Which skills are important at university?

There are many skills that you will develop at university, that will help you get through your degree.

The following are some of the most useful skills to gain at university:
  • Time management skills
  • Social skills
  • Study skills

In addition:
  • Reading and writing in English
  • Essay/report writing
  • Listening skills
  • Note-taking
  • Presentation skills
  • Working in groups
  • Doing research
  • Applying successful exam techniques

What is critical thinking and why is it important?

Critical thinking is a combination of skills.

It allows you to:

  • Think clearly
  • Look at all angles
  • Be reflective
  • Find/create logical connections of ideas
  • Analyse
  • Synthesise

“Critical thinking is self-guided, self-discipline thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way” (Unknown author, n.d.).

Unknown author. N.d. Defining critical thinking. (Accessed August 2015).  

Which study skills do I need to develop in order to be successful?

  • It is important to develop study skills at university, as they will assist you in learning and studying efficiently.
  • Study skills are strategies that you can master to be successful at university.
Three undergraduate students were asked which study skills a student should have in order to be successful.

These are their replies:
  • Ngcebo Mlangi, a 2nd year Psychology student, advises that students should listen for hints for test and exams during their lectures. He also suggests working through past exam papers.
  • Itumeleng Mokoena, a 1st year Philosophy, Politics & Economics student, advises students to have time management and organisational skills. He also suggests that students take notes during lectures and learn to paraphrase and summarise.
  • Lindani Dube, a 1st year Social Work student, advises that students should create a schedule of what they have to do and set timeframes to work through their schedules. He advises students not to rush through their work and prepare in advance.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer adipiscing erat eget risus sollicitudin pellentesque et non erat. Maecenas nibh dolor, malesuada et bibendum a, sagittis accumsan ipsum. Pellentesque ultrices ultrices sapien, nec tincidunt nunc posuere ut. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam scelerisque tristique dolor vitae tincidunt. Aenean quis massa uada mi elementum elementum. Nec sapien convallis vulputate rhoncus vel dui.

How do I prepare for my tests and exams?

  • Get organised. When you have everything in order, you will be able to study more efficiently.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to study.
  • Please DO NOT leave studying for tests and exams to the last minute.
  • Create a study space. When you use a specific place only for studying, you will keep your focus.

  • Create mind maps and diagrams with a lot of colour. It works well and helps you remember your work better.
  • Please DO NOT study parrot style.
  • When you understand your course work, you will remember it too.
  • Organise study groups. You can help each other with the difficult parts of the content. You will also get a chance to explain your work to the rest of the group.

  • Take frequent breaks. For every hour, take a five-minute break. Use this time to stretch, get some fresh air and reflect on what you have just studied.
  • Exercise and eat healthy foods. This has an impact on your energy levels and keeps you focused for longer.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking a lot of water. Stay away from fizzy drinks and alcohol.
  • Be prepared for your tests and exams. Pack everything you need for these the night before. Leaving this for the last minute may increase your stress levels.
  • Remember!!! Take easy breaths. Do not pull all-nighters. Get enough sleep. This will help you stay focused during your exam.

I’ve never used a computer or tablet before, where can I get help with this?

  • The Centre for Academic Technologies (CAT) at   D Ring 3 provides a service for this.
  • CAT offers basic computer, Blackboard and tablet training to all students.
  • These training sessions are held at the beginning of the academic year.
  • In addition, CAT offers online Microsoft Office training modules, available on uLink.

How do I reference my work properly?

  • Each faculty has their own referencing styles.
  • You will need to conform your referencing techniques to your department’s requirements.
  • Reference guidelines can be found in your study guide.
These are examples of referencing styles: