Study strategies

There is a big difference between studying at university level compared to studying at upper secondary school. At university, you are expected to take greater responsibility for your studies and a large part of your free time needs to be set aside to study.

University studies often mean a relative freedom, but this also places demands on you to take a personal responsibility to do your studies or to get help if you need it. Some forms of teaching may be new and student groups are large in many institutions. It is important to adapt to these differences as quickly as possible to keep up.

Studying on your own requires motivation, self-discipline, concentration, and planning. Your study technique is therefore important. Study technique can be the art of underlining the right things in a book, knowing how to "skim read" literature, how to plan your reading. Study technique can also be the art of planning your entire study situation in detail. It can also be good to know your own learning style, ie how exactly you learn best.

How do you learn best?

There is a lot that affects your studies: motivation, prior knowledge, study habits/methods, study/living environment, and, of course, who you are and your experiences. It is important that you start thinking about how you study and what type of environment you need to have to get as good a set-up as possible to succeed with your studies.

Where do you read best? At home, at the department/campus, or at the library? Try and evaluate. When do you read best? Are you an evening or morning person? Take advantage of your most alert and focused time to put towards studying!

Are you a procrastinator?

Do you have to put pressure on yourself to get started with a job, or are you a person who is mostly ready in time before the deadline?

Take two different motivational strategies - do you recognize yourself in one?

  • Do you motivate yourself from something?
    • It feels difficult to deal with the task, perhaps demanding or overwhelming, the principle of pleasure for the moment applies and there is often a distaste of a bad conscience or guilt.
  • Do you motivate yourself to something?
    • You enjoy the feeling of being ready and/or of having performed the task.

Tips:

  • Uncover your procrastination patterns - "I'm just going to…." "I'm probably more alert tomorrow" and more of the like. Recognise next time the procrastination thoughts come and try to work against them!
  • Try the Do It Now! technique. It will not be easier or a more simple task tomorrow than it is today. If you start now, your bad conscience will reduce and you’ll likely realise fears are often worse than reality.
  • Learn to identify the stress symptoms that lead to procrastination. Realize that you can actually endure them and can work to manage them.
  • Create an environment that helps you focus on your studies.
  • Try to find friends you can study with.
  • See your studies as a job. Set boundaries around your studies by planning your working hours, create daily routines.
  • Make goals and break down large tasks into smaller parts, so it feels more achievable.
  • Reward and encourage yourself after completing the goal.
  • What about demands and expectations? We know that both unclear demands and high demands can be overwhelming. Read more about this in our advice on stress and performance anxiety.

Concentration

Concentration is the ability to direct and control attention and is a mental process that can be influenced. You can create concentration. Choose a study place with as few distractions as possible. Clear your mind of distractions by letting them out through writing, talking to someone, making lists, or planning a time to deal with them later.

Use the time you are most alert to work with the most difficult study material. Start with mental preparation and focus on what you need to do. Limit study sessions. It will be easier to both get started and stay focused if you know it’s for a period of time. Take one thing at a time.

Everyone learns in different ways. Find active study methods based on your learning style, for example, taking notes, asking questions about what you are reading, discussing with others, summarising main ideas, and quizzing yourself.

Tips:

  • Take regular breaks to move and counteract tension in the body. Try some relaxation exercises.
  • Pause for processing, so that the information can "sink in".
  • Take a break to eat, so both the body and the brain get new energy.
  • Motivate yourself. Practice a positive inner dialogue. "If you think you can, you can do more than you think"
  • Think about the goal of the course and focus on the task at hand. Focus on today and now, not on yesterday or tomorrow.
  • Try to do something, instead of regretting what you did not do.
  • Think about what you have achieved. Encourage yourself - see what you do!

Other tips and advice

If you want advice or individual support, do not hesitate to contact the Student Health Service counselling.

Watch a video presentation about study related stress.

You can also get help by participating in the Student Health Service's groups and courses.

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