Organising your learning

'Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.'


University life may appear to be more unstructured in comparison to school or work. There may seem to be lots of 'free time' between classes and seminars. However, university students are expected to spend more time in independent study and to devote an average of 10 hours per week to each unit. You may need even more time if you are new to university study and new to Australia.

Managing your time and getting organised is vital to your success.  This resource will provide a general overview of how you can get organised for your studies. After working through this resource you can also access the information about becoming an independent learner in UniStart.

Personal planner

  • How many units are you studying?
  • Are you working as well as studying?
  • How are you going to plan your time to cope with study and the other priorities in your life?

Using a personal planner is one way of getting organised. There are different types of planners, both paper based and electronic, that you can use to:

  • create daily, weekly and trimester planners
  • block out your classes, seminars, work and social time
  • colour code the activities in your week, so you can really see where your time goes!

When you are planning each week, remember to factor in research time. Start with non-negotiable commitments like classes and assessment due dates, then add the negotiable – but be careful what you consider to be negotiable!

One way to plan your time is to use an online calendar. This short video demonstrates how to use the calendar from your Deakin email.

Your browser has failed to load this video. Please click here to view it in DeakinAir.

You can also:

Read your unit guide

All units have a unit guide. The unit guide is an important document and required reading. Some units also have a study guide that steps you through the content for each topic. 
Note - the study guide is different from the unit guide so you will need to access both.

The unit guide is a key document and contains:

  • unit aims
  • learning outcomes (what students should know/be able to do on completion of the unit)
  • name of unit chair and staff contact details
  • weekly topics - a "roadmap" of classes and seminars
  • materials for the unit (some unit guides only)
  • assessment details (how many marks each assignment is worth, due dates etc.)
  • information on referencing.

Understand the learning outcomes

Your assessments are linked to your unit learning outcomes. Spend time reading and familiarising yourself with the learning outcomes for each of your units.

  • The unit learning outcomes = the specifics of what you are learning.
  • All unit learning outcomes are assessed.
  • Learning outcomes are observable, measurable, achievable and important!

Review your material daily

We remember about 60%–80% of new material if it is reviewed within 24 hours, but we remember only about 20% if we don't review it within this time. So try to review new material on the same day you learn it.

Use recognition and recall strategies

  • Use both recognition and recall strategies for checking how well you understand and remember your material.
  • Recognition – review material that is set out in notes, textbooks and other sources.
  • Recall – start with a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen and note down what you know and can remember about a topic.
  • Recall is more difficult than recognition. Note that for most exams students need to be able to recall material.

Talk about it

Talking over your course content helps you to clarify your thoughts. It also makes it easier to identify when you are not quite sure about something. The best way to learn a subject is to teach it!

Develop reading strategies

Read strategically

  • For assignments – begin with the reading list for that topic (if provided) and then move onto your own research.
  • For exams – focus on lecture notes and the study guide (if there is one) as well as textbooks.

Read selectively

  • Assess an article before reading it. For example, consider the article's scope, author, date, chapters and index.
  • Read with a purpose and ignore the sections that are not helpful. Use structure (introduction, conclusion, dot points, headings and subheadings) to help you identify what's important. Scan for specific information using keywords.
  • Learn more about effective reading strategies.

Prepare for classes and seminars

  • Pre-read your class notes, textbooks and weekly topics in the unit guides.
  • Revise after each lecture and start preparing for assessments and exams. Do this from Week 1.
  • Come to seminars prepared with your own questions on class topics and readings.
  • Relate class topics to assignments and exams.

What else can I do?

Deakin software library

The Deakin Software Library  provides you with access to software useful for studying at Deakin.


Unistart is a self-access online resource available in CloudDeakin to help you: 

  • learn how to learn online in CloudDeakin
  • find out about IT at Deakin
  • prepare yourself for university study
  • prepare yourself to get your dream job.

You can access these resources during your entire degree at Deakin.

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