Student Life May 28, 2020
5 tips how to study smarter, not harder during the corona virus outbreak

5 tips how to study smarter, not harder during the corona virus outbreak

We know that young people who are at university and study have been some of the hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Few imagined – we certainly didn’t! – at the start of this year, within weeks the higher education sector around the globe would be grinding to a halt, with some countries shutting down their academic institutions indefinitely. 

Of course, we’re aware that taking higher education online is neither easy nor cheap. According to former vice-chancellor of Edinburgh University, Prof Sir Tim O’Shea, most universities in the UK are now facing costs of £10 million or more in order to create five or six new online degrees in different faculties, ready for the September intake. 

An expert on computer-based learning, Prof O’Shea estimates that just 20 or so universities are well placed to achieve this at present. The cost of doing so across the sector would easily exceed £1 billion in the UK alone. This cost and the difficulties associated with offering suitable courses online is mirrored around the world. 

Translating Effort into Achievement 

While we’ve seen a great deal of emphasis on what universities need to do in the face of our ‘new normal,’ that doesn’t mean that students aren’t also able to take action. After all, we’re certain that you’ll want to ensure you get the best education and the most out of your time at uni – even if the ‘at’ part is largely virtual rather than physical for the time being!

In that spirit we’ve rounded up five tools and tips that will help you to work smarter rather than harder, ensuring that your studying efforts translate into achievements. 

How can I study effectively from home? These five resources will definitely help you!


1. Tomedes Text Summarizer

This summariser is the ideal tool for giving your research skills a boost.


We love that the Tomedes Text Summarizer allows you to grab copy from websites; quickly and easily. It is also helpful to grab pages to gather useful resources for a crucial essay or to collate your research ready for you to use offline later. 

The Text Summarizer was developed with those who work in translation in mind initially, but was quickly adopted by writers, researchers and a range of other web users looking to optimise their efficiency. This tool is all about speeding up the way that you research, leaving you more time to focus on all the other aspects of successful studying and essay writing. 

The cost for all this assistance in your research? Absolutely nothing.

2. TEDEd

If you’re after ideas, inspiration, new ways of thinking or simply an alternative to the pile of textbooks on your table, there’s plenty to discover at TEDEd. Would you like to uncover more about the habits of original thinkers? Explore the hidden life of Rosa Parks? Discover how the Monkey King escaped the underworld? 

Whatever you’re studying, we think TEDEd is worth a look to expand your critical thinking abilities. Talks and lessons are grouped by age, with 72 pages of them aimed at university-level students at the time of writing – well over 1,700 free resources in total. You can browse through them all and see what takes your fancy, or hone in on a particular area of study, such as psychology, science and technology or the arts. 

TED is known for its insightful talks. By focusing these lessons specifically on students, they are delivering a valuable resource that can bring higher education alive in the home. Team up with a friend studying the same subject and discuss what you’ve seen over a video call to compare insights and get even more benefit. 

3. Trello 

Trello is, in essence, an online Kanban board – and we do like a good organisational tool. You can organise tasks across a series of boards, which are arranged in columns. You choose what to call the boards and how much detail to include in the tasks. You can attach files to the cards, set due dates, add labels and create checklists. 

If you’re not naturally hyper-organised, then don’t worry – Trello takes care of that for you. It’s used by businesses around the world to manage everything from simple tasks to complex projects, so is the perfect tool to help you make sure you’ve planned in each essay. You can set deadlines for writing them, attach your research notes and much more. 

Not only is it super useful, but Trello also has a very student-friendly price tag. If you opt for the most basic plan, which includes unlimited personal boards, cards and lists, with up to 10MB per file attachment, Trello costs £0 per user per month. Forever. That’s certainly a budget-friendly number. 

4. Brainly’s At-home Learning Guide

Trying to undertake an education from home is new to the majority of students. However, there is an established, hard-working community of home-based educators who have been successfully nurturing young people’s minds for years. 

Is studying from home a good idea? Right now, it doesn’t really matter whether you think it is or not – it’s obligatory for all of us. We think it’s time to tap into the experts. Let’s use this time to learn from those who know all about how to study from home effectively. 

This is where Brainly’s At-home Learning Guide comes in. This huge resource delivers advice and insights from the home-school community that are invaluable during the coronavirus crisis. If you’re looking for inspiration and motivation, we think this is the place to start. Simply scroll through the guide for access to resources, recommendations, pieces of advice and more. 

Whether you’re looking to conquer distractions (which so many of us are doing in crowded, noisy households right now) or to explore a new topic (how does a free online coding camp sound?), there’s plenty here to help you study smarter. 

5. Grammarly 

Whatever you’re studying, you’ll need to hand in essays regularly, so why not ensure that they are the best they can possibly be? Grammarly, which offers a free plan (there’s that price tag we like again), is like having your own personal proofreader and editor. And who wouldn’t want that? 

Easy to use and super useful in terms of double checking your grammar, Grammarly will allow you to polish your essays so that your ideas can shine through, without any clumsy wording or typos to distract your tutors from the important points that you’re making. 

Those who graduated before 2020 will have had a very different experience of studying than currently enrolled students are now facing. However, with everyone working together, we can ensure that this new reality is one in which young people across the globe can continue to receive the higher education they deserve. 

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