What key areas should I consider if I want to achieve this year?

Watch-hand You want to have a life outside study while still meeting deadlines - so make sure you get organised early!

Don't get caught out by a heavier workload, independent work and increased responsibility. Consider how you worked best last year and at what times, and work this into your routine.

Experienced students have suggested that getting organised early on can set you on the right foot for the year ahead.


Check out this help on Time Management skills from The Open University, including dealing with distractions and procrastination.

Research (Photo by William Iven on Unsplash)So, you have to do more reading. For each of your modules you will have reading lists - decide which of  these you need to focus on, while others you can skim read.

While reading around your subject you’ll need to include research from more up to date publications and journals, and you will need to reference these in your assignments.

Tip arrowIf you feel annoyed by big gaps between lectures on campus, utilise this time in the library so you can keep your evening free.

Step-up3The library will become your new friend if you have not already found it. Librarians can help you find related material, particularly if nothing on your reading list is available. Check out the following pages:

- research (Library) - practical guidance on how to improve your research skills

- researching (Study Skills) - resources to help with your researching skills including short guides on note-taking and reading effectively to help with your time management 

- referencing (Study Skills) - guides on referencing and referencing styles.

person standing on beach with reflectionDid you know that reflecting on your learning experiences can help make your approach to learning more effective and increase your chances of success?

Reflecting on previous experiences – good or bad – can help you improve and develop knowledge and skills, particularly with all that independent learning you have to do! Starting now will also make the step into your final year easier.

Tip arrowUsing your feedback is essential to your development. Ensure you read feedback online and speak to your tutors about where you have done well and what areas you might need to focus on to improve.


Try using the Reflecting page for experiences from your first year. You can do this on your own or with your peers so you can learn from each other. Try doing this as you go along, especially following each completed assignment. You may also find this reflection sheet helpful.

Comparing apples

You will find that you are expected to approach your learning and assignments more critically.

This means not taking what you read or hear for granted, but instead looking very closely at the detail.

Critical thinking is about questioning and learning with an open mind:

  • Look at the information and resources you use in your work (see 'Critiquing Sources' on this Study Skills page)
  • when reading the work of others, ask the right questions and check for hidden bias and assumptions (read the 'Critical Reading' guide on this page);
  • weigh up different arguments, opinions and perspectives* 
  • use evidence to help in forming your own ideas and arguments*.

The more you think and write critically, the easier it will become.


For further information on critical thinking and analysis look at this The Study Space page, or the Study Skills page on Analysing. 

*See the 'Developing Critical Skills' on the above Analysing page

For most of the above skills you can attend a Study Skills workshop instead of, or in addition to, the online learning - or book a tutorial.