Student Learning

It is important that you make good use of your time in and out of class. You will need to develop effective study habits. Regular revision of your lecture notes within 24 hours, doing the readings and keeping up with your workload during the semester will help you achieve success in your exams.

Managing your time
  • Do you never have enough time in your day?

  • Do you leave things to the last minute?

Successful people have good time management skills. By setting and completing tasks, you'll get a sense of achievement and feel productive.

Set up a study routine:

  1. Mark all assignment dates on your wall planner or diary:
    Workload planner (pdf - 38KB)
    Assignment Planner ( pdf 240KB)

  2. Mark in all of your fixed weekly commitments such as work, sport etc:
    Week planner (pdf - 254KB)
    Allocating your time (pdf - 361KB)

  3. Plan your study times. You will need 8-10 hours for each week per undergraduate course. Include readings, summarising, reviewing notes, researching, asking questions about your readings and lectures, study groups, planning and drafting assignments:
    Suggested study routine (pdf - 388KB)

Watch other people talk about time management

Develop your skills:

Come to Student Learning's workshops on Time Management


Taking effective notes

At university it is essential that you learn how to take good lecture notes. Note taking helps with understanding and retention of lecture and reading material. You will also need to refer to your notes at a later date as you study for tests and exams.

You can enhance the quality of your notes by employing techniques such as using white space, developing your own system and format for recording information, and reworking your notes: Note taking tips (pdf - 455KB).

It is also important to become an effective listener: Effective listening (pdf - 427KB).

Student Learning offers workshops in Practical Note-taking which can help you develop these skills.

Improving your memory

People's ability to remember information varies. Some people retain more info by listening to a lecture, while others prefer an audiovisual presentation.

Find useful strategies on Memory skills (pdf - 798KB).

Setting up peer study groups

Peer study groups are a way of learning in a group with other students. By studying together you are more likely to perform better in your subject area, establish routines and network with other people at VUW. Research has shown time management, motivation, and avoiding isolation are key factors in student success especially in first year. Student Learning research also shows that a peer study group is one of the best ways to improve retention and success in exams.

Peer study groups can help you:

  • establish these important skills
  • develop critical thinking
  • explore a deeper understanding of your subject area
  • learn valuable group or team skills

So, join a study group, like PASS, or set up your own study group Self-help guide to study groups (pdf - 338KB).

Passing exams

Preparation for exams and tests starts on day one of the trimester. Go to all your lectures and revise daily by reworking your notes within 24 hours after the lecture. Plug gaps in knowledge and understanding as soon as possible after you encounter a difficult lecture or concept. Our handout Effective listening (pdf - 427KB) tells you how to maximise lectures, while our handout Memory skills (pdf - 798KB) tells you how to keep your brain active in order to improve your memory of material.

Strategise to pass your exams and tests by:

  • finding out what is in the paper

  • simulating the exam or test experience.

Find out what is in the paper by looking at exam papers from previous years on blackboard or in the exam paper database in the link to the right. In the case of tests or exams for new papers, try asking lecturers and tutors how the paper will be structured and what types of questions will be asked.

Simulate the exam or test using old papers or mock questions. Give yourself the same amount of time allowed in the exam, and practise writing answers or doing calculations. Doing this in a group can be fun, and you can discuss each others' answers. This activity will help you realise what you don't know, and it will also help you beat some of the stress that comes with exams.

Other useful advice on how to manage exams and tests is in:

Facing exams without fear (pdf -341 KB)

Maths exams (pdf - 254KB)


To further improve your study skills: