Study strategies

There is a big difference between studying at university level compared to studying at upper secondary school. University studies often mean a relative freedom, but this also places demands on you to take a personal responsibility to do your studies or to get help if you need it. 

Studying on your own requires motivation, self-discipline, concentration, and planning. Your study technique is therefore important. Study technique can be the art of underlining the right things in a book, knowing how to "skim read" literature, or how to plan your reading. Study technique can also be the art of planning your entire study situation in detail. It can be good to know your learning style, ie how exactly you learn best.

How do work best?

There is a lot that affects your studies: motivation, prior knowledge, study habits/methods, study/living environment, and, of course, who you are and your experiences. It is important that you start thinking about how you study and what type of environment you need to have to get as good a set-up as possible to succeed with your studies.

Use the time you are most alert to work with the most difficult study material. Start with mental preparation and focus on what you need to do. Limit study sessions. It will be easier to both get started and stay focused if you know it’s for a set time. Take one thing at a time.

Everyone learns in different ways. Find active study methods based on your learning style, for example, taking notes, asking questions about what you are reading, discussing with others, summarising main ideas, and quizzing yourself.

  • Where do you study the best? At home, at the department/campus, or the library?
  • When do you read best? Are you an evening or morning person?
  • How do you learn the best? By listening to the material? By discussing it with your course mates?

Are you a procrastinator?

Do you have to put pressure on yourself to get started with a job, or are you a person who is mostly ready in time before the deadline? If you take two different motivational strategies and try to figure out which one you recognise yourself in.

  • Do you motivate yourself from something? It feels difficult to deal with the task, perhaps demanding or overwhelming. The principle of pleasure for the moment applies and there is often a distaste of a bad conscience or guilt.
  • Do you motivate yourself to something? You enjoy the feeling of being ready and/or of having performed the task.

If you identify which your procrastination patterns are you may recognise the next time the thoughts come and you can try to work against them. You can also try to learn which stress symptoms that lead to procrastination. Realise that you can endure them and can work to manage them. Read more of our tips for procrastination.


Concentration is the ability to direct and control attention and is a mental process that can be influenced. You can create concentration. Choose a study place with as few distractions as possible. Clear your mind of distractions by letting them out through writing, talking to someone, making lists, or planning a time to deal with them later.

Something important to stay concentrated is to take breaks and find motivation.

  • Take regular breaks to move and counteract tension in the body. Try some relaxation exercises.
  • Pause for processing, so that the information can sink in.
  • Take a break to eat, the body and the brain need new energy.
  • Motivate yourself. Practice a positive inner dialogue. Think about what you have achieved. 
  • Think about the goal of the course and focus on the task at hand. Focus on today and now, not on yesterday or tomorrow.

If you want advice or individual support, do not hesitate to contact the Student Health Service. You can also get help by participating in our groups and seminars.