Studying at university can present challenges, especially at the beginning of your studies when you're still getting a sense of what it's all about.
One of the most important things you can do for academic success is to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing. Creating a healthy base of nutrition, sleep, and exercise helps to foster the perfect conditions for academic success. See the Eating well, Sleeping well, and Getting Active sections for more information.
Topics of interest
Click each heading to expand and read more.
Managing your time and commitments effectively is a great first-step toward academic success. It's a good idea to make a list of your commitments and the time you have available to fulfill them. If you are new to university, talk to your lecturers, teaching assistants, tutors, and later-year students to get their perspective on how much time you need to dedicate to different assessments and aspects of your courses.
Timetabling is a good technique to ensure that you meet your deadlines, and allows you to effectively prioritise important tasks. When creating a timetable, keep it realistic and allow a degree of flexibility, as you might like to mix up your routine from time to time. Ensure that you leave enough free time to do whatever you want, whether that be for self-care, socialising, or anything else that might come up that requires your attention.
Check out Academic Skills for more useful information and resources on time management.
Learning and memorising
The ability to efficiently learn, memorise, and recall information is a valuable skill that will contribute to your academic success. We know enough about human memory processes that there are techniques and strategies you can use to make this process easier and more effective.
- Research has shown that learning, memorising, and recalling information is made easier when you consistently get a good night's sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly. Sleeping also promotes memory consolidation; it is more efficient to space out your study and prioritise getting a good night's sleep than it is to forgo sleep. Read more about sleep and memory on the Sleep Health Foundation's useful Memory, Thinking and Sleep page.
- Try to engage with your course content consistently and repeatedly, rather than only once or twice in big concentrations. This is called the spaced repetition technique - in order to effectively consolidate information into long-term memory, you should revisit content periodically. Have a read of The Guardian's useful article on the technique.
- Teach the content you've learned to others. Teaching material to others helps consolidate and clarify the concepts for yourself. This technique can be particularly useful with study groups. Alternatively, you can use this technique individually, by posing yourself questions about the content which you are learning (and then answering them, of course).
- Check out the American Psychological Association's Six research-tested ways to study better for more research-based study techniques.
Procrastination is that familiar act of delaying an important task or deadline in favour of doing something else. Sometimes, even mundane tasks like cleaning your room can be more appealing than beginning that assessment or studying for that exam. If you experience procrastination, try to break the task down into smaller chunks and begin by tackling just one of those chunks. It could be as simple as creating a document and writing a title, or setting up your desk for study; whatever you choose to begin with, completing a small element of the bigger task can help you to overcome the psychological barrier of procrastination.
Check out these great procrastination stoppers.
Motivation - when you're struggling
- We all feel unmotivated at times, for a number of reasons. If you've been working hard consistently, you might need a break or reset. Give yourself some time off, whether that's an afternoon or a few days. Having rest time is important for maintaining effort over time, and can help prevent burnout.
- At other times, you might be having difficulty getting started. A large assessment, for example, might seem insurmountable - particularly if it's not the only thing that requires your attention. In this case, break the task down into smaller tasks. Completing a small step towards a larger goal can be an effective, low-effort way to gain a sense of control and get the ball rolling.
- Have a change in scenery! The space around you affects how you think and feel. For example, substituting your bedroom for a library might make it easier for you to get into a productive, motivated mindset. At the library, you'll likely be surrounded by others who are doing what you need to be doing. Check out the study space ideas below.
- While it is normal to feel irritable, frustrated, or gloomy from time to time, this should not cause long-term problems. If you start to notice that you are feeling very low, unmotivated, and lacking interest in the things you usually enjoy for longer periods of time, you could be depressed, and should seek help. There are options for support available to you as an ANU student, including General Practitioner services at the ANU Medical Centre and psychological services at ANU Counselling. See a full list of services and resources available to you here.
Stress is a normal response to certain demands, and it can serve as a useful motivator when you need a bit of a kick to get going. However, when stress is prolonged, it can become chronic and negatively impacts on your wellbeing. If you feel like stress is negatively impacting you, you might benefit from talking to a professional, such as a General Practitioner, counsellor, or psychologist. Check out this page for a list of ANU support options and online resources.
Check outs Healthline's helpful article on the difference between normal and chronic stress, and how stress can be positive. If stress is negatively affecting you, check out these useful resources from WebMD and HealthDirect.
Study spaces on and off campus
Where should you study? You're spoilt for choice at the ANU and in Canberra, and it's about finding spots that work for you. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Marie Reay Teaching Centre - including student commons areas, and easily accessible, Marie Reay is one of the most frequented study spots on campus. Popular with students who want squeeze in some reading or essay writing between classes, Marie Reay is smack-bang in the middle of campus. From Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm, the building is free access. On the weekends, you'll need your student card to get in.
- Chifley basement - a brand new, open, and spacious area, offering great facilities and bulk study spots. Mix of desks, pods, rooms, and benches.
- aMBUSH Gallery Foyer - the foyer space on level 2 of the Cultural Centre has several study spaces for students to utilise. The Cultural Centre is accessible Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
- Di Riddell - the foyer space on level 1, Di Riddell Building has some study nooks for students to use. The Student space can be accessed 9am to 5pm weekdays.
Each of ANU libraries have their own characteristics, and computing and printing services are available at each. Book study rooms and spaces online, through the ANU Library website.
- Chifley Library - open 24/7. Right in the middle of campus, with a mix of tables, pods, individual desks, and group rooms.
- Hancock Library - open 24/7. Similarly proximal, with a mix of tables, rooms, and desks.
- Menzies Library* - slightly out of the way, and arguably not as popular, offering greater peace and quiet. Check out the basement, too, for a niche, tucked-away study spot.
- The Law Library* - individual and mixed-use study space, handy for law students.
- Art & Music Library* - located at the ANU School of Art, this smaller library is a great study spot slightly away from it all. It's also close by to La Baguette, a tucked-away café popular with staff and students.
*Open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, Wednesday extended hours 5pm to 8pm.
What about off campus? The National Library of Australia is a popular spot for students. It's an impressive and atmospheric building that's sure to set the tone for a productive study session. While you have to cross Lake Burley Griffin to get there, this has the added benefit of a pleasant walk or ride! Check out these science students' favourite study places for some new ideas.
Check out Academic Skills' fantastic resources and tips on how to effectively read, note-take, conduct research, and manage your time (among many other things). Also see ANU Counselling's helpful resources and information relating to study.
- Contact your individual course staff. Lecturers, tutors, and teaching assistants are often the best first port of call if you'd like assistance with your course content or assessment. They may also have helpful advice about where to go next. Check your course Wattle pages for contact information, or find your college's contact information here.
- Academic Skills assists students who are looking to improve their fundamental academic skills. You can book appointments with peer writers, writing coaches, and learning advisors, and check out a range of online information and resources for essay and report writing, exams, presentations, and academic integrity, to name just a few topics.
- There are a range of people you can speak to if you feel that stress or mental health is impacting your ability to study effectively. ANU Counselling offers free and confidential counselling services to ANU students. If you live on-campus, reach out to your Senior Resident or Residential Advisor, or residential staff for assistance. See here for a list of the support available to you at ANU.
- ANU Thrive offers free consultations with trained peer mentors, who are available to have a chat and provide advice, information about support services, and useful resources.