photo of woman holding book

Study Tips That Actually Helped Me

I work full-time and I’m a student and at times it’s a hassle.

My very first semester at UNISA went very well; I passed the subjects I used to fail dismally and even managed to get a distinction for economics (the first ever in my life at university) – all thanks to these great study tips!

I never considered myself to be particularly intelligent but I know I’m not dumb either; it just takes me a little longer to go through and understand work.

Anyways I used to get depressed after studying and getting unpleasant results back and the only advice I got from my mom was “read”, which frustrated me even more because that’s what I had been doing all along and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted or at least passing my modules.

I don’t know why I had never thought about using this tool for my studies because I’d been using it all along to catch up on the latest music and other unimportant things. The other day my dad said to me “Have you ever thought of using YouTube to help you study?” I was baffled at this because after he said it, it seemed so obvious and no, I had never thought to use YouTube to help me and let me tell you it has changed my life! That was just one of the new methods I tried.

I will be sharing the other methods that changed the study game for me in this post.

photo of woman holding book
Photo by on

People have been holding study tip workshops and talking about effective study methods. I’ve attended 1 workshop but that was way back in like 2011 and read countless articles.

Of all the study tips I’ve come across, these are the ones that worked for me.

Study Tips That Actually Helped Me

  • Avoid studying at the last minute and study 30 a day, every day from day 1 of your course
  • Watch lectures and lessons on the subject on YouTube
  • Make notes that are bright and colourful in your own words that are easy to understand
  • Use drawings and diagrams
  • Use mnemonic devices ( for example My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nice Pizza for the order of the planets i.e. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)
  • Make little flashcards you can carry around and read while you’re in traffic or in long queues
  • Read your material out loud so you can hear what you’re trying to study; the more senses you use the better
  • Make voice notes that you can listen to while getting ready for work or school
  • Join online study groups such as the ones available for free on TogetherWePass
  • REPETITION!!! The more you go through the work, the better it sticks
  • Use a red pen/marker to highlight important keywords or definitions
  • Exercise, this one isn’t actually a study tip per se but it is important to make time to exercise especially during exam season, it helps to keep the stress under control and there is research that states that exercising helps your brain release proteins that aid in memory improvement and also increases the brains cognitive performance
  • Study in time blocks with a 10-minute break in between for eg. for 40 minutes at a time. I’ve read 40 minutes is the efficient amount of time you can sit and concentrate; it may differ from person to person
  • Take regular breaks and reward yourself; (for example, refer to point above) during breaks reward yourself by watching your favourite series for 30 min or going out for ice-cream
  • Try studying at different locations if you can. Sometimes I study at home and other times I’d go to the local library. When studying at home I like to switch locations and study in different rooms.

Some great study locations include the library or a book store, coffee shops, your college or local student centre/hub etc.

  • Get some fresh air!
A student frustrated from studying

Make studying fun and exciting so that it doesn’t feel like such a chore then you won’t dread it and you’ll get higher marks. You should also give different study techniques a try and see which ones work for you because one technique might work well for you in one subject but not so much for another.

The most important study tip I can give you is something that has been repeated over and over again but it is vital, DRINK PLENTY OF WATER and GET ENOUGH SLEEP.

Your body needs this in order to allow your brain enough time to process and store new information.

Always ask for help if you get stuck and try not to get overwhelmed. These are just a few helpful tips that I tried that helped me to improve my marks. Feel free to share yours with me.

If you’re a UNISA student, you can check out TogetherWePass and GimmeNotes for study notes to help you with your modules for free.

There are some courses from other Universities covered there as well, I think, but I’m not sure which ones. Just go and have a look.

The notes are super easy to understand and extremely helpful. Using these sites made my workload more manageable for me.

Keep these study tips in mind when preparing for your tests and exams.

All the best for your studies guys!

A true-crime-obsessed, quirky lifestyle blogger from the coastal city of East London, South Africa whose interests include reading, writing and fitness. Find me on Twitter @WeirdnLiberated.
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