Developing study skills: My advice as a student with learning difficulties

Throughout university, something I have done which helped me become more engaged with my studies has been going to tutoring sessions offered by the student support services in my university. As a student with a few learning difficulties, I have regular meetings with a study skills tutor. In these meetings, I can discuss any issues or concerns that I have with my assignments as well as receive feedback regarding grammar and spelling. Another focal point of these sessions is to get organised for the semester. In order to do this, my tutor and I would arrange our first session before the start of each semester. This way, I could get a head start on assignment plans so that I can be fully prepared when lectures begin. During the pandemic, I attended these sessions online rather than in-person, and in my experience the change in setting did not affect the quality of the sessions.

Another thing I would recommend to other students is to make use of any assessment or academic skills support service. For example, in my university there are academic development sessions which help students with essay structure, proofreading and other academic elements. These sessions certainly help when a deadline is closing in and you need extra guidance. I have often used this service if I felt that my assignment’s structure could be improved or to see if my essay answered the question properly.

Impact on me

Attending these two types of support sessions have helped me get a better understanding of what my assignments were asking of me and also focus on my work. I find that getting into the right headspace is very important when it comes to deadlines and exams, even more so when it is the beginning of a new year and it is particularly hard to get back into the world of academia. 

As someone with several learning difficulties, organisation is key when it comes to my studies. The ability to arrange my thought process, ideas and objectives when working on an assignment is not something that comes easily to me, so creating a strong essay plan during the meetings really helped with that. Doing this has also helped me to think through my assignments carefully, which has in turn helped me better understand the marking criteria of my essays. Additionally, it improved my confidence in terms of my academic abilities.

Advice for other students

If you have or think you may have a learning difficulty, do not hesitate to talk to the wellbeing support services at your university. If you are diagnosed and registered with the university, you can receive lots of help which can ultimately improve your university experience as well as helping you achieve your full potential. Equally, even if you don’t have a learning difficulty, it is important to ask for help when you need it. I think that a lot of students sometimes forget that they can drop an email, arrange a meeting or talk to someone who can help them with assignments or personal problems.