When studying at university you are responsible for your own learning and managing your time effectively to help you perform at the best of your ability and meet course deadlines whilst maintaining your personal health and wellbeing.
Creating a good study space, planning and managing workloads and setting goals can be the key to staying in good mental and physical health whilst studying at university.
Choosing A Good Study Space
Students study in various places, ranging from the University library to the comfort of their own room, however, it is important that when deciding on a study space, you take into account the human factors of the equipment used and surrounding environment.
Selecting a spot to study on campus
The university offers a variety of study spots across the campuses and you need to decide where best suits you. You may prefer to work in a quiet area or like to have a bit of noise in the background. Just ensure that there are minimal distractions and that the temperature and lighting are good for studying.
Creating your own study space
It is likely that you will study in your own private area such as your bedroom. When creating a study space there are a number of things to consider:
- If possible ensure you have an appropriate table and chair to work on. Working whilst sat on your bed will only make you tired and is likely to cause back pains after long periods of work, due to a lack of back support. It is also important to make sure that your chair is comfortable and adjustable to enable you find the most ergonomic position to work in.
- Try to face your computer away from the window so that you do not experience glare on the screen which could cause eye strain
- Avoid placing your phone on the desk next to the computer – This will only cause distractions and an excuse to procrastinate
Planning And Managing Your Time
When at university it is essential to plan your time effectively to avoid unneeded stress. It is not just academic work such as assignments, lectures and research that you must plan for, you may also choose to participate in paid work, sports clubs and socialising, all of which should be managed effectively to ensure course deadlines are met and work is completed in plenty of time. Here are a few tips for doing this:
- Divide assignments and revision into manageable chunks – setting out to achieve multiple small task at a time is much less daunting than starting an assignment looking at the whole content
- Plan a study timetable ensuring it is realistic and takes into account other commitments
- Take regular breaks – brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve your ability to focus on that task for long periods of time. Working for 30mins – 1 hour and then taking a 5-10 min break can improve your attention
- Do not leave things to the last minute – this will only cause greater stress which in turn causes difficulty concentrating, more procrastinating and lowers the immune system making you more susceptible to colds and illnesses
For more information and help with your study skills please visit the Study skills page
Setting goals is an essential way to keep yourself motivated and help manage time as mentioned above. The goals should be personal, realistic and achievable and there should be time frames included in them. There are a number of goal types that you may use at university:
Ultimate long term Goal – Degree classification e.g. First Class
Short Term Goal – Assignment grade e.g. B or 60% (Deadline date would be the time scale)
Process Goals – Assignment sections completed – e.g. Introduction completed by ??/??/2014
Try to make the goals challenging e.g. setting reasonably short timescales for process goals, to keep motivation high and produce a sense of achievement once completed. If you do not have goals you are unlikely to perform at the best of your ability.
During exam time it is important to use all the previously mentioned study tips above to ensure you perform at your optimum. Stress and anxiety to some degree are inevitable; however, here are a few further tips on how to study well during exam time:
- Take regular breaks from your revision - go for a walk or run. It releases endorphins and will make you feel better
- Eat breakfast - it will help you perform better during the day
- Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water
- Caffeine can make you more alert, but it can also stop you sleeping
- Get a good night’s sleep - it will help your brain think better. Develop a ‘winding down’ routine before going to bed; give your laptop and phone a good night too – turn them off an hour before sleeping
- Stay connected with the world – look up from your studies occasionally; meet with friends
- Talk any worries over with someone before it becomes a crisis. You could confide in friends or go to Firstpoint. Alternatively you could contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For further advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety during exam time contact Student Services.