Studying for university courses can be stressful, particularly at the beginning of your degree when you're still getting a sense of what it's all about. There are a number of things you can do improve the effectiveness of your study and make it an enjoyable and rewarding activity. One of the most important things you can do for academic success is to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing. See the Eating well, Sleeping well, and Getting Active sections for more information. Creating a healthy base of nutrition, sleep, and exercise helps foster the perfect conditions for academic success.
Topics of interest
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Managing your time and commitments effectively is a great first-step to academic success. It can be 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 great technique to ensure that you meet your deadlines, and allows you to plan your days or weeks to prioritise the most important tasks. When creating a timetable, keep it realistic and let yourself have 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
Figuring out how to most efficiently learn, memorise, and recall information is a valuable skill that will contribute to your academic success. Fortunately, 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, so 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 here.
- 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 learned content periodically. Read more about the spaced repetition technique here.
- Another technique is teaching the content you've learned to others. This is an excellent study method, as teaching material to others helps to 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 more research-based study techniques and tips here.
Procrastination is that familiar act of delaying an important task or deadline in favour of doing something else. Sometimes, even otherwise boring 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 important task down into smaller chunks and begin by tackling just one of those chunks. It could be as simple as creating the document and writing your 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
It is normal to feel irritable, frustrated, or gloomy from time to time. While moodiness or being moody may be unpleasant for you and those around you, it should not cause long-term troubles. If you start to notice that you are feeling very low, unmotivated, and lacking interest in the things you usually enjoy for long periods of time, it may be possible that you are depressed, and you should seek help. There are options for support available to you as an ANU student, including GP and psychological services at ANU Health Coop and ANU Counselling. See a list of services and resources 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.
Studying - location, location, location!
Where to study? You're spoilt for choice at the ANU and its surrounds, and it's about finding spots that work for you. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Marie Reay Teaching Centre - with many student commons areas, and being easily accessible, Marie-Reay is one of ANU's most frequented studying locations. Popular with students who want squeeze in some reading or essay writing between classes, Marie Reay is smack-bang in the middle of campus.
- Chifley basement - a brand new, open, and spacious area, offering great facilities and bulk study spots. Mix of desks, pods, rooms, and benches.
- Each of ANU's libraries have their own characteristics, and computing and printing services are available at each:
- Chifley Library - right in the middle of campus, with a mix of tables, pods, individual desks, and group rooms.
- Hancock Library - 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.
- 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 aspects of your course content or assessment. They may also have helpful advice about where to go next. 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, as well as check out a range of online information and resources for essay and report writing, exams, presentations, and academic integrity, to name a few.
- Is mental distress impacting upon your ability to study and learn effectively? There are a range of people you can speak to. ANU Counselling offers free and confidential counselling services to ANU students. If you live on-campus, reach out to your Senior Resident, or hall or college staff, for assistance. Family and friends are a great first port of call when you're not feeling well, too. See here for a list of the support available to you at ANU.
- ANU Thrive offers free consultations with trained student peer-educators, who are available to have a chat and provide information about support services and useful resources.