Study skills

University studies require that you take responsibility for your own studies. Some self-discipline is a prerequisite for success. If you are studying at university for the first time, you will probably experience some changes compared with previous studies, such as high school. Keep in mind that different people learn in different ways. The tips and advice offered below are general and it may not all be applicable in your specific case.

If you need more personal help with your studies, you are welcome to contact the Student and Career Counsellors by email studievagledare@his.se.

It takes time

It is important that you anticipate that your studies will take time, even outside of lectures and other scheduled activities. How many scheduled lectures and seminars you will have in your education is difficult to say, as it mainly depends on what topic you are studying. The general idea, however, is that full-time study should constitute approximately 40 hours of work a week, but you can of course allocate these hours as you see fit over the course period.

To make an individual study plan

To achieve the best results in your studies, you need to take the time to reflect on your studies and draw up an individual study plan. If you are unsure, it may also be a good idea to review your plan with a Student and Career Counsellor to see if it seems reasonable. A study plan can be based on your scheduled lectures, course PM, or other information provided by your teacher, which states what to read and when different tasks are to be handed in. One suggestion is to write or draw up a weekly overview, note what you are doing and what deadlines you have during your course. It might also be wise to make a long-term plan for the entire semester, so that the weekly plan includes deadlines for the course and the long-term plan includes everything you need to have done by the time the course is completed.

Use a calendar, digital or paper, to plan your time. You can also find weekly planning for the Office package, if you search among the templates available on Microsoft's website, through Word, Excel, etc.

Important

  • Be self-critical when planning
  • Check that you get an even and reasonable study load over the entire year
  • Make room for your social life
  • Find the best place for you to study - be it at home, at the library or another place that you have discovered to be the best for you

Study Tips

Study tips tend to be about learning, silence/sound, lighting, being organized or not, underlining, taking notes, repeating things over and over again and similar issues. How this will work for you is something that you have to discover on your own. 

Curiosity

Most often lack of commitment, lack of planning and lack of study skills are to blame for difficulties with your studies. Engagement is obviously a crucial factor in academic success. The teachers try to naturally stimulate your interest, but it is also assumed that you have a personal interest in the subject in question.

Scheduling

Use your time effectively when you study. In addition to scheduled activities, you might also need to spend a significant amount of unscheduled time with your studies. Try to make a personalized schedule for your courses. This may include an outline of lectures, group work, literature, reading, practising for the exam, seminar preparation and your extra-curricular life. Then you only have to maintain self-discipline by keeping up with your schedule. Gradually, you will realize the advantage of this approach, and that well-developed time management gives you more freedom. Studying full-time should be seen as the same thing as working full time, it requires 40 hours of work a week.

Learning

Learning at a university focuses on lectures and reading the related literature. To use methods to get the most out of all this is advantageous. When it comes to lectures, it is not enough to hear what is being said, you also need to listen actively to the content. This means that you should look for the teacher’s fundamental ideas and designs/structures that she/he provides during the lectures and in the course PM. If there are things that your teacher says which you do not understand, just ask, either during the lecture or, if you want, you can stay after class, or even ask via email.

Preparation

You should be well-prepared for each teaching session. Through this preparation, you should know what will be discussed, and you should also ask the teacher to adress the things you had difficulty understanding. Therefore, try to keep ahead in the course, instead of being forced to catch up afterwards. How do you do it? Through good planning.

Don’t do everything at the last minute

Try to keep up with the pace from the start, otherwise there is a risk that you start to fall behind with assignments, and re-exams might begin piling up. Make an overall plan for the course and try to maintain a steady pace throughout the study period. It's not easy trying to read and understand everyting the last week before the exam.

Repetition

To be able to take in all the information from lectures and seminars, repetition is important. Glance through the literature to check what will be discussed in the lecture in advance, then it will be easier for you to keep up and you can ask about things you do not understand.

Take good notes

The lectures are oftenm the most important part of the course. Well-organised and structured lecture notes can be crucial to your academic performance and a good aid in studying for the exam.

It's important to write down just enough and with a good technique. Note the key words, concepts, terms and names and key sentences. If you try to write down everything the lecturer says, the risk is that you give up after a short while. For some students it works better if you use pencils in several colors in your notes. Try it and see if it works for you.

Focus

Make sure you find a place where you can learn effectively and without being disturbed. If you can not help but turn on the TV at home, it may suit you better to sit in the university library. Set a goal for how far you want to get during the day - but be realistic! Read in short sessions; your memory capacity is best in the beginning and end of a work session. Take short breaks regularly and drink some water, eat something or get some fresh air.

Tip! How to learn a text

  1. Glance through the text.
  2. Go through the text carefully and underline the important things.
  3. Make your own summary of the text.
  4. Go back and see if you missed anything important in your summary.
  5. If you do this properly, it is often enough to read your own summary for the exam.

Final advice

Realize that your life is a whole. Academic studies are not everything. You must find a balance between your academic activities and your "normal" social life. Activities such as family, children, work, parties, sororities/fraternities, military activity, sports and so on play an important role in the personal development the academic studies are designed to contribute to.

If you want help to structure your studies, please feel free to contact one of the student counsellors. At the Study Support Center, you can get tips on study skills too.

Book recommendations etc.

Here are some tips on books, etc. that may be helpful to read when you have questions about you studies:

 

See also

Student and Career Counselling
Student Health Service

Short summary!

  • Study the lecture material before the lecture / lesson
  • Take notes during the lecture. Read and/or re-write notes immediately afterwards
  • Underline, but not too much
  • Make a habit of always studying at the same place at the same time each day. Study at least 1-2 hours per session and do not forget to take small breaks occasionally to recuperate
  • Plan your studies. Structure is a good way to success
  • Make your own questions on the text
  • Discuss the difficult sections with your friends from class
  • Think of the big picture. Do not wander off in the details!