Psychologische Studierendenberatung Österreich

Learning effectively

Favourable studying conditions


Place of studying

  • It is advisable to always study in the same place i.e. room, desk etc.
  • On your desk, you should only have the material you currently need.
  •  It is important to leave the place/room for your breaks.

Time of studying

  • Everyone should determine the best time of day for studying.
  • Fixed times for studying are advisable. Each deviation from the schedule requires adaptation.


  •  Breaks are necessary and improve performance.
  •  The length of a break should be fixed in advance.
  •  What is done in the breaks should be as contrary as possible to the studying matter.
  •  Exciting activities which are hard to bring to an end (e.g. watching a movie, reading crime novels) should be avoided in short breaks.

Physical wellbeing

  •   You should have a healthy balanced diet.
  •   Exercise is recommended – also during breaks.
  •   Sufficient sleep in order to replenish energy is important.



Elaborating the schedule

  • General plan for the whole term
  • Planned lectures, tutorials and exams

Planning and handling of time and material for the next exam

  •   Assembling all necessary material
  •   Study trial: 3-5 days

    • For how many hours a day can you study?
    • How many pages on average do you manage in this time?

  •   Concrete planning

    • How long do you need to learn all of the material once?
    • How long do you need for a revision of this material?
    • How much time is necessary for revision of this material prior to the final exam?

  •   Time reserve

    • It is important to include some additional time in case of unforeseeable/unavoidable situations.

  •   Detailed planning

    • The weekly plan comprises the rough study plan for a week. From that, the daily plan can be derived. As some topics will be more difficult than others, it could be highly advisable to plan how many hours you want to study and not how many pages you want to learn. The daily study goal however, must be achievable.

Planning errors

If the daily goal cannot be achieved, the question must be asked as to where the error lies. If the daily study goal is unrealistic, a new plan will have to be compiled in which the planning error is taken into consideration.


Methods of learning

Whoever approaches the material in a goal-orientated, determined and confident way is off to a good start. An active involvement with the matter is important.
The PQ4R method is a good example of this and refers to the learning of a chapter in a text book. (Preview - Questions - Read - Reflect - Recite, Review)

Obtain an overview of a particular chapter and of what it covers (structure and headings).

What do the headings tell you?
What contents can be expected?
What is important?

Active reading and understanding

How can the information which has just been read be combined with already existing knowledge?

The matter read should be recited (without looking at the book either verbally or mentally). If there are gaps, the chapter should be re-read and then recited again.

The chapter or part of the chapter should be reflected again in your mind, the most important points emphasized, questions about these should be asked and answered.

Rules to counteract forgetting

CHECK! There are only a few generally valid rules, in the long run, everyone has to find the best study techniques for themselves.

  • Shortly after learning, the content is often partly forgotten. Therefore, just after this period, it is advisable to relearn the matter intensely.
  • The earlier the revision is done, the less times revision will be necessary in total.
  • Well-learned material can also be forgotten, but it can be relearned easily and quickly.
  • The more detailed the material is, the more revision is necessary.

Table of comparison

Obstacles to efficient learning

 Conductive to success

passive reading

 active learning: asking questions about the
material and elaborating the correct answers

getting lost in detail

differentiating between important and not important

skipping revisions

regular revisions of contents during the
period of learning

recognizing contents

unprompted reproduction

avoidance behaviour

resisting various distractions

haphazard learning without any plan and time structure

elaboration of and keeping to a learning schedule up to the date of the exam

mood-dependent learning

learning independently from moods