You might already have your own study methods but here are some useful things to consider to help you study at university.
If you have difficulty in reading print quickly and/or for long periods, or have problems in seeing boards and other display screens, ensure that this is documented in your support plan so that print and other visual materials can be provided to you in your preferred format. This will also include issues surrounding making and using notes and presenting your work.
Some basic guidelines may help you here:
- Try to get a study area, with your equipment set up, in the college or university - some spaces can be very busy at certain times so make sure you try it out at different times during the day.
- Organise your time and spread your reading load, i.e. pace yourself.
- After trying out various study combinations, apply whichever combination suits you best.
- Organise your notes (or any made for you) so that you can use them easily later. If this poses difficulties, speak to your personal tutor.
- Make sure that you hand work in on time. If you believe you will need more time to complete your assignment/s, discuss it with your tutor as early as you can so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Try to avoid requesting too many extensions regarding assignment deadlines as the work will just build up!
- Sort out your study area at home. Make sure it is comfortable and the layout suits you.
- Select a combination of study methods
- Organise your material so that you can find material when you need it. Using notes for assignment work or revision will be much easier if you do.
- Work out a storage system that suits the medium you use and your filing system.
Making notes in lectures and classes needs some thought. If you ask the lecturer before the class to give you an idea of the aims of the session and what is to be covered, you can prepare yourself. Sometimes you may need to make detailed notes; at other times it may be best to sit and listen attentively. When making notes, remember that a word for word account probably will not be of much use. Concentrate on getting down the important points that will help you remember what was said, understand the points, revise easily and be useful for future work.
If you are recording, set up your equipment in order to get best recording, and if you can, use the pause button. Make sure you discuss this with your lecturer so that they can accomodate your recording especially if they like to move around a lot when presenting!
Equipment allowing access to information ranges from the simple (felt tip pens, magnification aids, reading lamps), to the complex and sophisticated (electronic braillers, scanners and associated computer equipment such as magnification and screen reading software).
It is vital that your equipment needs have been assessed by staff who have the necessary expertise. Any assessment of your equipment needs should focus on the following:
- Which format is appropriate: print, large print, audio/aural, braille, or perhaps a combination of these?
- Is output going to be print, speech, braille or a combination of all three?
- Where is information about the range of equipment available?
- What criteria should apply to the choice of technology? For example, curriculum requirements?
- How competent are you at using the technology and what training will you require? Don’t forget that you will be working as an independent learner, which will require you using your technology to conduct your own independent research.
Non-visual study methods
Decisions regarding the appropriate technology to use will always be individual ones, based upon your particular needs as a student, the requirements of the curriculum and the resources available.
Braille can be an excellent method of study but needs training from specialists, if you are not already fluent. Learning braille to grade two standard is likely to take a lengthy period of time and requires a great deal of commitment. For details about where to learn braille contact your local voluntary society for the blind, social services or the RNIB Helpline on 0845 766 9999 or email [email protected]
The transcription of printed material into braille must be arranged in advance, unless braille copies already exist. Alternatively, you could consider using an electronic braille display in order to read electronic documents.
Taking an audio-recording of books, lectures and so on can be very useful. You may not be used to this way of doing things but it is worth thinking about using digital files, both to get access to print and as a way of presenting some of your work. However, it is recommended that recording lectures should only be a back-up method for obtaining information particularly if you intend to pursue a full-time course.
You may want to use a personal reader from time to time, either to read onto a digital recording device or directly to you, so you should speak to the Disability Support Office for advice about arranging this.
Individual exam arrangements
You may be entitled to Individual Examination Arrangements (IEAs) such as a reader, scribe or extra time and rest breaks. If you have extra time for your exams you may be able to request sitting only one examination per day. For example, where 50 per cent extra time may be given for a three hour examination, it is not reasonable to sit two six hour exams in one day. Speak with your disability or support co-ordinator about your individual examination requirements.
Disabled students' allowance (DSA)
If you are studying at university, your Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) may cover the costs of support workers such as Readers or Scribes, to assist you in your examinations. It can also cover the costs of Study Skills tutorials in certain circumstances so it is always worth discussing this with your DSA Assessor if you think you would benefit from this support.
Top study tips
You can also read other students' top study tips below:
There are a number of useful resources including: