Steps to self-directed study success!

As a student, you very quickly become aware of the level of effort you need to put in to meet the minimum requirements for passing your course, but is that enough?

Sadly, not. 

Faster than you could possibly imagine, your studies will be over, and you’ll be competing with hundreds of thousands of other graduates for post-graduate placements, schemes and jobs.  

This means you need to be at the top of your game, or you might find these roles will pass you by.  

Have we just sent you into a little existential crisis?

If so, we do apologise, but with our apology, we’re armed with one of the simplest tips to help you reach for those higher grades and give you more confidence in your own abilities. 

Are you ready?

One of the best things you can do as a student is self-directed study. 

Self-directed study means using your own initiative and doing wider reading.  

No, that’s not turning your iPad on its side and reading in landscape, it’s taking the ideas discussed in your lectures and exploring them independently. That means research, taking notes and understanding your weaknesses so you know where you need to improve. 

Remember, as a university student you may have one lecture per week, per module with up to a few hundred other students at a time. Your lecturer can sow the seeds of your education and spark an interest, but they may not have the time to delve into topics and explore them fully, which gives you the perfect opportunity to do it yourself! 

Essay and exam time is always busy, but there is always time outside of lectures to conduct some self-directed study with tangible benefits, including: 

Helping you prepare better for seminars

You’re often asked to read a chapter ahead of a seminar, but what if you read beyond that? What if you went as far as to back up what you had read with a case study or could reference a theory found in another text? 

This will provide you with both the knowledge and notes to prove an excellent point in an essay or assessment that will form part of your marks for the module. Your lecturer would also be really impressed!  

Building a good rapport with your lecturer is not something that is spoken about enough, but it is something you should do. You have a lot to learn from your lecturers and if you have a good relationship they’re often more responsive and likely to keep in touch after university, meaning you can show them how far you’ve gone! 

Improved problem-solving skills 

You may not find the answer you’re looking for on your first attempt, so you can try again, altering your search term or try searching in different places until you find exactly what it is that you’re looking for.  

Self-directed study forces you to do some of the thinking yourself to find the answers and this is a well sought-after skill in the modern workplace, which will make you a stand-out candidate if you can prove your ability to solve a problem. 

Broader knowledge 

By conducting self-directed study, you’re exposing yourself to a wealth of knowledge that could potentially help you become an expert in your field. Knowing more about a topic will also help articulate your ideas better which in turn will boost your essay grades.  


Beginning your self-directed study journey is easy.

Here are a few simple steps to help you get started: 

  1. Consider your weaknesses – what don’t you understand fully, what could you do with learning more about? 
  2. Create a list of topics you want to expand upon before beginning your study sessions so that you have a clear focus…this is the ‘directed’ part of self-directed study. 
  3. Be open to using different tools to help you gain knowledge. You may want to try using the physical books and journals in the library or access all of the books available to you on the Kortext platform so it’s easier to search for what you need. 
  4. Take notes! With Kortext, you can highlight and make notes within the books – without defacing library property! Making notes helps to make information stick. 
  5. Collaborate! Create a little study group and have everyone research the same topic for different reasons and share notes on this. It’ll give you some great ideas and accountability. 
  6. Structure. If you’re new to self-guided study, it’s not recommended you sit for 10 hours in one seated position for studying. Start off with structured, manageable study blocks and work your way up, ticking off more topics as you go. 
  7. Rewards. We all need a bit of motivation every now and then. To keep yourself on track, set yourself a goal and make sure there’s a nice reward at the end of it – whether it’s going to the pub, a tasty snack or just an hour of downtime. 

In the hybrid learning environment we’re currently in, the ability to conduct self-directed study is more important than ever. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it and will help you develop a brilliant work ethic. It’s undeniable that the better you are at self-directed study, the greater your results will be.  

As Dr Seuss said:  

The more you read, the more you’ll know, the more you know, the further you’ll go.

What are you waiting for?

Log in to Kortext now to start 


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