New student? Take our Study Smart course and get a head start

Computer and lamp with Study Smart written on itAre you a new undergraduate or foundation year student? Then make sure you take our Study Smart online course, which has been specifically designed to help you with the transition to Uni. Join over 1000 UoR students who are already online and getting ahead of their studies.

 

Why should I bother?

Study Smart is a free online course which you are expected to take before you arrive. It offers essential insights as to what will be expected of you as a student and you can start your studies with confidence. It can be completed in a few short sessions and has videos, animations and resources covering 3 main areas:

  • Academic integrity
  • Communication at university
  • Independent learning

The course will help you to understand how these concepts apply to you and your studies. It also contains vital information on how you’ll be studying, including advice on engaging in seminars, getting the most out of course material and using our digital tools.

You’ll also be able to connect with other students, through the discussion boards. So, join over 1000 students who have already started the course.

 

How to access the course

If you are a new first year undergraduate student, you should have received an email with a link to the course on 29 August 2023.

 

If you have any queries or issues accessing Study Smart, please email: studyadvice@reading.ac.uk

You will need to enrol in the coming weeks, after which the course will close. Once you have enrolled you will get access to the resources for your entire time with us.

Don’t forget to download your certificate

Some courses and many academic tutors will ask to see your Study Smart certificate in your first term. You will find this in one of the last Steps of the course, so don’t forget to download it – you may need it for your portfolios.

Good luck!

Starting your dissertation? Follow our top 5 study tips

So, you may have just finished your exams but now you have to turn your attention to your dissertation. Where do you begin and how can you ensure you stay on track? Below are our Study Advice and Library tips to help you get started and stay focused.  

Tip #1: Have a plan 

Having a plan not only helps you to stay on track but weekly goals keep you motivated. Work backwards from your hand in date and remember to build in extra time for proof reading and final touches. Our videos on managing your time offer some tips to get you started.  

Tip #2: Start with something small 

To help you get going, start with a task that you can get done easily. This might be something simple, like setting up a word template or printing off a couple of key articles. Being able to complete one task can give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to tackle more challenging ones. 

Tip #3: Think about the information that you need… 

….and how to access it! If you are carrying out a literature review, or analysing documents or literature, make sure that you are familiar with the key online resources in your subject area. You can find out more about what’s available to you, as well as contact details for your Academic Liaison Librarian, on your Library subject guide 

Tip #4: Think more, read less 

It’s important that you think critically about you’re reading. This requires you to see the links between various theories and consider what they mean for your research question. So, when taking notes remember to not only record a summary of your reading but more importantly note what you think about what you have read. This will help you when you come to write up. Our video on critical note taking offers some advice on this. 

Tip #5: Attend a webinar 

The Library and Study Advice teams are running a series of webinars for Masters students working on their dissertations. The Masters Dissertation Fair is back for another year, covering a range of topics from selecting a reference management tool, to structuring your literature review.   

 

Webinars will run online every day from Monday 5th - Friday 9th June. On the last day we will be running an in person writing retreat so you progress your writing, and a hands-on literature searching session. These friendly and helpful sessions are open to all Masters students, and you can book a place online here  

Preparing for online exams? Follow our top 5 study tips

Retro photo of Reading students sitting examsLike many students, you may be experiencing a new type of exam this year: the ‘online exam’. In due course, you’ll be informed about what this means for your course and we urge you to follow the advice your lecturers give you. Below are our Study Advice tips about revising and preparing for this form of assessment

Tip #1: Revise as you would normally

Right now, you should be revising as you would normally for your modules. Make a revision timetable (see video) and start going over the content. You won’t have long between having the paper and submitting your answer. So now is the time to reflect on what you’ve learnt. It’s also important that you revise according to the type of exam you’re taking: we have videos covering all types of exams, from MCQs to essay-based exams, to help guide you.

Tip #2: Practise active revision

Make your revision as active as possible using a variety of techniques: make an online study group with friends, mind map the content, use post-it notes and revision cards to test key concepts. Whilst your exams may be in a different form to some previous years, you can still make effective use of past papers to test your understanding and application of knowledge. Above all, don’t waste time re-writing out your notes or just reading through content; these are passive techniques and are unlikely to help!

Tip #3: Be organised

It’s likely that you won’t have long to submit your answers, once you are given the paper. Make sure you create a system for organising your notes on any particular subject; you’re going to want to access the most relevant information as quickly as you can.

Tip #4: Watch for unintentional plagiarism and collusion

It’s OK to revise with others (in fact this can be an effective way of testing yours and your friend’s understanding) but once you have been issued with the paper, it’s important that you work on it alone. You will be asked to submit your work through Turnitin, which will match your work with others that have been submitted, as well as information from the internet, books and journals. Make sure it’s all your own work, as you would for any other assessment.

Tip #5: Prepare for the day

You may be given a set time to sit the exam and submit your answers. Make sure you are fully prepared beforehand by:

  • Ensuring you have somewhere quiet to work, where you won’t be disturbed
  • Checking you have the technology you need: access to Bb, Turnitin and Wifi
  • Having access to all the material you need. I’d also suggest a clock to ensure you’re keeping on track
  • Ensuring you fully understand the format of the exam, how you are being asked to submit answers and have done any trial runs that have been made available to you

Good luck!

Wondering how you can get the most out of your lectures? Follow our quick tips:

students in a lecture theatre image

So, we’re now a few weeks into the term and students have been asking us how to ensure they get the most out of their lectures without spending hours refining their notes or worrying that they may have missed some vital information. Here’s some tips from your friendly Study Advice team:

1. Before the lecture

To get the most out of lectures you should prepare beforehand.

  • Do some pre reading – if you have been given some reading for the lecture, read it beforehand. You might also want to look at the outline of the lecture and get an overview of the topic from the web or a core textbook. If you have subject terminology to get your head around, putting together a glossary of terms will help you follow the lecture. The more knowledge you have when you attend the lecture, the more you will get out of it.
  • Check out the slides – you should be given access to the slides before the lecture. Do have a quick look through so you know what will be covered. You can use this in conjunction with your reading to identify any sections you particularly want to listen out for.
  • Prepare for your note taking – decide whether you want to take notes online or on paper. You should use the slides to help you. Either printing them off with 3 slides and notes on a page, or consider saving them in a folder, if you wish to take notes electronically.

During the lecture

In the lecture be prepared to listen and engage.

  • Have the slides ready for you to take notes on and be prepared to listen, actively engage and think. This will all help to develop your understanding.
  • Take a note of your thoughts. You don’t need to take notes of everything that is said – instead, add your thinking to the slides and examples that have helped your understanding. What questions have been raised? And what are your thoughts? Many lectures give the opportunity for you to ask these questions and they’ll also be useful for the seminars that follow.

After the lecture

Allocate time to do some thinking and filing

  • Review your notes. As soon as possible after the lecture, spend a bit of time thinking about what you learnt. Skim over your notes and fill in any gaps with the recommended reading.
  • Create a summary. You might want to create a summary note which you can attach (or file) alongside the lecture slides. You could use a spider diagram or something like the Cornell approach.
  • File away your notes -either using carefully labelled online folders or a lever arch file and dividers – so you can find them easily when you need them for assessments.

To find out more about making the most out of lectures and seminars, check out our guide and attend our weekly webinars, including on managing your reading and notetaking on 19th October.

Starting your dissertation? Follow our top 5 study tips

So, you may have just finished your exams but now you have to turn your attention to your dissertation. Where do you begin and how can you ensure you stay on track? Below are our Study Advice and Library tips to help you get started and stay focused.  

Tip #1: Have a plan 

Having a plan not only helps you to stay on track but weekly goals keep you motivated. Work backwards from your hand in date and remember to build in extra time for proof reading and final touches. Our videos on managing your time offer some tips to get you started.  

Tip #2: Start with something small 

To help you get going, start with a task that you can get done easily. This might be something simple, like setting up a word template or printing off a couple of key articles. Being able to complete one task can give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to tackle more challenging ones. 

Tip #3: Think about the information that you need… 

….and how to access it! If you are carrying out a literature review, or analysing documents or literature, make sure that you are familiar with the key online resources in your subject area. You can find out more about what’s available to you, as well as contact details for your Academic Liaison Librarian, on your Library subject guide 

Tip #4: Think more, read less 

It’s important that you think critically about what you’re reading. This requires you to see the links between various theories and consider what they mean for your research question. So, when taking notes remember to not only record a summary of your reading but more importantly note what you think about what you have read. This will help you when you come to write up. Our video on critical note taking offers some advice on this. 

Tip #5: Attend a webinar or a workshop 

The Library and Study Advice teams are running a series of sessions for Masters students working on their dissertations. The Masters Dissertation Fair is back for a third year, covering a range of topics from selecting a reference management tool, to structuring your literature review.   

 

Webinars and workshops will run online from Monday 6th - Friday 10th June. These friendly and helpful sessions are open to all Masters students, and you can book a place online here: 

https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/webinars/dissertation-fair

Getting ready for the exam season! Top tips from the Study Advice team.

Have you started thinking about exams yet? This year, some exams will continue with the take-home format, while, in some other cases, in-person exams may be returning! Whatever the case may be for your subject, getting organised early is key.

Study Advice is here to help! Check below our top 10 tips for exam success and info on all the additional resources and interactive support we offer:

 

For efficient revision…

 

  1. Make a plan! Check when your exams are scheduled and allow yourself plenty of time for revision in small doses.
  2. Note the format of your exams. Format may differ among different Schools and modules; make sure your information is correct and up to date, so you can prepare accordingly.
  3. Go beyond your lecture notes. You can’t revise everything in detail, so select fewer topics to focus on in more depth. Check your reading list for further reading; think how you’d use what you’ve read to answer a question. Use your module’s revision session to ask questions or clarifications of the module convenor.
  4. Past papers are your friends! Use them to work out how many topics to revise, to practise writing quick plans and timed answers, and to familiarise yourself with exam instructions. Past papers are available at the exams office archive.
  5. Take good care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, sleep properly, and give yourself time off – taking breaks will reinvigorate your brain and increase your efficiency in processing information.

 

On exam day…

 

  1. Read the questions carefully. Don’t just look for familiar key words; check again. You might find the topic you are well prepared for is worded differently.
  2. Use outlines before your start writing. Think about the key points in your answer and dedicate a paragraph to each one. To structure your paragraph, make your point early and clearly, then give your evidence and analysis to support it, and end with a concluding sentence to link the point back to the question.
  3. Work out your timings. Know when you need to move on to the next question. Spend longer on questions worth more marks and allow time for checking. If your exam is not timed, it is still advisable to stick to recommended timing and word count; this will help you understand the scope required to cover and avoid going off topic.
  4. Don’t panic! Under pressured conditions in invigilated, time-bound exams, you may initially feel you don’t know enough; go over the question again and put down in a list what you do know. If you go blank, take a few deep breaths and don’t push yourself to remember. Instead, move to a question you can answer and return afterwards. Chances are you will remember when your brain isn’t under pressure.

 

After the exam…

 

  1. Reflect on your experience. What strategies worked well? Use these in your preparation for the following exams.

 

For more tips on exams revision, how to approach different types of questions, exam room strategies, and more, check out our Study Advice exam prep resources.

We are also planning interactive sessions you can join to discuss your questions or practise in exam-room conditions. Book your place via our Webinars and Workshops page.

  • Wednesday 23 March, 2:00pm-3:00pm: Revising for university exams (online)
  • Wednesday 20 April, 1:00pm-2:00pm: Preparing for in-person exams (face to face)
  • Wednesday 20 April, 2:30-4:30pm: Practice exam workshop (face to face)

Best of luck to all!