Essential Study Skills

Reading Well

You Are What You Read: A Practical Guide to Reading Well
DiYanni, Robert

You Are What You Read: A Practical Guide to Reading WellAn academic guide for readers who seek to restore the pleasures of concentrated, close reading in the digital age. It outlines advice on approaching, interpreting and other recommended practices for reading both fiction and nonfiction.

Taking Notes

How to Take Effective Lecture Notes
Bentia, Magdalena, University of Waterloo Writing & Communication Centre

The resource outlines the three most effective methods for writing lecture notes with helpful illustrations.

Take Great Notes
Leicester, Mal, and Denise Taylor

Take Great NotesA short, concise guide to taking study, research and lecture notes, providing advice on identifying the main points of a source or a lecture, developing good notetaking habits, and selecting the best notetaking method.

Participating in Class Discussions

Tips for Participating in Class Discussions
University of Iowa Counseling Service

Advice on preparing for class participation, from understanding the assigned topic, preparing for discussion, making informed comments, and asking thoughtful questions. 

Participating in Class Discussion: Contributions That Count
Princeton University McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

An outline of strategies for preparing and engaging in class discussion and advice on how to respectfully disagree.

Stand Up and Be Heard: Taking the Fear Out of Public Speaking at University
Grieve, Rob

Stand Up and Be Heard: Taking the Fear Out of Public Speaking at UniversityA comprehensive advice book on all aspects of public speaking, formal and informal: delivering presentations, participating in class discussions, and talking with friends. The text provides practical exercises and strategies that will help you manage your fear and outlines the benefits of “authentic” and relying on your own voice and personality.

Speaking for Yourself: A Guide for Students to Effective Communication
Barrass, Robert

Speaking for Yourself: A Guide for Students to Effective CommunicationAn excellent guide to developing oral communication skills, with the emphasis on the ability to converse, to discuss, to argue persuasively, and to speak in public. This book will help you to become a good listener, express yourself clearly and persuasively, ask thoughtful questions in lectures and tutorials, contribute effectively to class discussions, prepare talks or presentations, and perform well in interviews.

Communicating Effectively

Well Said! Presentations and Conversations that Get Results
Price, Darlene

Book cover of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations that Get ResultsThe book advises readers on how to put themselves in their audience’s shoes and tailor their message to the needs of decision makers through effective and persuasive communication. Advice on persuading a decision maker, mastering a confident and engaging delivery style, speaking with the voice of authority, conveying a professional image through dress and appearance, facilitating meetings, writing persuasive email messages, and other topics.

How to Succeed at University (and Get a Great Job!): Mastering the Critical Skills You Need for School, Work, and Life
Klassen, Thomas R., and John Dwyer

How to Succeed at University (and Get a Great Job!): Mastering the Critical Skills You Need for School, Work, and LifeTeamwork, meeting deadlines, overcoming challenges, solving problems, writing and presenting well, and dealing with people are essential in any professional job. These same skills are also vital to becoming a strong student. This practical guide shows you how to master the critical skills and strategies for success at school, work, and in life. Also includes advice on managing your online presence and personal brand on social media, adapting to changing circumstances, developing positive attitudes, learning to network, and dealing with the transition from university to the workplace. 


Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of Distraction
Stigchel, Stefan van der, and Danny Guinan

Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of DistractionAttention expert and cognitive psychologist van der Stigchel shows how concentration works, makes clear how we sometimes misuse our working memory, and provides techniques that allow you to maintain your concentration for longer.

Thinking Critically

Oxford Guide to Effective Argument and Critical Thinking
Swatridge, Colin

Oxford Guide to Effective Argument and Critical ThinkingPractical advice on assessing the arguments of others and making your own effective arguments, with information on approaching an essay or discussion question and offering counter-claims.

Critical Thinking: Your Essential Guide
Chatfield, Tom

Critical Thinking: Your Essential GuideA comprehensive advice book on all aspects of critical thinking, using practical applications and experiences.

Writing Well

The Transition from High School to University Writing
Vogan, Becky, and Jerry Plotnick, University College Writing Centre

The University of Toronto Writing Centres provide a number of advice files on developing academic research and writing skills, including instructions on writing essays for specific disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences. This resource outlines the major differences and expectations between high-school level and university-level writing.


TL;DR: A Very Brief Guide to Reading and Writing in University
Hartse, Joel Heng

TL;DR: A Very Brief Guide to Reading and Writing in UniversityOffers clear, accessible, and short chapters covering everything from writing a summary to quoting a source to putting sentences and paragraphs together. The book provide an introduction to some of the most important “basics” of writing for university courses as well as advice on how to write a conclusion and substantial overview of what professors want you to write and why.

Doing Essays and Assignments: Essential Tips for Students
Greasley, Pete

Doing Essays and Assignments: Essential Tips for StudentsThe guide provides into the marking process, provides instruction on incorporating critical analysis, perspectives, and arguments. It also gives advice on avoiding plagiarism.

Essentials of Academic Writing for International Students
Bailey, Stephen

Essentials of Academic Writing for International StudentsThe first part of the book, "Process and Skills" outlines each stage of the writing process, from selecting appropriate sources to re-writing and proofreading. The second part, "Elements of Writing," covers key areas for improving writing skills.


Give Great Presentations
Becker, Lucinda M.

Give Great PresentationsA short, concise advice guide to mastering class presentations, with tips and tools for preparing your notes, using effective body language and your nerves to your advantage, and learning from each presentation you deliver.

A Student’s Guide to Presentations: Making Your Presentation Count
Chivers, Barbara, and Michael Shoolbred

A detailed guide to the preparation and delivery of both individual and group presentations: understanding the elements of engaged and effective presentations, developing content and structure, designing presentation slides, and answering questions from your audience.

Conducting Academic Research

Writing Your First Paper
Barc, Agatha

An annotated bibliography to the major resources on each stage of conducting university level research, including consulting reference sources, locating books and journal articles, and evaluating different types of publications to the topic of your research. 

The Oxford Guide to Library Research
Mann, Thomas

The Oxford Guide to Library ResearchThis book shows researchers how to do comprehensive research on any topic. This includes not just lists of resources, but discussions of the ways to search within them: how to find the best search terms, how to combine the terms, and how to make the databases (and other sources) show relevant material even when you don’t know how to specify the best search terms in advance.

Z710 .M23 2015


Working on a Group Project

Work Well in Groups
Hopkins, Diana, and Tom Reid

Work Well in GroupsA concise guide with tips for becoming an effective team member: build communication skills to get to know and coordinate work with your your team, defining roles and workloads, and resolving challenges to avoid conflict.

Designing a Research Poster

Create Your Research Poster
Lacatus, Corina, and Alex Nogues

Create Your Research PosterA short but comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about translating your research project into an effective research poster, including the basic elements of good poster design.

Poster Presentations
Becker, Lucinda M.

This chapter from Presenting Your Research: Conferences, Symposiums, Poster Presentations and Beyond outlines the structure and organization of research poster presentation sessions at conferences and symposia. It also provides advice on considering the size, design, use and colour and branding of posters in the sciences and humanities.

Preparing for an Exam

How to Pass Exams
Orr, Fred

How to Pass ExamsAdvice on managing your time, improving memory, controlling anxiety, and approaching different types of tests and exams.


Locating Additional Sources

Please consult one of our reference librarians or schedule a research consultation if you have questions about the resources listed in the guide or if you would like to find additional books, articles or online sources and advice related to developing various study, research, and writing skills.

created by: Agatha Barc | updated: 27 October 2023