Things they don't always tell you about learning and studying

Your tutors and course materials provide information about study and learning, but there are other things you also need to take into account to help you get prepared for your studies.

Learning is emotional

If you don’t understand new information, sometimes you’ll feel bad and may think it is your fault. This can be a barrier to your understanding.

When you feel like this stop and take a break. This will help your emotions take a step back, and give you the chance to clear your head.

When you are ready, go back to your learning materials and re-read them. Note down what you think is stopping your understanding. Is it the wording? Is it the whole concept? Check other sources of information to see if you can find more to help your understanding. You could also contact your tutor or ask other students. You might find that other people are stuck.


Studying little and often works best

Research shows that people learn best if they study often, but for short periods, taking regular breaks to stretch their limbs and relax. So remember:

  • Don't study for too long without a break; you need regular breaks to help you remember information.
  • Plan to study in 30 - 45 minute sessions.
  • After each study session, spend five minutes recapping or reviewing what you have learnt. You could write a list of key points or draw a mindmap to do this.

Build it up rather than take it in

Learners build up their understanding gradually rather than take in new knowledge. Understanding comes when you:

  • Link new knowledge to prior knowledge. If it is a whole new topic take your time and slowly build up your knowledge.
  • Expand your existing knowledge of a subject.
  • Look for context and examples in your course materials. You can also try and think of your own examples.
  • Use your own words. When you rewriting things in your own words it helps to check and reinforce your learning.
  • Ask questions. Ask yourself questions. Ask tutors. Ask other students.

You may have to process new information three or more times before it clicks. When you are studying the concepts form a web and new information will click into place if you keep at it.

Related information

Study, concentrate and remember