8 top tips for studying at home

Studying from home

Here are some tips to help you feel as comfortable and confident as possible to make the most of your time

  • 23 March 2020
  • 5 min read
Depending on your course, you might be used to studying at home already. But for many others this is a new experience, and may feel strange and confusing. You might be wondering what you can study from home or how you can study for your degree while in quarantine. As you’re likely to experience more ways to study your course from home over the next few weeks, here are some tips for at-home study to help you feel as comfortable and confident as possible to make the most of your time. 
Student working on a laptop

1. Clear your workspace

Your bed might be super comfortable, but it’s probably not the best area for you to study from. Instead of setting up your laptop on your lap and lying down, use a desk or table.

Make sure your chair is set at the right height for you to comfortably type or make notes, and keep any distractions to a minimum. That latest Netflix show you’re into may be bingeworthy, but it’s not great for studying! 

Having a dedicated study area will also help your brain understand the difference between your study time and relaxation time. Consider changing your location regularly if you can - move from your desk to a kitchen table, or even your garden if you have one. This will help you stay focused and keep you from being bored of your surroundings. 

2. Check with your lecturer about their plans

Staff across the University are delivering lectures, seminars, labs, and tutorials remotely from Monday 23 March. Check in with your lecturer and see how they’re planning to communicate with you and the class, and make sure you take an active role in the sessions. 

Taking part in an audio or video lecture in your pyjamas may sound nice, but getting dressed as you normally would will make sure you're psychologically ready to get the most out of the session. 

Follow these 5 top tips for webinar etiquette: 

  1. Make sure you’re on time. You might not disrupt the presentation by logging in late, but you could miss important information.
  2. Turn off your webcam and mute your microphone during the presentation, unless you’re speaking. You may appear on other people’s screens without you realising.
  3. Wait your turn - you may need to rely on hand-raising icons or post questions in chats.
  4. Ask questions concisely to save time, and only post comments if you think they’ll be helpful to others.
  5. Don't use the chat room for socialising. This can be very distracting to others. 
Female student writing revision notes

3. Do active revision

Everyone has their own ways of studying, but it's worth taking an active role in how you’ll go about it. So if you’re reading or revising, don’t just dive into a chapter. Ask yourself some questions before, during and after your study time, such as:

  • What am I about to learn?
  • What do I already know about this subject?
  • Can I paraphrase what I just learned?
  • What are the key words or concepts I should note down?
  • What do I need to review next time?

Doing this means you get the most out of your study session.

4. Structure your study

Structure is important! Plan out your study so you can get the most out of the session - making a schedule could help here. For example, you could break up your time by setting yourself 15 minutes of reading, then 15 minutes of note-taking.

Add some structure to your day in general, too. Think about:

  • What time is any remote teaching activity going to take place?
  • Is there any preparation work you need to do beforehand?
  • Plan out a schedule for your day or week. 
  • Take regular breaks to give your eyes a rest. Get up and stretch so you’re not stuck in one position. 
  • Remember to eat healthily, and stay hydrated
  • Switch up your schedule. If you find you work better in the evening than the morning, plan your study time for then instead

The Pomodoro Technique is great for time management. Set a timer, then work intensely for 25 minutes, before giving yourself a 5 minute break to do whatever you want - watch a video, check in on social media or get up for a snack. 

Student revising on laptop in the library

5. Make sure you can access your resources

You’ll use a wide range of resources, and the exact type might differ depending on what you’re studying or what activity you are undertaking. 

If you use specialist software for your course, you should be able to install what you need through the University’s Apps Anywhere service. Ensure anything you need is installed now, so you don’t take up your valuable study time. 

Make sure you have back ups in case your internet goes down - you don’t want to rely on cloud saving only. If you haven’t got access to the particular book you need, see if there are similar resources online that you can download. 

You might take part in remote teaching using methods like Google Hangouts Meet or Webex - check with your lecturer or tutor how they’ll deliver this. Make sure you know how to use the service, and run a test before your session. You don’t want to be working out how to get it working once the session has started. 

6. Get support from the Library

Staff will continue to provide support for you while you’re studying at home. You can use virtual enquiry channels, like online chat and email

Our staff are experts in finding, accessing and referencing information, and they’ll be happy to help you find what you need. 


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7. Don’t neglect your social life

The social aspects of uni life are important, even if you’re self isolating. You can share notes or study online as a group, using video chat software like Google Hangouts. But why not use these socially too? Host an online cooking party and cook together on video chat, or keep each other motivated by doing an online exercise video together. There are lots of other social tools like Moodle, Slack, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and many others to help each other and create a support network. 

8. Help is available

This is an unprecedented situation for all of us, so it’s really important for you to take care of your wellbeing too. Your personal tutor will be in touch with you from this week (week commencing 23 March) to check in with you. Please do let them know if you have any concerns about your academic or personal support.

  • Use our Student Wellbeing service - as with most of our staff, they’ll be able to support you remotely via Skype, email and phone. Please email wellbeing-admin@port.ac.uk to make arrangements. Student Minds - the mental health charity - also has resources available. 
  • Make sure your days have a routine and don’t blend in to each other. Planning your day into smaller chunks can help you retain a sense of normality. 
  • Stay in touch with your friends and family, even if you have to do this remotely. Why not plan a video call around your meal times, so you can still chat over a bite to eat? Even a simple phone call to chat is better than a text. 
  • Check out mindfulness and meditation techniques - apps like Headspace can help you stay grounded
  • If you have a question about coronavirus please visit our FAQs in the first place as the answer may be there. If not, contact our Coronavirus Information Line - +44 (0)23 9284 5588 and infoline@port.ac.uk - which is open Monday-Friday 9.00am-5.00pm and Saturday-Sunday 10.00am-4.00pm. Out of hours messages will be responded to as soon as possible.
  • IT help - if you need IT support please continue to use our Information Services Portal.