Wanted: Study tips!

We want to produce an online resource of study tips which any OU student can download.

HELP! In my role as Vice President Student Support, I am desperately seeking study tips you would like to share with other OU students. The aim is to produce an online resource of study tips which any OU student can download. Ideally I’d like the study tips to be under 75 words (or even shorter). The deadline is Friday 3 September.

I’d love to hear what has helped with any aspect of that thing we all have to do – study. It can be about how you study or prepare for exams, EMAs or assignments. It could include suggestions ranging from avoiding procrastination to recovering from a poor TMA score, or how to get your cat off the laptop without being scratched. Don’t just limit yourself to those ideas – it can be whatever you think would help another student. We’re looking for study tips for any level, not just for new OU students. So, if you think it would help, please share away.

As a default, the names of tips writers will not be included, just in case someone is mentioned who would rather not be. However, if you would like your name or initials added to the tip, please mention that when you post it, along with the name or initials you’d like used. 

The bad news is there’s no financial gain because the final document will be available to anyone, free of charge. I cannot promise to include all tips and I might need to merge or edit some. The positives are that you might make a difference to another student and find some useful tips once this document is available. 

This reminds me of a comment by AMC Princess Ana (a remarkable young girl with a rare condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita). She said she’d rather be kind than rich because kind people do beautiful things. I’m hoping many kind OU students will come together to help create a beautiful thing. 

Thank you so much if you can help by posting your study tip(s) in response to this article.

Alison Kingan
Vice President Student Support

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  1. I found having the dates and summaries of all my TMAs/EMAs for the year on a one page plan (or poster) really helpful for organising my time and keeping things in perspective. Being able to tick them off as I completed them helped keep me on track for my Masters 😊

  2. Hi, one of the best tips I came across was from another student. She used different coloured highlighters to highlight different types of notes, e.g case studies, new words/terms, important info, explanations.
    I also make notes of references as I go along when writing assignments so that I’m not trying to hunt down where I came across information at the last minute

  3. Another tip would be to keep a drawer/area near your study space with light snacks in it and, if you don’t already have one, invest in a drink bottle. Believe it or not, studying cam make you peckish and you don’t Eastnor have to take a break mid-study to go and find yourself something to eat and/or drink

  4. OpenLearn is full of fun, free courses – but it’s got plenty of courses that focus on study skills, too. Not that note taking isn’t fun! You can pick up some new ideas and insights on ways to do things, from reading to researching, planning to paraphrasing, and everyone’s favourite: referencing…

  5. We get MS Word with Office 365, and Word will even read your own work back to you, which is a great way to check if what your writing makes sense. But the best way to check if things sound right and your grammar is in the right places is to read it aloud yourself. Grammar is there to tell you how to read a piece of writing, when to pause, for how long, when to start a new topic or add emphasis. It’s a good way to develop confidence in your own writing too. You don’t have to do it for an audience yet – but you might get to, one day!

  6. Do things your way. Some people like to get weeks ahead, or study between set hours, or always in a specific place or use a specific method. We all think and learn differently. Give new things a try, because you might be surprised, but don’t keep trying to do things in a way that just doesn’t work for you. Explore how YOU learn.

  7. Nothing goes right for everyone, all the time. Life events come out of nowhere. TMAs turn to not be about what you thought, at all. You forget how to construct a basic sentence…
    Talk to Student Support, and your tutor. They’re there to help you, and will find a way to do so, because there will be one. Don’t give up if things feel like they’re going wrong. There’s a whole team at the OU who want you to succeed just as much as you do.

  8. Try not to leave things until the very last day you can submit them, and then end up doing a load all at once so you’ll probably forget something good.
    Like me. Now. 🙄
    Do feel free to use anything I’ve mentioned in my writing for The Hoot too… x

  9. Engage with your notes regularly by revisiting them, adding new thoughts, re-phrasing and generally playing about with them. Doing so will deepen understanding, allow new connections to be made and support long term memory. It’s all too easy to think that you need to be constantly engaging with new material in order to make progress but in my experience it’s important to keep reiterating as well.

  10. In TMAs, chase every last mark going (I’m thinking of maths and science subjects), even if that means reading a course unit three times to find the one sentence hint that’ll give you one extra mark. Never settle just for the 30% that’s the minimum required. Also, aim to get TMAs submitted at least two weeks before the due dates. With revision, work through all available past papers, taking as much time as is necessary. You’ll soon get used to the sorts of questions asked and naturally speed up as they become familiar and therefore easier. In exams, never spend more time on a question than the marks available warrant. So if, for example, you have a ten mark question to do, don’t spend more than 18 minutes on it. Be strict about this. Wasting time on a question you can’t do takes time away from the questions you can do.