Being a student

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Getting the skills for study

Preparing to study or returning to study can be daunting. However, there is a lot of help available for students who need support with basic or study skills.

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Before you start a higher education level course

Improve your skills through activities in the Improve your skills section of Lifepilot.

When you are on a higher education level course

Universities and colleges have specially trained staff (study skills advisors) that support students with study skills, exams and assessments.  They also offer short courses to help with particular skills. 

As you work through your course it is likely that you will get better at academic writing and reading, and of course, your tutors will support you in this with feedback and advice. 

Universities and colleges often offer tools to help you prepare for study. Here is an example from the Open University.

The skills you will need for study

The skills you need will depend on the course you choose to study.  For example, if you choose a course that is scientific or mathematical you will need to have good number skills, or the capacity to develop these. There are, however, many study skills that are general. 

Read more about learning to learn

Reading and Writing

Academic reading and writing is different from the reading and writing you will have experienced at school or work.  Academic reading requires you to get specific information from text and then use this information in your academic writing to discuss issues and develop arguments and your own ideas. 

Find out more about academic reading

Find out more about improving your academic writing

Along with your academic reading and writing skills you will need to be able to reference correctly.  Your course information will include full details on what is expected of you. 

See an example of how to cite references

Learn more about referencing

Research skills

You will need to be able to find and access information both in print form and electonically. Your university or college will usually include information and guidance on this as part of your induction. You will be taught how to use the library and how to access the resources you need for your course.

More about research skills

Thinking skills

Your course will require you to start thinking in new ways. You will be presented with new knowledge and ideas and will be encouraged to explore your own thoughts. You will be asked to be critical, to evaluate and to analyse. 

Start to develop your thinking skills here

Maths and Science

If the course you choose is related to maths or science you will need to develop specific skills. 

Find out more about the skills needed for maths and science

Brush up on your Maths and Science skills through The Open University skills guide

Communication skills

You will need to have or develop skills related to communicating. These skills range from giving presentations to your peers and tutors, to working effectively in groups. 

Learn about presentation skills

Find out about working in groups

Personal skills

Having and developing personal management skills will be important for success in your studies. You will need to be able to manage your workload and your time - especially if you are juggling working with studying part-time and looking after your family. 

Improve your time management skills.

Where you can get support for study skills

Universities and colleges are keen to offer support to their learners through their student advisers and offer a full range of short courses related to study skills.  Search the website of the university or college you would like to apply to for details of student advisers and support offered to help with study skills. Find a provider.

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