The ultimate guide to studying

Photo credit: Zoe Archambault

Photo credit: Zoe Archambault

Everyone enters university with different study habits and relationships with coursework. Some of us were dedicated enough to develop strong study habits in high school. Some of us, myself included, came to Brock worried we wouldn’t be able to keep up. Regardless of where you find yourself on this spectrum, it is possible to improve your study habits this year — and for years to come.

One of the hardest parts of developing study habits that work for you is realizing what you need. It’s easy to see shows like Community and think the only way to study is in a big group in the library, or other representations in the media of late nights with notebook paper scattered across your bed. Some people may find that these work, but there is a chance that a study group isn’t the best use of your time.

Do you prefer to study alone or with others? Do you like quiet or background noise? Does repetition help, or do you need to change up the details to stay focused? Don’t forget the eternal debate—do you want to stay up studying or get some rest and hit the books in the morning?

There are five main types of learners: visual, those who learn best by applying imagery and space; aural, that favour sound, like listening to music; verbal, that use words to study, be they written or otherwise; kinaesthetic, that need movement to learn; and logical, that apply reasoning to understand material. While many of us have a clear preference, it is possible and encouraged to change things up when the material calls for it. As a verbal learner, I may use a mind map when I need to include relationships between information.

Every type of learner needs good time management skills. It doesn’t matter if your study routine is excellent if you don’t do it when you need to. Make a plan in advance of your deadline. Break down big tasks into smaller goals to help stay on track. Remember, it may not always be fun to keep up your study routine, but it is an act of kindness for your future self, who has less to do right before the due date thanks to your proactivity.

All tips ultimately come down to one: work smarter, not harder. Engineer Allen F. Morgenstern coined the phrase in the 1930s. Essentially, it means to work carefully, applying your resources and time intelligently, so as to get better productivity without putting in more effort. For example, instead of staying up late studying when you know you’re tired, working smarter might look like taking a nap then getting back to work.

Brock has several resources to help you form study habits that work for you, including tutoring, workshops in the library and the Student Success Centre, which includes A-Z Learning Services, Aboriginal Student Services and Academic Advising. It may be difficult to form a good study routine, but you don’t have to do it alone.

For more information about resources available to students, visit


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