Study Skills

See also: Key Employability Skills for Graduates.

What are Study Skills?

Study skills are the skills you need to enable you to study and learn efficiently – they are an important set of transferable life skills.

Our pages give generic study skills advice – appropriate to learners across all disciplines and in different life circumstances: full and part-time students, those returning to education later in life, those engaged in professional development and anybody who wants to learn how to learn effectively. 

Key points about study skills:

  • You will develop your own personal approach to study and learning, in a way that meets your own individual needs. As you develop your study skills, you will discover what works for you, and what doesn’t.
  • Study skills are not subject specific - they are generic and can be used when studying any area. You will, of course, need to understand the concepts, theories and ideas surrounding your specific subject area. To get the most out of your studies, however, you’ll want to develop your study skills.    
  • You need to practise and develop your study skills.  This will increase your awareness of how you study and you’ll become more confident.  Once mastered, study skills will be beneficial throughout your life.
  • Study skills are not just for students.  Study skills are transferable - you will take them with you beyond your education into new contexts. For example, organisational skills, time management, prioritising, learning how to analyse, problem solving, and the self-discipline that is required to remain motivated.  Study skills relate closely to the type of skills that employers look for.  (See Transferable Skills and Employability Skills for more.)

At SkillsYouNeed we provide quality content on many life skills – a lot of these are relevant to study.


You’ll find two types of study skills pages – pages that directly relate to skills you need for study (like How to Write an Essay) and pages that are more general life skills but which are also important to study (like Active Listening).


Our Study Skills Pages Include:

  • Getting Organised to Study

    Getting organised is an important first step to effective study.  Our page covers the basic organisation skills you need consider – fundamentals such as where and when to study and the importance of developing a network of contacts who can help you, when you need it.

  • Finding Time to Study

    This page covers some of the basic principles of time management – with reference to study.  If you manage your time badly then you will be less productive – which can lead to stress and anxiety.  This page can help covers the importance of a personal study timetable and how to set goals and prioritise your time.

  • Sources of Information for Study

    Learn what is meant by, and the importance of, primary, secondary and tertiary documents and how you may source such information in a library or online.

  • Styles of Writing

    By understanding different writing styles you can put what you read into perspective. This page covers the main writing styles that you are likely to come across, including:  academic, journal, and journalistic styles.


  • Effective Reading

    It is likely, when studying, that you will need to read a lot of information – develop your reading to make it as effective as possible.  Discover ways that you can engage with your reading, form links, understand opinions and put ideas and research into perspective.   In short, develop your reading skills.

  • Critical Reading and Reading Strategies

    This page explains what is meant by critical reading and critical thinking – skills which are fundamental to true learning, personal development and advancement.  The page also covers how to develop a personal reading strategy – use SQ3R to help you manage your reading.


  • Note-Taking

    Learning to take notes effectively is not only important to study but also in lots of other situations, at work and in your personal life.  Develop your note-taking skills with our pages: Note-Taking for Verbal Exchanges and Note-Taking for Reading.

  • Planning an Essay

    It pays to carefully think about and plan an essay or other piece of written work before you start writing.  This page provides you with a framework for planning which will help ensure your work is relevant, well-constructed and produced efficiently.

  • How to Write an Essay

    Learn about the processes involved in writing an essay, or other piece of assessed work.  Avoid common mistakes and follow best practice to help ensure that the work you produce is of a high quality.

  • Academic Referencing

    Learning how to reference correctly is vital if you are a student. This page not only covers why you should reference and what may happen if you don’t, but also includes some detailed guidelines on how to reference different types of materials.


  • What is Theory?

    As a learner you will be required to engage with theory, but exactly what is a theory?  A theory is an attempt to provide understanding - theories attempt to answer the question, 'why?' and therefore satisfy our curiosity.  Learn more about theories and how they are usually developed.

  • Assignment Finishing Touches

    Before you submit your assignment for school, university or work, run through a series of final checks.  Avoid potentially embarrassing or costly mistakes and increase the credibility of your work.

  • Reflecting On Marked Work

    This page, for students, encourages you to engage in the feedback you receive from a marker when your work is returned.  Don’t just look at the bottom line, the mark, but understand the comments and feedback and learn from any mistakes.


  • Revision Skills

    Revising for examinations can be a real challenge for many people. Learn and practice some key skills to make your revsion time as productive and effective as possible, leavinbg you better prepared for exams and tests.


  • Writing Skills

    The writing skills section of SkillsYouNeed includes many other pages, which we hope you’ll find useful.  Our pages: Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation for example can help with assignment writing.  You may also find information our pages: Gender Neutral Writing and Clichés to Avoid useful.


  • Interpersonal Skills

    Interpersonal skills are the skills we use every day to interact with others, many are relevant to effective study.  For example see:  Listening Skills, Problem Solving and Decision Making. Questioning and Types of Questions, Verbal Communication and Effective Speaking.


  • Personal Skills

    Our Personal Skills section covers areas of personal development.  Useful pages include:  Building Confidence and Self-Esteem, Tips for Dealing with Stress, Relaxation Techniques, and Self-Motivation.

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