Advanced skills for study and research

How do I need to change

my approach to study as I progress?

How can I study

more effectively?

What are the expectations

of ‘research’?


This course focuses on the skills you need now at high school, but also goes further than this, looking at the way those skills need to evolve as you embark upon your university career.  We look initially at the skills needed in exams such as the IB or A Levels, and there is specific work on the IB extended essay.  But then that work leads on to the kind of approach to study needed at university level, with more independent study, longer assignments and a greater awareness of the expectations of academic life.


Study skills and learning styles

We begin with a look at some of the skills we all need to master in study and in work: time management, staying focused, being truly effective.  But then we consider how people differ in the ways they learn, and therefore how different people might study most effectively in different ways.


Assignments and assessment

What are the expectations when you’re given an assignment, and how can you ensure that you get the best results, whether you’re being assessed throughout your study or mainly in final exams?  We look at some good techniques, and how they change as you progress.

Aberdeen library

Lectures and seminars

As you proceed, so there is less and less spoonfeeding, much more emphasis on your deciding what is important and what you want to record.  Here we look at notetaking in lectures, or lecture-style classes, and also how you can benefit from active participation in seminars.


Good choices, effective planning

If you have to write a longer assignment, for example for the IB extended essay, how will you choose a topic that works for you?  You’ll face similar difficult choices when you get to university.  And then, once you’ve made your choice, you’ll have to structure your whole approach very carefully.


Strategies for effective reading

You will have to read a lot.  But how do you select what to read, and how can you use different types of text in different ways?  And then what will you do with what you read?  If you’ll be making notes, how will you organise them and use them later?


Research methods and sources

Research can be conducted in a variety of different ways, but in a serious academic context there are clear expectations as to how you should use the material you find.  Acknowledging sources is really important, and you must avoid the temptation to plagiarise!


A longer piece of writing

An extended essay, whether at school or at university, brings with it certain norms and expectations: it’s different from the type of essay you may have written earlier.  Once you have your plan and your material, you can put pen to paper and get a feel for the way it’s all going to develop.


Discussion, questioning and review

Fortunately, you won’t always be studying alone!  Discussion with your teachers and peers is important for practical, but also for psychological reasons.  Learn to offer, and to take, constructive criticism when you discuss your work with your fellow students in particular.  And then, if necessary, be prepared to make some changes.