Studying for a degree or an equivalent qualification is something which requires pace. Many students don’t feel as though they achieve their full potential at University, and this happens for a number of reasons. These five tips will help you make the best of studying for your degree, and achieving the best qualification possible at the end of it.

Plan Ahead

Most university degrees are weighed so that around 75% of your final award is based on your third year modules and exam results, 25% is based on your 2nd year – so nothing from your first year counts towards your final classification. This makes quite a lot of sense as, in your first year, you’re adapting to the pace and ways of learning and, if you err, nothing is held against you. However, a lot of students get things back to front, working extremely hard in their first year, less so in their second year and burning out in their third, when it counts the most. Other students, away from home for the first time and overdosing on newly found freedom, only settle down to serious study in their second year – not too late if they pass their first year – but this leaves them having to catch up.

Master the Basics

Your first year modules won’t be as challenging as your second or third year modules and this is intended to ease you in to your studies. If you, like many students, haven’t mastered fundamentals such as correctly referencing an essay, your first year gives you the opportunity to get this right. Even the best essay will lose marks if it’s not referenced, or referenced correctly, so by your second year you don’t want to be losing marks for things like this. Many students are also new to planning and delivering presentations – something that can go badly wrong quickly – and your first year gives you the chance to learn from the car-crash moments we all go through at some point.


During your seminars you’ll get to know your lecturers – and it helps to get on with them. If you’re unsure about something, look up your lecturer’s office hours and drop in, and even if you’re not unsure about something, drop in anyway. Get to know the library staff, the staff in the labs, also have a quick chat with the security guards: if you forget your pass one morning, getting in won’t be a problem. Also make friends – on your course but where-ever you can.

Develop a Routine

If you get into the habit of going to the library, spending the evenings reading, and writing your essays before they’re due, by your second year this will come naturally and make life a lot easier. Routines can be humdrum, but there is also satisfaction to be gained from making yourself do something you don’t want to do, whether it’s that extra hour searching through journals or simply waking up early to revise.

Find Work Quickly

If you’re going to work at any point in your academic career, your first year is probably the best time. Although you won’t have a lot of free time, you’ll have less as time goes on, so working a part-time job and saving up as much as possible will mean you can work less (or not at all) as you move into your second and third year. The blog entry that follows this one explores this in more detail.

Finally, don’t forget to use to check all of your work for plagiarism. is an essential tool enabling you to scan your work against billions of web pages, journals and other sources, to ensure you haven’t accidentally plagiarised.

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