How to Study at University

Practical tips and general thoughts on how to study at a Western university

Practice doesn’t make perfect

Point: Prepare for tests by practising writing answers Exams test two things. They test what you know; and they test what you can do with what you know. Most students – and maybe you – prepare for only one of these two aspects of tests. They – and maybe you – work very hard to […]

Don’t answer that question!

Point: Don’t waste time writing facts if you are not asked for them This is the post you’ve been waiting for. This is the one that will put you out of your study misery. The one that will get you your degree. It’s on how to answer questions. To get your degree you will have […]

Let me throw you a bone – Part 2

Point: You can prepare for your essay before the exam In Part 1 we looked at how to quickly structure an exam essay. This approach might seem a little complicated but with practice you will see that it actually isn’t. (Trust me. If you try to write down the rules of even a simple game – […]

Let me throw you a bone – Part 1

Point: You can prepare for your essay before the exam The problem with exams is that you don’t know what will be in them. The good thing about exams is that you don’t know what will be in them. Really. It’s a good thing, too. If you did know what would be in exams – […]

Whatever love means

Point: You can often define terms in a question to suit the information you have After Prince Charles and Lady Diana  announced their engagement, an interviewer asked them if they were in love. “Oh yes,” said Diana. “Whatever love means,” said Charles. Now, you might think that Charles was being quite cold when he said that […]

Draw the undrawable

Point: Draw ideas to help you understand them better Which makes a deeper impression on you; a poem about love, or a picture about love? For me, I think I’d rather read a poem than look at a picture. You might be different. I am a word person. I’m not very visual. I get lost easily. I have no […]

Do the dirty work

Point: Use notes to prepare for exams Outside my office window a new building is being built. Right now they are bedding in the foundations. It’s taken a several months of continuous work just to get to this stage. When I look at building foundations and think about using them to advise students, my first thought […]

Maybe your teacher just misses his girlfriend

Point: Identify the problem behind the exam or essay question Teachers don’t mean to be tricky. Really. Of course, they can seem to be trying very hard to be tricky sometimes. Like when they write exam and essay questions. Instead of saying something clear and simple like Write what you know about fossil fuels, or […]

Your teacher bleeds

Point: Predict the exam questions. Here’s a thought. Your teacher is human. If you ask your teacher if he is human, like you, he might look you in the eyes, hold a hand to his heart, pause dramatically, and say … “If you prick me, do I not bleed? If you tickle me, do I not laugh? […]

Jumping inside

Point: Memorise numbers for the exam Do you know that moment in an exam when you read a question and your brain jumps so high it hits the top of your head? I hope you do, because it’s the moment when you see a question you know the answer to. It’s a good feeling. Jumping inside […]

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