21 Study Hacks from SOAS Students


There’s no one way to study. Finding what works for you takes time and testing things out. It can feel daunting when you have to sit down to study. Procrastination can hit and suddenly everything else in existence comes to mind:

My next coffee will make me productive…
I need to tidy my room immediately
Should I start to crochet??

With a bit of tweaking to your routine and a fresh outlook, the time you spend studying can become much more effective. For the start of term 2, we asked students to share what works for them. Find your next study tip and make each study session count this term.

Study Smarter

  • “Create a study plan (and stick to it). Have a schedule for your revision and plan what you’re covering for each session.”
  • “As much as I tried to avoid it cause it’s LONG, when notetaking nothing beats writing sentences out in full.”
  • “Mind maps from memory.”
  • “Essay: spend a long time planning, short time writing.”
  • “Note-take across devices. Make the most of student offers for things like Notion and Evernote.”
  • “Talk through your ideas with someone, it helps order your thoughts.”
  • “START EARLY: Don’t fall into the trap of starting late!”

Avoid Distractions

  • “Close. All. The Random. Tabs. When. You’re. Studying.”
  • “The Sprout app is great to help with focusing.”
  • “Try not to look at your phones whilst studying.”
  • “Avoid group study. It leads to chatting instead of work.”

Get in the Flow

  • “Listening to lo-fi music when reading.”
  • “Brown noise! Like the sound of being on an airplane ✈️ “
  • “Listening to white noise or calm Lana del Ray songs always help me whilst writing essays.”
  • “Study along with ‘study with me’ YouTube videos (my favourite is James Scholz).”
Lofi Girl on YouTube

Work on Your Surroundings

  • “Create a nice setting and move places as it changes spark, motivations, and focus.”
  • “Make your study notes pretty and aesthetically pleasing!”
  • “Make the effort to go out and study at the nearest library instead of staying in your room.”

Listen to What You Need

  • “Snacks are a must! Healthy or otherwise :)”
  • “Take breaks at least every 30 minutes, or break just before you start to get distracted and procrastinate.”
  • “Go for walks and get enough sleep – you will remember more if you do!”

Ask for Support

Remember that not everyone’s learning style is the same and what works for someone else may not work for you – and that’s ok! If you need more specific support, the SOAS Student Learning Centre has a range of resources to help you develop study skills. You can request a 1-1 tutorial to assist you on a range of topics: planning and organising, referencing, managing time and developing critical thinking skills. If you have any questions or would like extra support, get in touch with academicdevelopment@soas.ac.uk.

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