Transitioning to university is a significant milestone in a student’s life, filled with novel experiences and challenges. At the core of this transition is learning how to study effectively, given the increasing academic demands of higher education. Cultivating effective study methods early on can not only lead to academic success but can also foster a lifelong love for learning.

Time management emerges as the linchpin of academic success at university. Unlike the structured schedules of high school, university often presents students with large chunks of unallocated time. To navigate this, students should come up with study strategies to proactively plan their weeks in advance. Incorporating deadlines, class schedules and extracurricular commitments into a digital calendar or physical planner can create a visual map of one’s obligations. By clearly visualizing their commitments, students can better allocate time for study sessions, thus avoiding the pitfalls of last-minute cramming. Moreover, when faced with larger assignments, breaking them down into smaller, manageable tasks can mitigate feelings of being overwhelmed.

For current UCW students, Student Affairs offers time management workshops to help set up students for success.

Equally important is the art of note-taking. While the rapid pace of lectures might tempt students to transcribe verbatim, the key lies in distilling information into concise, comprehensible notes. Techniques such as the Cornell Method, where students divide their notes into cues, notes and summaries. This can help in extracting key concepts. Furthermore, regular reviews of these notes, rather than marathon sessions before exams, can reinforce knowledge and aid in long-term retention.

Active engagement during classes is another cornerstone of effective studying. Rather than passively absorbing information, students should challenge themselves by asking questions and partaking in discussions. This active involvement not only deepens understanding but can also highlight areas that need further clarification. It’s also worth noting the detriment of multitasking during lectures. Flitting between social media, chats and lecture slides can impede the ability to grasp intricate concepts.

Beyond individual efforts, universities often brim with resources designed to bolster academic achievement. Forming study groups can be particularly beneficial. Collaborating with peers offers a platform for varied perspectives, turning complex topics into digestible discussions. Furthermore, University Canada West offers workshops or one-on-one tutoring sessions. Taking advantage of these resources can provide tailored guidance and hold students accountable.

The environment in which a student chooses to study can significantly influence their productivity. While some thrive amidst the hum of a busy café, others might need the silence of a library cubicle. Regardless of preference, the elimination of distractions – be it digital notifications or ambient noise – is paramount. Interestingly, periodically changing study locations, such as alternating between a dorm room and a library, can invigorate a student’s focus.

Another vital aspect of successful studying lies in maintaining one’s health. The allure of late-night study sessions fueled by caffeine might seem appealing, but regular sleep is non-negotiable for cognitive functioning. Alongside rest, a balanced diet provides the necessary nourishment for the brain. Physical activity, even if it’s just a brief walk between study sessions, can rejuvenate the mind and combat the stress that often accompanies university life.

The journey through university isn’t solely about producing stellar academic papers or acing exams. It’s also about growth, resilience and learning from one’s missteps. Adopting a curious mindset, seeing challenges as opportunities to learn and seeking help when needed can make the voyage not just successful, but also enjoyable. As students embark on this academic adventure, equipping themselves with effective study strategies can transform potential hurdles into stepping stones toward their aspirations.

How to study for exams

Studying for exams can be a daunting task, but there are many effective strategies that can help you prepare. Here are some studying tips:

Start early: Give yourself enough time to study and create a study schedule a few weeks before your test.

Organize your study space: Make sure you have a quiet, comfortable and well-lit space to study in.

Ask the right questions: Before you start studying, make a list of what topics you need to cover and when you’re going to cover them.

Prioritize: Start with what will definitely be on the test, then what will probably be on the test and finally what might be on the test. For multi-part tests, ask which part is graded the highest and put more focus on that.

Mix it up: Change topics every 30 minutes or so to prevent learning fatigue.

Use active learning methods: Create flashcards, make outlines, record yourself practicing and explain your answers to others.

Study with classmates: Organize study groups with friends to challenge yourself and learn from each other.

Take practice tests: Many professors will provide you with previous exams to test your knowledge.

Take breaks: Take regular breaks to avoid burnout and stay focused.

Stay healthy: Eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep to fuel your mind.

Remember, everyone has different preferences and practices, so experiment with a few of these tips to find out which ones work best for you.

Study resources at UCW

University Canada West offers many resources to support student learning.

The UCW Library can provide research consultations and teach users how to select and use resources such as e-journals, databases and indexes. The library also provides instruction and guidance on proper usage of APA style formatting and the importance of upholding UCW’s commitment to a culture of academic integrity. For more information, the Library Services page will detail the ways students can seek assistance from the library staff.

UCW’s Peer2Peer Program helps with the transition into university life. Peer Leaders, who are current UCW students, can help answer questions or provide resources. All new UCW students are paired with a Peer Leader for their first term. UCW also offers Peer Tutors, who are students or alumni. They can meet with students from select courses to clarify questions, work through examples and help students who are struggling with certain aspects of course content.

UCW’s Learning Success Team is here to help students succeed in their studies and find the right support services, including Peer Tutors and Writing Coaches. To book a session with a Tutor, go to the Peer Tutors page. To book a session with a Writing Coach or a Written Feedback Coach, go to The Writing Lab at UCW. Here you will find instructions about how to book a session and what you need to do to prepare.

Published on October 6, 2023.