How to study

Get some helpful study tips and tricks for your first year—managing your time and assessments, avoiding plagiarism, and figuring out who to ask for help.

The new study environment

At university, you'll be expected to spend a lot more time studying independently.

Get help early on

Part of independent learning means you may need to seek help at times. Do this early for best results.

  • Attend a study skills workshop during New Students’ Orientation.
  • During each trimester, our Student Learning team runs workshops and provides one-to-one tuition in essay writing, maths and statistics, learning strategies, study skills, and language skills.
  • StudyHub is an available anytime online resource for study and research skills.
  • Pasifika Student Success and Āwhina provide support and mentoring programmes to help Pasifika and Māori students achieve their study goals.
  • Ask your lecturers, tutors, and classmates.
  • Ask the librarians how to use the Library—they're there to help.
  • School and faculty offices can help you with general questions about your courses and academic programme.
  • If you have questions about your course or other academic matters, you can find help at your Faculty office.

Successful study habits

It’s easier to keep up, rather than catch up. Ask for help if you need it.

Get into a good routine

To make the most of your time at university, you need to figure out a good routine and find some places where you can concentrate.

Be prepared for class

Doing the required readings and being on time will help you get more out of your classes. You’ll understand better what's been said, take more helpful notes, and generally feel less overwhelmed.

Time management

For each hour of contact time (lectures, tutorials, labs, and studios), you should plan to do two extra hours of study, such as:

  • Reading and revising notes after lectures
  • Doing research in the Library or reading course materials
  • Working on assignments, laboratory reports, and studio projects.

An average week for a first-year student would involve 12 hours of contact time (lectures and tutorials) and 24 hours of independent study, for a total commitment of 36 hours. If your courses have studios or laboratory sessions, you might need to find up to 45 hours for your studies each week.

During exam periods and when you are completing assignments, you'll need to allow even more time.

Take a look at the time management resources on the Study Hub and create successful study habits of your own.


Assignments are a vital part of your studies—assessments are designed to help you learn and explore subjects more deeply.

Plan ahead for deadlines

Having an organised approach is important. If you look ahead, you may see that you have several assignments due at the same time. It’s a good idea to finish some of them early rather than trying to finish and submit them all at once.

For some courses you won't have an assignment due until the fifth or sixth week of the trimester. Keeping up with the lectures and course readings—and participating in tutorials—will make sure you're on track until you get feedback from your first assignment.

You’re responsible for getting your assignments and projects in on time. If you have any special circumstances, you should talk to your course coordinator.

Assignment types

You’ll be expected to complete different types of assignments during your studies:

  • Academic essays, especially for courses in Humanities and Social Sciences subjects
  • Assignments involving exercises related to the week's lectures, especially for Science and Engjneering subjects
  • Laboratory reports or field notes, especially for Science subjects
  • Literature reviews (summaries of what's been written about the topic already).

Reference sources correctly

It's also important to understand how to reference properly to acknowledge the sources you used in your assignment. It's essential to avoid plagiarism in your work.

If you’re not sure how to properly do your references, attend a workshop run by our Student Learning team.

Learn to think critically

Think critically about what you are studying. Facts and theory alone are not enough—you must be able to give opinions and put forward arguments about topics, and support them with material from your reading or research.

Critical thinking isn't just for your written work—you may be asked to comment in class so you need to have something thoughtful to contribute. University study is a great time to open your mind to new ideas and push yourself.

Say hello and ask questions

Most new students feel nervous and unsure for the first few weeks. Talk to the people sitting beside you in class and in tutorials. They may know the answer to your questions—and it's great to have somebody to borrow notes off if you miss a lecture. You might also want to set up a group to study together as it's a great way to learn.

If you're not sure about something, you're likely in good company and your fellow students will be grateful if you ask your lecturer, tutor, or lab demonstrator for clarification or guidance.

Many courses use Nuku, where you can post questions to other students and staff. If you want to ask your lecturer one-on-one, you can approach them at the end of the lecture or request a time to talk in their office.

Using the library

We have four libraries across our campuses and faculties. They provide a wide range of resources and facilities to support your study. Library staff are available to help you to get access to the information you need.

Speak to someone

Student learning

Phone: +64 4 463 5999