As athletes train relentlessly before a championship game, students must also equip themselves with effective study strategies to achieve academic success. Inspired by our current sports-related exhibition, Grit & Gold: Tales from a Sporting Nation, we’ve compiled a list of study tips with a sporting twist to help you in the educational arena. Now let’s kick some goals!

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Young men of the Fijian Drua rugby union team wearing green and blue uniforms walking or jogging on rugby field near goal post
Claire Williams, Fijian Drua rugby union team warming up before the Fijian Drua vs ACT Brumbies Super Rugby Pacific match, GIO Stadium Canberra, Bruce, Australian Capital Territory, 26 February 2022, nla.obj-3042304111

Define your game plan

Just like a coach devising a game plan, students need to define clear study goals. What do you want to achieve in your study session? Your goal might be to master a specific concept, prepare for an exam, or enhance your overall understanding. By setting goals, you create a roadmap that guides your study sessions and keeps you focused. 

Warm up your mind

Before doing physical exercise, you should warm up your body and the mind is no different. Start your study session by warming up your mind. An effective warm-up can be a review of your earlier study material to refresh your understanding. This warm-up routine primes your brain, activating prior knowledge and setting the stage for effective learning.

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Man in wheelchair participating in game of boccia, with his hand outstretched and the ball in midair. Two women in wheelchairs sit behind him
Louise Whelan, Competitor in the National Boccia Titles, Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen, New South Wales, 4-7 May 2009, nla.obj-137975947 

Throw yourself a curveball

Over time we forget the things we learn. The most effective way to remember new knowledge and tackle the notorious forgetting curve is to practice active recall.

Try quizzing yourself. Transform your notes into questions that cover the key concepts, definitions, and vital facts. Then, practice answering them without referring to your materials. This process actively challenges your memory and helps you retrieve information from your mind. Flashcards can be a useful tool for this. 

By studying a topic over the course of multiple study sessions (a technique called space repetition), we can also interrupt the forgetting curve and build up muscle memory for the topic.

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Title reading 'Ebbinghaus's Forgetting Curve' above simple graph. Y-Axis depicts memory while x-axis depicts time, and a bold arrow going from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. A dotted line goes straight up from the mid-point of the arrow, with text reading 'revision', and another arrow going from the top to the bottom connected to it
Ebbinghaus's Forgetting Curve, which shows how memory declines over time

Dive into primary sources

Just as historians analyse primary documents to uncover truths, students should dive into primary sources for a deeper understanding of their subjects. Seek out original texts, primary research articles, and firsthand accounts. By immersing yourself in primary sources, you gain a richer and more nuanced perspective, enabling you to connect the dots and make meaningful connections. 

We offer a wealth of educational resources to enrich your study experience. From home or from the National Library building, explore: 

Join your National Library and learn how to get started.

Train with a buddy

Explaining concepts to others is an excellent way to test your understanding and engage in active recall. Try teaching the topic to a friend, study buddy or family member. By verbalising the information and conveying it in your own words, you reinforce your memory and solidify your grasp of the subject matter. 

Working alongside a study buddy or team can also be a terrific way to keep you motivated, exchange ideas and foster a supportive learning community. Our bookable meeting rooms or our affectionately dubbed “Study Hall” on LG1 are great places to go for a team training session.

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Boys lined up in rows on a field practicing their golf swing, with a teacher standing at the front
Jim Fitzpatrick/Australian Information Service, One hundred and eighty boys at a junior golf coaching camp near Sydney, 1978, nla.obj-137925388 

Play both offense and defense

Studying effectively requires a balance between offense and defense. On the offensive side, actively seek new knowledge, explore different study methods, and experiment with various learning techniques.  

On the defensive side, critically evaluate information, verify sources, and distinguish between reliable and unreliable content. By adopting this dual approach, you'll optimise your study efforts and develop a well-rounded understanding of your subject. 

Document your study journey

To track your progress and reinforce your learning, keep a record of your study journey. Take comprehensive notes, summarize key concepts, and create study guides that consolidate your knowledge. Organize your materials using effective note-taking strategies, ensuring that you have a valuable resource to refer back to when needed. 

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Woman participating in a marathon, with supporters of all ages standing along the road, including a woman holding a small dog
Susanne Olsen, Australian women's marathon runner Anzac Bridge, Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Balmain, 24 September 2000, nla.obj-146233215 

Get active

Be inspired by the incredible focus and dedication of your favourite athlete and find a way to get physically active. Physical exercise can improve your concentration, which is key to absorbing new knowledge. If you’re studying in our reading room and find yourself losing focus, ask our librarians to pop your collection loans on hold and try taking a walk along the shoreline of Lake Burley Griffin or wander through our exhibition galleries. 

Preparing for successful study sessions requires dedication, effective strategies, and a thirst for knowledge. We want to empower you to excel in your educational journey and support you to unlock your full potential as a student. Our collections, resources and friendly staff will help you on your way to greatness. So, step confidently into the study arena, absorb knowledge voraciously, and embrace the joy of learning! 

On your marks, get set, go!

Dive into the Library's catalogue, visit the reading rooms or check out our research guides to kick off your study.