Study strategies for Year 12, university and beyond

Study strategies for Year 12, university and beyond

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Strategies to help you study smarter

Realising your study potential is about studying smart. Through this Study Strategies guide you will learn how to:

  • modify your study habits
  • monitor your progress
  • take control of your own learning

Topic 1: Active learning

Experience shows that people learn much more effectively when using active learning strategies. How do you practice active learning? 

Some tips for active learning
  • Think about what you are learning – how does it relate to what you have learnt before?
  • Learn collaboratively – discuss the material with others
  • Participate in classes – ask questions, join in discussions, take notes
  • Transform information – take notes, summarise, map arguments, discuss, teach someone else
Here are some active learning activities. Which ones could you use in your study? 
  • Summarise a chapter after reading
  • Write your own exam questions
  • Teach what you have learnt to a friend or family member
  • Diagram or draw your ideas or the ideas from a text
  • Make a list of questions before you start reading
  • Discuss your ideas with others
  • Study in a group and write quizzes for each other
The Scan, Skim, Slurp and Summarise (SSSS) method for active reading
  • Scan: read title, table of contents, introduction and conclusion. Look at maps or charts.
  • Skim: read headings, and/or first sentences in each paragraph
  • Slurp: read the whole text, taking notes or drawing a mind map as you read.
  • Summarise: what were the main points? If this were in an exam, what would the questions be?
Strategies for maximising your memory
  • Chunking or grouping information into categories
  • Repeating the intake of information – rereading
  • Using the scan, skim, slurp and summarise technique in reading
  • Using mnemonics
  • Diagram or draw information
  • When listening, take notes and discuss the ideas afterwards
  • Relate what you are learning to what you already know, or to your own life and environment
Reflection: what strategies could I use?

Think of your own study practice. What techniques could you use to actively engage with your study topics – and remember them better?

Topic 2: Making the most of your time

Key ways for making the most of your time
  • Pick your times - schedule bigger / harder tasks for when you are most alert or energised.
  • Schedule regular short study blocks (no more than 50 mins) to work on your task.
  • Give yourself breaks – PLAY. Everyone needs some downtime to recharge.
  • End your day with a To-do list. This saves time and helps you start your day with a focus.
  • Be time-aware: it encourages you to be more efficient.
Some of the reasons that people procrastinate: do any of these apply to you?
  • Perfectionism
  • Afraid of failing / lack of self confidence
  • Not knowing where to start
  • Feeling overwhelmed / panicked
  • Too busy (part time job, training)
  • Not motivated / not interested
  • Find it easier to work under pressure
  • Laziness
Tips for avoiding procrastination
  • The best way to get started is to begin (even if it’s not perfect).
  • Get started as soon as you are given a task.
  • Break the task down into bite-sized activities and smaller achievable tasks. 
  • Schedule the most difficult tasks first.
  • Avoid multi-tasking: switch off social media so you’re not distracted.
  • Remember: someday is not a day of the week!

Topic 3: Relaxation skills

We all know what it’s like to be stressed. Things that we would normally handle may become too much and we might even start to experience symptoms such as headache, sleep disturbance and poor concentration. Whatever the causes of stress there are some simple techniques we can use to manage stress in our lives. Listed below are some of these techniques:

  • Keep healthy sleeping and eating patterns as regularly as possible to build up your physical and mental strength.
  • Incorporate some regular physical activity and or exercise to combat stress and get the endorphins working for you.
  • Give yourself ‘time out’ at least once each day, especially on those days when you are feeling stressed.
  • Be aware of your thinking style. Be conscious of the messages you give yourself daily and the effect they have on your wellbeing.
  • When you relax, you can also learn to create in your mind your own special place of relaxation perhaps a beach with waves gently lapping on the shore, perhaps a peaceful garden or a mountain retreat – wherever it might be that your mind can transport you to so you can relax.
  • Make reasonable time to socialise and to keep up healthy relationships.
  • Don’t forget that simple things can help too, like listening to some relaxing music, taking a warm bath at the end of a long day or reading a good book (non-study-related) for a while.

Topic 4: How to overcome exam stress

Before the exam
  • Make a plan
  • Study when you perform best
  • Set yourself goals and rewards
  • Look after yourself
  • Rest
  • Be prepared
  • On the day arrive early, but not too early
  • Stress is normal
  • Remember you have plenty of time
  • Stay positive

Topic 5: How to assess resources you find

Use the CRAAP1 test to evaluate information that you find on the Internet

Are there dates on the page to indicate when the page was written and last updated?


Does it contain useful information?


Does a statement of ownership appear on the document?


Can you verify the factual information provided?


What is the motivation for publishing the information?

1 The CRAAP test was originally developed by Meriam Library, California State University (2010).

Topic 6: Setting up your habits and spaces for study

Study zone check
  • The only things are those I need for study
  • There's space to set out my books / notes
  • I have the tools I need close by (calculator, pen, pencil etc)
  • There's enough light to read comfortably
  • Nobody interrupts me
Habits that help me study
  • Studying at the same time daily
  • Closing the door
  • Setting out my gear
  • Setting a pomodoro timer
  • Having a drink/food closeby
  • Having a study playlist
  • Doing an easy task first
  • Turning off my phone
  • Having something in my free hand
  • Clicking my pen
  • Going for a walk after
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