Top 10 Study Skills Tips

Hi everyone,

My name’s Jacqui Ridge-Stearn and I’m the Learning Support Tutor at Newman University College.  I’m here to make sure our students feel confident with their academic work, so I offer plenty of study skills tips through weekly workshops, individual support sessions and group sessions – whatever students feel would suit them best.

Here are five tips based on questions students frequently ask:

1) What is the basic layout of an ‘English’ University essay or assignment?

The usual assignment for academic work is based on three parts: 1. An introduction, where you highlight the main points in the essay.  2. A ‘body’ of information, divided into paragraphs, where you explain the argument, backed up with references from other writers.3. A conclusion where you summarise the main points from the body.

Tip: Plan your essays carefully to make sure you include all your ideas into the essay format.

2)  How do I reference my work?

It is important that you use evidence in your writing to back up your ideas.  We use a referencing system called Harvard Referencing and there are many opportunities for you to find out how to use this before you start at Newman.  It is also known as the author, date referencing system.  It’s important that you use good referencing so that you are not ‘plagiarising’ – this is where you are using other people’s ideas without stating whose idea it is.

Tip:  go to one of the library workshops on referencing – they tell you all you need to know. Alternatively, look at the excellent Newman referencing guide:  http://www.newman.ac.uk/library/referencing.htm

3) What kind of language should I use in my essays?

Academic language is very formal.

Tip:  practice some exercises on how to make your language more formal at:

http://www.uefap.com/writing/writfram.htm

Click on ‘exercises’ and ‘features’ to find some useful tasks with answers.

4) How can I make sure my note-taking skills are good?

It’s important that you develop good note-taking skills for university study.

Tip: do not try to listen or read and write at the same time.  In a lecture, listen to your lecturer for a few minutes, then jot down the main points that you remember.  Same with a book – read a page then write down the key points.  In this way you should not collect too many notes to manage.  Don’t try to write everything down – it can’t all be useful.

5) How can I check my grammar is at the right level?

Tip: Brush up on your grammar before you write your first essay.  LearnHigher, a British Government funded support resource  has designed a fantastic quiz called Grammar Beagle: http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/Students/Academic-Writing/Top-3-activities/Grammar-beagle.html

Answer the 40 questions, and click on more information about any you have got wrong.

Next time … another five study skills tips, covering reading, time management, listening and working in groups.