putting time aside to focus on your university work it will ensure that you’re avoiding procrastination and you’re maintaining a healthy study/life balance which can help to reduce stress. 

If you notice your current study schedule isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to make adjustments where necessary. 

We’d suggest being strict with yourself and make sure to stick to your study schedule as best you can, as this way you’ll stay on track and boost your productivity.

Like the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail! 

creating a schedule study strategies

3. Switch Up Your Study Space 

Research suggests that your study environment directly impacts your academic success so, it’s important to switch up your study space and find an environment where you’re comfy and relaxed. 

Whether it’s working in the library, your student accommodation study space, within a cafe or even in your bedroom, try to find a quiet and distraction free environment which works for you and helps you focus on the task at hand. 

If you’re able to, try not to only use your dedicated study space for working as it’s important to have a separate area where you can relax and unwind from university work. 

Such as, if you end up studying in bed you may find when it comes to hitting the haystack, you can only concentrate on thinking about an assignment. 

To create an ideal study space within your student home, we’d suggest ensuring it’s naturally lit and clean and tidy, a tidy space is a tidy mind remember!

students study space

4. Practice Self-testing

If you want to study effectively whilst at university, you should practise self-testing to go through your material regularly and go over the things you’ve learnt, as this will improve your long-term memory. 

Whether you test yourself through quizzes, flash cards, asking yourself questions about certain topics, or even through mock tests, this way you pinpoint the things you’re doing well on and the things you need to improve on. 

You could even get someone else to test you like a flatmate, friend or family member so you can identify areas where you need to focus more time and attention on.

self-testing university students

5. Make Sure To Take Breaks 

When it comes to study strategies, we cannot stress enough how vital it is to make sure you take regular breaks as this can boost your overall productivity.

It’s especially important to take breaks for a short period of time if you’re feeling tired or stressed out, as this can avoid burnout. 

If your study break revolves around you sitting on your phone and scrolling through social media, then try to mix it up a little bit.

Not only is this less effective, but it can put more strain on your eyes and make you tired if you’re constantly staring at screens. 

Taking a break to do exercise of any kind can help you to concentrate, so why not consider going for a walk when you’re taking some time away from uni work?

See what benefits you notice, you may even find you’ve come up with new ideas and are less stressed! 

If you’re someone who struggles with remembering to take frequent breaks when you’re spending time studying, try to set timers to remind yourself. 

taking breaks when studying

6. Ask For Help 

Whilst at university, there are many resources you can make use of to help improve your learning experience, your lecturers are in a way, one of them! 

Often at university students struggle through difficult material as they’re afraid to reach out for help, but remember, it’s better to ask for help early than fall behind later on. 

If you’re struggling with something or not understanding a certain topic, use some initiative and speak to your lecturers, or even people on your course. 

You could also speak to your friends and family to see if they can give you a helping hand with anything, they may be able to offer you some advice for how best to study. 

asking for help university support

7. Reward Yourself 

If you’ve been reaching your goals, hitting your targets and working hard, make sure to reward yourself for making progress, you’ve earned it! 

Whether it’s spending time with your friends, watching a new episode of your favourite TV show, going on a shopping trip, ordering a takeaway, or even having a nap after a completed study session, make sure to reward your progress. 

Allowing yourself some rewards will boost your working efficiency and give you something to look forward to if you start to get bored and lose focus whilst studying.

Plus, this can also help to keep your mental and physical well being in check.

rewarding yourself study strategies

8. Use Feedback To Your Advantage 

Whilst at university, feedback is your main form of guidance and support from your lecturers and tutors. 

You will get feedback in formal and informal ways, and it can be one of the most important study strategies. 

No matter if your feedback is positive or negative, make sure to read and consider all of it as this will improve your academic performance and help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.  

If you don’t understand any feedback you’ve been given or have any queries, make sure to discuss this with your lecturer.

So, you can create an action plan and ensure you’re taking the information on board for your next assignment. 

university feedback study strategies

9. Study With Others

By studying with others whether it’s in the library, the study spaces on campus or in your student flat, you can help to gain new perspectives and learn from others. 

There are tons of benefits of studying with other people, like helping you to gain new skills and habits, boosting motivation, greater engagement levels as well as increasing your confidence. 

Attending a study group can also help you to discover new and unique strategies which work for other students which you could make use of.

Or, you could share your techniques with others, it’s all about being a team player! 

So, find a study buddy or even a group of study buddies to work alongside with, you can have group discussions, work on assignments together or quiz one another! 

study groups study strategies

10. Take Care Of Your Physical & Mental Health 

Commitment to your studies is all well and good whilst at uni, but you may start to feel overwhelmed trying to juggle your personal and academic life. 

So, remember to be kind to yourself and take care of your physical and mental health as not only do they affect our everyday lives, but also our ability to learn and focus on tasks. 

A few ways you can prioritise your health and wellbeing during your studies is by eating well-balanced meals, staying hydrated, keeping active, as well as getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night to ensure you’re well rested and ready for the day ahead. 

University life can be pretty hectic but getting enough sleep per night is critical if you want to perform well academically. 

Like it or not, stress is a part of university life, so try to practise good coping skills to help yourself de-stress whether it’s practising breathing exercises, listening to music, doing yoga, or even speaking to your friends or family members. 

Giving yourself time to relax and unwind from your university work will improve your academic and personal outcomes! 

Take Care Of Your Physical & Mental Health 

We hope this guide of study strategies for university students has been useful but remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to studying, some of these things may work for one student and not for another. 

We all have a preferred way of learning, so go out there and discover what works for you from this post and what doesn’t! 

What is your study method? Let us know if you have any successful study strategies which work for you @_homesforstudents.

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