Study skills: hints and tips

At university you are going to be challenged to develop your skills as an independent thinker and learner. If this sounds daunting, don't worry - there will be lots of support available to help you get the marks you want and build up your confidence. Find out what's available in your school/department and take a look at the Students Skills pages, where you can find and book onto training courses that suit you.

No matter what your subject, maintaining a critical and analytical approach to all the information coming your way is the key to your academic work. Simply restating other people's arguments without saying something about them yourself will not gain you marks. Your ability to bring together information and argument and convincingly provide your own interpretation of them will bring you success.

Here are ten tried-and-tested tips to help you get started with your studies:

  1. Establish a work routine - work in the same place at the same time each day, and make sure you have everything you need before you start
  2. Work to your strengths - schedule challenging tasks for when you are most alert, and routine ones for when you may be feeling tired
  3. Don't waste time reading irrelevant material - skim and scan to help you decide if you need to read something critically and in-depth
  4. Regularly review your notes and edit out what you don't need - ask yourself if the information is relevant to your assignment, and how it relates to what you already know
  5. Use Mind Maps and diagrams to generate ideas, and linear notes to focus your ideas for essay or report plans
  6. Make sure that you always add your own comment to every concept or quotation that you write down - maintain that critical and analytical approach at all times!
  7. Always produce a detailed plan before starting to write an assignment - this makes the drafting process much less stressful
  8. You only get marks for what is on the page - be as explicit as you can in outlining your thoughts and how you arrived at your conclusions
  9. Leave enough time after finishing your draft to check it over - careless mistakes will not impress your tutor
  10. Make sure that you have accurately cited all your sources - the University takes plagiarism, whether intentional or accidental, very seriously.

Make the most of the study skills support available to you - there will always be someone who can help if you get a bit stuck - and enjoy your studies here at Bristol!