“How to make the most of your studies?” is a question that is often asked. What are the best techniques to learning and studying and how can the student achieve the grades that they truly deserve?

As a dyslexic student, I have not always found the whole studying process easy. I needed to put in a lot of hard work and commitment. Throughout my time at QMU I have had a positive attitude to everything. I believe the key to success is beginning your studies with the right approach. This means undertaking all work given and not just graded assessments, going to all the classes and making sure that you answer and join in with discussions. It is not a mathematical formula to studying and there is no one-size fits all. This is why I believe that you should find your own way of doing things. Some people work best in the morning, others in the night. It is all about knowing yourself and making sure that you find your own way. A key element is the choice of study environment. QMU was designed to accommodate a variety of environments so that everyone can find a space that works for them.

What do I associate with a person who is good at studying?

  • Works hard and if they need to put in more hours they do!
  • Begins early - leaving plenty of time ahead?
  • Is able to prioritise - work comes first (but it does not stop you from playing!)
  • Taking every opportunity that comes their way
  • Expecting to get out what they put in? What you put in is what you get out.
  • Participates - participation in the widest sense is a key to success

The Learning Resource Centre (including a number of liaison librarians and Effective Learning Service are there to assist students. 

Liaison librarian

I found the assistance of the library staff excellent. Their years of experience can assist you in making the most of your time at QMU. Whether it was my first appointment (in year one) letting me know the basics or a more detailed chat about content for a level three assignment, my liaison librarian was always able to assist me. The ELS team assists students with a variety of areas of academic practice, from understanding what an assignment question may be asking to how to reference correctly. They also offer 'one on ones' and group sessions. They are there to see that you do your best, so don't be like some students, leaving the use of them until level four.

Remember that the brightest person in the class may not end up doing as well as they thought. I feel so pleased that my hard work got me a first class honours degree.

Disability support

The university has designated disability advisors so if you need support while a student at QMU they are there to help you. They made sure the assistance I needed was put in place. This led to a Individual Learning Plan, detailing the areas from which I would benefit. This meant that as a Dyslexic student they were aware of the things I needed.

List of things required to succeed

  • Buy core text books (new or second hand) so you can make the most of the book (LRC might not have enough copies).
  • Take notes in class and review them afterwards.
  • If you struggle to remember things, record lectures.
  • Print out lecture slides, it’s a great way to take your notes and leads to better connections.
  • Do the work for class as soon as it's posted, don’t wait or you may run out of time.
  • Emails and The Hub - don’t forget to check them (areas where lecturers post notes and work content).
  • Family might not understand content but are a free proof-reading service.
  • Lecturers want to see you succeed so they will answer any questions.
  • It’s not school, they do not spoon feed you!
  • Friends do not always make the best work partners.
  • Plan, prioritise, organise.
  • Diaries are excellent as long as you write in them.
  • Note down deadlines and work out a schedule; remember unforeseen things may appear, knocking you off course.
  • Fail to prepare is preparation to fail.
  • Group work is inevitable so just get on with it.
  • University is not just about the academic side of things.
  • Highlighters are a must-have for studying.
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat right and drink enough water
  • Down time is key, time away from books and screens help you recharge.      


  • Note taking is important and not just a transcribing exercise (don’t just copy what the lecturer says, summarise them).
  • Once you read a book or journal, you should make notes that mean you remember more of what is said and note down references as this saves time and stress later on.
  • If your writing is not neat, transcribe all notes onto a PC.
  • Computers and tablets are useful for note taking but should not get in the way of learning.

If you decide that you need more support there is the QMConnect Mentor programme, where you can be matched with a student who has already gone through what you are experiencing in terms of studies and settling in to university life.

If in doubt  - ask!

Callum McEachern

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