The study and exam preparation strategies that successful students use


All of us working at university (staff and students) want to feel competent, namely that we are good at what we do. As a student, competence includes understanding how to learn effectively. In this post, access our handout on evidence-based study and exam preparation tips and optimise your study habits to be the best student you can. Reading time ~ 23 minutes (for the full document).


I’ve posted links to this document in many of my previous blog posts, but I’d never dedicated a blog post to it.

My ‘Evidence-based study and exam tips‘ document is an ever-growing collection of study and exam preparation strategies drawn from my readings of sites like Learning Scientists and Retrieval Practice, as well as the wisdom of the counsellors who have been working with students on these issues for many years.

My goal is to extract from the literature those study and exam preparation strategies that have actually been shown to improve academic performance and present them to you. You can use this document as the basis of making changes to how you study and prepare for exams. These are learning strategies that will benefit you across your lifetime, not just here at University.

I’m constantly revising and improving this document over time as I learn more and I get feedback from students or staff on how it could be improved. So please feel free to send me comments or suggestions. This includes any study or productivity hacks that you’ve tried that you have found helpful.

The current document addresses things like:

  1. preparing yourself for success, that is, what conditions do you need to get in place in order to be a good student
  2. how to make the most out of lectures and tutorials
  3. how to get all that information into your head
  4. how to get all that information out of your head
  5. strategies that don’t work that we all still use anyway
  6. embracing the social side of study
  7. how to find the fun in study
  8. common writing traps and how to deal with them
  9. finding balance between studies and the rest of your life
  10. what to do when things don’t go so well
  11. further reading

I hope you find something useful in it for you. Click the image below to access. If you find this content helpful, our Exam Preparation Series might interest you as well.

Take Care

Dr G

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Academic skills Psychological Tools

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