Be prepared: Getting the best out of Study Solutions!

" Day133: Flickr keeps you studying!" By Abdulrahman AlZe3bi. CC BY-NC 2.0

” Day133: Flickr keeps you studying!” By Abdulrahman AlZe3bi. CC BY-NC 2.0

At the Library, there really is no such thing as a stupid question. Did you know that the most common question we get asked is, “Where are the bathrooms?” Helping you to find the bathroom is just one of the many ways we can help in the Library.

Many students get stuck with pesky research, writing and referencing questions over the course of the semester. At every branch Library, you can have your researching and referencing questions answered straight away at the Library Helpdesk. Our staff are trained to help you get started and point you in the right direction to get your assignments started.

If you have a longer or more complicated question, the Library can provide support for your studies through a Study Solutions appointment. By booking a Study Solutions appointment, you can get a 25 minute face to face appointment for help with your study, research and assignments. From understanding your assignment question, providing feedback on a draft, to working in groups, or organising your work/study load, we are here to help.

You can book a 25 minute consultation from Week 3. Bookings open a week in advance and fill up quickly – so be prepared and book early.

If you miss out on an appointment, never fear! Drop-in sessions are available at both Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove libraries from 12pm-2pm, Tuesday to Thursday. The time of your consultation will depend on how many students are waiting – so be prepared and have your burning question ready and waiting to maximise your time.

So! You’ve booked a consultation or you’re planning on coming to a drop-in session…. what can you do to prepare yourself to get the best out of your Study Solutions session?

1. Be on time! Make sure to note the date, time, and location of your consultation. Write it in your phone, diary, or the back of your hand. Remember you can keep track of your bookings online.

2. Come to your consultation with something specific to work on. Whether it be your assignment question, your draft, a particular study issue you’ve been having, or a question about a resource – this helps us to tailor the support specifically to your needs. Please remember that library staff cannot proofread assignments for you, we can give you tips and strategies so you can proofread yourself (hint: read your assignment out loud to the mirror!).

3. Check our online study resources and see if your question is answered there. If you familiar yourself with resources such as Cite Write, Studywell, and Studysmart, you’ll be well on your way to being a top student on your own!

4. If you’re looking for specific academic language and learning support you can get in touch with Academic Language and Learning Services (ALLS) to arrange an appointment. Language and Learning Educators are specially trained to help students and staff who need help with speaking and writing.


Why you’ve already forgotten how this sentence began

"Memory write/read failure" by  Marek Isalski (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Memory write/read failure” by Marek Isalski
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

It is easy to under-appreciate how much you read on a screen each day – hey, look you’re doing it right now – and this ease and availability of content is one great benefit of the Internet. But, it seems  most technological advancements have a flip side and what researchers from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, have found definitely affects you as students or researchers!

As the average student is faced with weekly readings reaching double digits each week, it stands to reason that you’re attempting to read many of these on screen wherever possible. However, in their paper ‘Is Google making us stupid? The Impact of the Internet on Reading Behaviour’  authors Val Hooper and Channa Herath reveal that unfortunately, online reading appears to have negative effects on our cognition. Concentration, comprehension, recall and absorption rates all scored lower when reading online compared to paper-based reading. It appears that this offline/paper-based reading allows for ‘deep reading’ and the ability to annotate papers further assisted in information absorption and retention in both the short and long term.

All these benefits, of course, have to weighed up against the dollar cost of printing out every item you have to read and the environmental impact of doing so as well. But being aware from the outset that reading online may be putting you behind-the-eightball then you can employ some strategies to help get the most out of your readings on the screen and to counter this possible screen-nesia.  QUT Library’s Studywell has some strategies and resources for effective reading and notetaking.

There is an element of irony in this post being published in an online medium so do your best and try to remember what you’ve learned here today – may I suggest taking some notes by hand to assist in you in your retention?

Time to dust off the humble pen and paper – taking notes by hand is better for your memory!

Sometimes going analogue is the only way to go by Tobias Vemmenby (CC BY 2.0)

Sometimes going analogue is the only way to go by Tobias Vemmenby (CC BY 2.0)

Research recently published in Psychological Science * has found that students who took notes by hand,  as opposed to a laptop, performed better when asked questions about the factual content and concepts they had been taught.

Students watched a TED talk in a lecture environment and then took notes the way they normally would – some on a laptop and others with a paper and pen. Those using a laptop wrote more but when quizzed 30 minutes later they had understood less than those who took notes by hand. Those taking notes by hand also out-performed the others in both factual recall and concept understanding a full week later when quizzed on the topic again!

So taking notes by hand appears to encourage both more concise note-taking and encourage conceptual processing of the information at the time to assist you to understand and recall the information – in both the short and long-term.

With exams coming up, now might be the time to make a switch and try some old-fashioned pencraft.

* QUT students and staff can access the full text here:  Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science, 25, 1159-1168. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581

A PDF app that speaks back

person wearing headphones

365: Day 216... by Ali Anne (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Reading and taking notes is an essential part of student life and PDF is a popular format for core readings in QUT units.

There are a number of programs that allow students to highlight, add sticky notes, add images or comments to improve comprehension and critical analysis of PDF content on their iOS device (e.g. Notability or Endnote).

ClaroPDF is unique by having note-taking features plus high quality reading voices so that students can listen to their readings as well as writing notes.

Students are lucky that ClaroPDF is currently FREE on the Apple app store in support of Dyslexia Awareness Week.

ClaroPDF Overview Video

ClaroPDF icon

Download ClaroPDF

Reading for exams

Exam preparation

Copyright QUT Library CC-BY

The end of the semester is approaching and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by your looming exams. Remember this mantra: “It is never too late for a good decision”. Most students get to this stage in the semester and they are behind in some (if not most) their reading. It is easy to fall behind when you are focussed on getting assignments submitted and keeping up date with lectures. Try not to give yourself a hard time for the work you haven’t done, but to think rationally about what reading you can achieve between now and the exam.

10 steps to get the best exam result possible from where you are now:

  1.  Set a time table for the exam preparation week (28th October to 1st November). Here is a guide: allot 13hrs per subject (1 hr x 13 weeks).
  2. Decide the best use of your time based on the sort of exam you have. E.g. if you have a multiple choice exam, only read what you need to write and answer your own multiple choice questions.
  3. Learn how to skim read. Now is not the time to read everything. Now is the time to read strategically to pass.
  4. Divide each hour of study time into two 25 minute segments.
  5. Decide on a manageable task for each segment beforehand, e.g.,

    Segment 1: Skim-read the PowerPoint slides for Week 3 lecture and write 1-2 pages of notes on what you are confident will be on the exam.

    Segment 2: Skim-read the key reading for Week 3 and write 1-2 pages of notes on what you are confident will be on the exam.

  6. Put the timer on when you read and make notes. Do not get distracted for those 25 minutes.
  7. Get up and move around when you take a break. Stretch. Get a cuppa. Pat the cat. Do some yoga
  8. By the end of the exam preparation week you should have 20-40 pages of notes for each subject. Use these new notes to guide your study until the exam.
  9. Focus your energies on the areas you are most unsure about.
  10. On the day of the exam, write out a single page of notes on the things you absolutely must not forget and memorize these.

Remember: You have a limited amount of time and energy. Use both strategically and let go of perfectionist standards as much as you can.

Like this? Check out these other QUT Library Blog posts on exams

Quick TipsExam ChecklistThe A, B, C, D of Multiple Choice, Exam Study Planner


Stress-free assignment planning with Assignment Calculator!

Writing a great assignment takes planning, but we often don’t know how what the stages are, or how long to spend on each one. That’s where the Assignment Calculator can help.

Simply enter in the due date, and the Assignment Calculator will calculate how much time you have to complete the assignment, and divide each step into manageable chunks. You’ll have a deadline for each stage, to stop you from getting bogged down in one step and run out of time for another. You’ll also find handy tips for completing each stage, and links to great resources on Studywell and CiteWrite.

So the next time you have an assignment to do, let the Assignment Calculator do the planning for you, leaving you free to focus on the task itself!

Writing Great Assignments

The secret to writing great assignments is all about how you begin and end the process. Take the time to plan and edit to make your writing clear, logical, relevant and … great!


  • Plan your time carefully so that you will have time to edit before the due date. Aim to write at least one draft. This will remove the pressure to write perfectly and you’ll build momentum.
  • Know what type of assignment you’re writing. Reports, essays, critiques, annotated bibliographies, etc. have different structures, tones and styles. Know the difference before you begin.


  • Break the assignment into chunks and divide the word count by the number of paragraphs you plan to write. Start writing whichever paragraph you like: there is no need to write the introduction first!
  • Check regularly to ensure that your writing responds to the task sheet, the marking criteria and any other resources available on Blackboard.
  • Take short breaks every hour and reward yourself when you reach the end of each section.


  1. Am I answering the assignment question?
  2. Do I use clear examples and good evidence to support my ideas?
  3. Is my assignment organised and carefully structured so a reader can follow my logic?
  4. Am I referencing correctly and consistently?
  5. Is my writing formal and free of errors? Am I using the scholarly language of my discipline: the technical terms, words and theories that are used by my lecturers and are relevant to my subject area?

For any help with writing assignments, come and see us at Study Solutions!

Starting your assignments

It’s week 4.

Lectures and tutorials are happening.  You’re taking notes and doing your readings.  Things are rolling along.  Great!

By now you will have started thinking about your assignments. For many units, assignment due dates will start around week 6 of the semester.  That’s only two weeks away.

Things you could do to get started:

Not sure about your assignment task?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Talk to your tutor or lecturer about what is required.
  • Ask someone at the Library Learning and Research desk to show you our online learning resources and help you find information.
  • Book a Study Solutions appointment for a 25 minute one-on-one appointment to talk about your assignment and how to do it.
  • Check out your faculty’s peer assistance program to talk to another student about your study.

Don’t put it off – time can slip away quickly.  For best results with less stress, start early and work consistently. Good luck!

Quick tips – revising for exams

  1. Create mind maps of the whole subject and each topic.  Memory works better if the information is in a context
  2. Draw diagrams.  Use colour and symbols.  Visual memory is the strongest for most people.
  3. Reduce whole topics down to key facts, definitions, forumulas on one A4 sheet.    It helps you work out what is important and what is detail.
  4. Use flash cards or post-it notes and revise often.  A key to memory is repetition.
  5. Don’t just read your notes.  Write them out and say them out loud.  It’s called multiple sensory input where your brain does not just get visual input but auditory and kinaesthetic input as well.
  6. Write your own exam questions and then answer them.  Information framed as a question means your brain immediately thinks about the answer.  Ask questions of the same type as the exam.
  7. For essay exams write an introductory paragraph for each topic that you can adapt in the exam.  Include key facts/ theories/ideas/arguments.
  8. Use memory aids – acronyms, acrostics, peg-words.  Information is remembered better if linked to something:
  • Acronyms – words created from first letters of a string of terms, e.g. ROYGBIV are the seven colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet
  • Acrostics – sentences where the first letter of each word in the sentence is the same as the words you are trying to remember, e.g. “My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nachos” have the same first letters as the planets of the Solar System: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
  • Peg Words – this technique combines a word that rhymes with a number and a word or picture related to the term to be remembered.  It’s useful if you have to remember terms in order or precise numbers, e.g. words related to numbers could be 1-gun, 2-shoe, 3-tree, 4-door, 5-hive, 6-bricks, 7-heaven, 8-plate, 9-wine, 10-hen

For more exam revision tips, check out Studywell