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Students’ Union

Advice & Information Centre


Southampton University Students’ Union

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre (SUAIC) OPEN Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9.00am - 5.00pm & Wed 11.00am - 5.00pm Vacation periods: 10.00am - 5.00pm Wed 11.00am - 3.00pm Contacting SUAIC: Telephone:

023 8059 2085


023 8059 5235




Students’ Union Building 40 Southampton University University Road Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

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We are an appointments based service, however, occasionally quick queries can be dealt with immediately. All other enquiries will need an appointment. Check with SUAIC for Winchester School of Art surgeries. The advice and information service is provided by a team of trained and experienced staff who deal with matters of particular relevance to students.

SUAIC Mission Statement:

The Students' Union Advice & Information Centre aims to provide all students at the University of Southampton with free, independent, confidential advice and representation in a friendly, relaxed environment.


How to STUDY SUCCESSFULLY (including Avoiding Plagiarism)

Who is this booklet for? This booklet is for all students who would like help in improving their study skills, reaching their potential and for those who might find it hard to cope under the pressure of exams. Everyone is different and so a good place to start might be to find out what kind of a learner you are. The University have a website that can help answer that question. It also has basic advice on how to improve your skills base. You can find this information on: Additionally, you can get top tips on everything from what to do before the exam, on the day of the exam and how to relax with Union based activities at:

Course Handbook Your course handbook will give you essential information on course requirements, how to reference, and how you will be taught. It should be a constant source of reference to you. If it is already collecting dust under your bed then fish it out or go online for a copy. If you reference your work badly then the school won’t accept the excuse that you didn’t read your handbook. It is there to help and guide you.

Learning Differences What is Dyslexia? Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty characterised by a problem with the automatic development of skills that is unexpected in relation to an individual’s other cognitive abilities. It can affect spelling, reading speed and essay writing. Check out the website at the back of this booklet for more details.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


How to Study Successfully

I think I might be dyslexic – what should I do?

Below are some tips on various areas of academic work.

Contact Education Support, which is part of Student Support, and ask for a screening interview. You will meet with a specialist tutor who will discuss any difficulties you might be experiencing and also give you a short computer-based test. If there is a possibility of dyslexia you will be offered a full diagnostic assessment. These take around 2-3 hours and explore various aspects of your cognitive profile and your current literacy skills. A couple of weeks later you will receive a full written report and verbal feedback and advice.

Managing Your Time

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Education Support studentsupport/disability. The skills associated with successful studying, and managing exams, are not innate. All skills can be learnt, practised, and developed.


Keep a balance between studying and socialising – remember the importance of rewards and ‘treats’. Be honest with yourself – do you really need to alphabetise your cd collection and clean the back of your oven before you settle down to study? You might also have the urge to drink far more tea than usual and eat lots of snacks. These are just excuses – take regular breaks but stick to a schedule. Avoid distractions – turn off your mobile phone and instant messenger service. Log out of Facebook and settle down for at least 40 minutes of uninterrupted study. Prioritise and Plan – decide your most important tasks, and give them the appropriate time and attention.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

How to Study Successfully

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Break large tasks into smaller and more manageable chunks – then focus on one chunk at a time. Keep flexible – real life means you cannot plan for everything. Being too rigid may increase stress when plans have to change. Be realistic – achieve at your best level but do not expect too much of yourself. Don’t fall in to the trap of handing work in late because you want it to be perfect.

Effective Reading Some students try to avoid reading altogether whilst others get drowned in too much reading. Follow guidance from your school and make sure you read in a way that will benefit your studies:• Read with a purpose, and ask yourself “What information am I trying to find out?”

Selective reading – scan for a specific focus, and practise skimming for a general overview. However… Detailed reading is appropriate for extracting accurate information if you need to perform an indepth examination of a text. Ask yourself “What mode of reading is appropriate?”

Note Taking This is one of the most important skills to master while at university. The ability to absorb and summarise large amounts of information is one of the signs of a successful student, and will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. The ability to do this is best learnt on the job: in taking notes from seminars/lectures/reading.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


How to Study Successfully

Here are three top tips: • Be selective, that is the whole point of the exercise.

Write down key words, not sentences, in order to achieve the above.

• Tidy up, and summarise, your notes •

after your seminar/lecture/reading. REMEMBER to source your notes as you go to avoid breaches in Academic Integrity.


Be very careful when making notes. Ensure that you can tell which notes are yours and which are from a book/internet source (students who do not make careful notes often become confused about which ideas are theirs and which are from another source). This is one of the most common ways of plagiarising material and you will be caught out. See our section on plagiarism.


Essay Writing This is a key skill for any student, studying any subject. Here are three tips. Combine them with information in your course handbook: • Start your research early • Look carefully at the essay subject and title, and stand back. Ask yourself “Am I being asked to discuss, compare, contrast, consider, evaluate, analyse or summarise?” You will save yourself a lot of time if you ask yourself the basic questions at the start. • Structure: Introduction – your understanding and approach to the question and the content you intend to cover. Main Body – each paragraph should contain a theme/topic backed up by supporting arguments and analysis. Conclusion – a summary of the essay, showing the conclusion of your analysis of the evidence presented.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

How to Study Successfully

Exam Time Exam time = anxiety and stress. Some stress is normal, but these feelings can be kept under control by making sensible preparations and following these tips:

Balance You are unlikely to achieve your best by locking yourself away on a reviseathon for hours at a time. Similarly, long nights at the Union bar are probably not appropriate during revision period. Make yourself a timetable which allows time for both. Your attention span is probably slightly less than an hour so give yourself a break for 10 – 15 minutes every hour. Balanced, disciplined and concentrated revision is the most effective approach.

If you have prepared well and stuck to a schedule then you might even relish the chance to show off what you’ve learnt in the exams.

Deal or No Deal? It might seem like a cliché that students watch too much daytime TV. But avoid it during exam period as it will suck away hours of your revision time if you’re not careful. Imagine wasting a precious hour of revision time just to see someone win a fiver in a red box!

Sleep It is difficult to change your routine, but do try to get a good night’s sleep during the revision period. Any less may impair your ability to concentrate and this in turn may add to your stress. Listen to your body and do not cover the signs with Red Bull and coffee. Get an early night and start afresh the next day.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


How to Study Successfully

Exercise Morning exercise will aid a regular sleep pattern and really set you up for a day of study. It increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Physical stimulation will help reduce stress. Get your heart pumping with something you enjoy. This may involve a brisk walk, warming up with some gentle stretching or joining one of the Union’s many and varied sports societies. It may be useful to include this in your exam schedule.

Take Advice You will have already worked out some of your own study techniques. Share your tips with others and be receptive to any suggestions that they might have. Housemates, personal tutors and the course handbook are all valuable resources.


It is well worth finding out about and attending any revision sessions organised by your course tutors, and many departments will be able to tell you where to get old exam scripts and may have past papers available from the school office.

Help! I’m not coping . . . Make sure that you look after your physical and mental health around the exam period. If you are finding that you are tempted to cover your stress with drink, drugs or over work then you’ll probably find that your academic work is being affected and you’re suffering from increasing anxiety. If you feel you are unable to cope then there are many sources of help listed in the back of this booklet. You can also seek advice from staff at SUAIC.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

How to Study Successfully

Mentor Support Mentoring is study support for students with disabilities, health conditions or mental health difficulties. The support that they offer is tailored to suit your individual needs and includes support with workload organisation and planning, motivation and morale, study skills and strategies. They can help if you are finding it difficult to study or are worried about meeting your deadlines or completing your work. For example, you may need advice on developing your study skills so as to work more efficiently and effectively, and they also offer advice on revision and exam techniques.

health difficulties. They can also help students experiencing short term crises that interfere with study.

Medical Advice Dr Christine Ursell, Highfield Health GP has provided the following advice for exam day • Aim for a good night’s sleep beforehand.

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Additionally, they may be able to talk to tutors or liaise with your academic departments if necessary. Students of the University are eligible for mentor support if their ability to study effectively is being affected by health conditions and / or mental

Find out where and when the exam is – you want to arrive in plenty of time, feeling calm and in control. You must make sure you have a reasonable amount to eat before the exam. Some people find taking sweets, biscuits or chocolate bars into the exam rooms helpful; it maintains the blood sugar levels. However, first check what is, and is not, allowed to be taken into the exam room. Avoid talking to others outside the exam room – especially those who are panicking. Leave post-mortems to qualified medics.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


How to Study Successfully

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Read the questions. Plan the paper.

Seek advice from your GP if you have any medical problems such as hay fever which may interfere during the exams.

If you feel anxious during your exam then take a ‘time out’. A glass of water/comfort break can help. It is always worth going back into the exam room and trying again.

What could go wrong? Examples of poor academic practice are: Plagiarism, collusion, falsification, cheating, recycling or simply bad referencing. These are all considered under the University’s Academic Integrity Statement for Students (details are at the back of this booklet).

Rule number 1 – check your course handbook and check it again! The reason we have stressed this is because every year we see a number of students facing a hearing regarding plagiarism. In the majority of cases they have not referenced material they have used in the right way. The second most common reason is caused by students not making careful notes, so that they become confused about which ideas are theirs and which are not. If you have been called in to see your department this is what you can and cannot expect from SUAIC: You Can • Expect us to give you a copy of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy, and go through it with you.


Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

How to Study Successfully

Ask us to give you general information on what is likely to help you in your meeting, and what may be less helpful. Ask us to attend the meeting with you.

You Cannot • Expect us to tell you what the outcome will be.

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Ask us to help you to construct deliberate or elaborate untruths Expect us to tell you what to say.

10 ways to avoid a breach of Academic Integrity 1. Read the University’s Guide to Academic Integrity at: www.academic-skills.soton.

4. Follow guidelines if working in groups or pairs. 5. Listen to podcasts at: www.academic-skills.soton. 6. Ask for help from your tutor if you are not sure whether you are referencing properly. 7. Take advice! Follow feedback on written work. 8. Make careful notes detailing page numbers of books and websites where you got your ideas. 9. Don’t rely too heavily on other peoples ideas. 10. Put ideas into your own words so your tutors can see you understand.

2. Read the course handbook and read it again. 3. Attend any special seminars or lectures about referencing.

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


How to Study Successfully

• Expect us to advise you of evidence

APPEALS – Look out for our booklet – How to Deal with Problems Affecting Your Studies (Complaints and Appeals) 2010 - 2011. Every year there will be students who are disappointed by the marks that they receive, or face the termination of the place they have at Southampton University. In some cases this may be because they faced a particular set of serious problems (e.g family or health issues), that there was an identifiable mistake made by their faculty or department or some other material occurrence affected performance. If you are thinking of lodging an appeal this is what you can and cannot expect from SUAIC: You Can • Expect us to go through the regulations with you.

and information that are likely to be helpful, based on our experience of appeals. Ask us to attend the meeting with you.

You Cannot • Expect us to tell you what the outcome will be.

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Expect us to tell you whether or not you should appeal Expect us to tell you what to say.

Conclusion Check all the resources at the back of this booklet and from your school. All these resources are designed to be easy to use and understand. However, if you need further guidance then do not hesitate to speak to academic staff, SUAIC and your friends.



Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

How to Study Successfully


Education Support 39 University Road Highfield Campus edusupport/ Assistive Technology Service


Resources Study Skills Websites: and ldc/academicskills/index.html Blackboard Your Course Handbook How to Study Successfully

Nightline – 8.00pm to 8.00am (term time) Externally 023 8059 5236 Internally 25236

Education Support 39 University Road Highfield Campus disability

University of Southampton Counselling Service 28 University Road Tel: 023 8059 3719 E-mail: counselling/index.html

Disability E-mail: Tel: 02380 597241

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


How to Study Successfully

Mentoring Student Services Centre Email: Tel: 023 8059 7241 Career Destinations Student Services Centre Building 37 Tel: 023 8059 3501


Students’ Union Advice and Information Centre (SUAIC) Students’ Union Building 40 Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ Tel: 023 8059 2085 Email:

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

How to Study Successfully


Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre


Southampton University Students’ Union

Students’ Union Advice & Information Centre

Please note that at time of publication every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this booklet. The Students’ Union Advice and Information Centre and Southampton University Students’ Union cannot accept responsibility for errors, omissions, or subsequent changes in legal requirements. The Information and figures quoted in this publication were believed to be accurate at the time of going to print, but may be subject to change. August 2010

Alternative Formats of this leaflet are available on request. 16