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Study skills

Study skills are the skills you need to study and learn effectively at university. Skilled learners are committed to developing their study skills and building self-awareness that supports their learning. They acknowledge the importance of hard work and dedication for their academic performance. 

Assessing and developing your study skills is an integral part of university life. When you first start your studies, it is only normal and to be expected that your study skills do not yet match academic demands. Your study skills will continue to develop throughout your studies. Your study skills will improve with practice as you make progress towards your degree but making a conscious decision to develop these skills will accelerate the process and make you a more effective learner.  

Have you considered, for example, the following questions:

  • What are the techniques you use when revising for an exam?
  • Is your time management systematic and efficient, or do you often feel that you are not getting anything done?
  • How do your maintain your motivation?
  • How do you manage stress and relax?
  • Do you know how you learn best?


study skills


This image outlines the common study skills that students need, although the importance of each skill varies between fields of study. Generic study skills are divided into five categories: 

Study skills can also be viewed from a particular perspective. Also check out:


Learning skills​

Learning skills are skills that all students need to study effectively. Examples of learning skills are:

  • academic reading and writing skills ​
  • analytical and critical thinking​ skills
  • logical reasoning​
  • language skills​
  • information literacy skills​
  • learning strategies and techniques​
  • IT skills ​
  • social interaction and teamwork skills.​

Read more:


Time management​ skills

Studying and learning take time and effort. Time management is a process of organising and planning how to divide your time that ensures that you use your time doing things that you find meaningful and are committed to your choices and decisions. Examples of time management skills are:

  • making choices, prioritisation​
  • planning and scheduling​
  • getting started​
  • making progress​
  • monitoring and assessing your learning​
  • monitoring and assessing your working.​

Read more: Time management


Ability to maintain motivation​

Skilled learners continuously maintain and build their motivation. By building motivation, you make a conscious effort to increase your motivation to study and take responsibility for factors that affect your motivation. Examples of abilities that help you maintain your motivation are:

  • stimulating and maintaining interest​
  • self-efficacy​
  • identifying your values and making choices that reflect them ​
  • goal setting​
  • implementing an action plan, perseverance​
  • recognition of achievements.​

Read more: Study motivation


Ability to reflect on learning ​

Skilled learners reflect on their learning on a regular basis. It means that every once in a while, you step back to analyse and reflect on your study skills, learning and the factors that affect your learning. Examples of the abilities that help you reflect on your learning are:

  • beliefs about learning, knowledge, skills and abilities ​  
  • seeing learning as a process​
  • perception of yourself as a learner, self-awareness ​  
  • reflecting on your study habits ​
  • planning, managing and evaluating your learning ​
  • development of expertise ​

Read more:


Ability to maintain the capacity to learn​

Your study skills have a major impact on your academic progress and performance. Without sufficient study skills it doesn’t make sense to study. Your personal resources and capacity to learn lay the foundation for developing your study skills. For students, the concept of learning capacity means much the same as work capacity for employees. Examples of the abilities that help to maintain your capacity to learn are:

  • stress management​ skills
  • relaxation skills​
  • recovery​
  • nurturing your resources​
  • handling study-related thoughts and emotions​
  • managing your level of alertness, concentration skills​
  • managing your study environment​

Read more:

External websites with information about maintaining your capacity to learn:


Information and support


External websites with information about study skills

The University of Oulu’s study skills website

Read more about how to study on the WikiHow site

Engineering student Tommi Valkonen has written The Superstudent – an online book on effective studying and learning

Miniwebinars on learning and study skills (XAMK; the videos are in Finnish, but subtitles are available in English):

Published: 27.2.2019
Updated: 29.5.2024