Método de estudio

Study method


Aplicaciones anidadas



The years of study at university can be likened to an intellectual pathway through which students must walk. The success of this pilgrimage - if it can be called that - is the result of the combination of a series of factors that can be summed up in two: hours of work and method.

The aim of the method is not only to maximise the hours devoted to study, but also to ensure that the time spent in university classrooms is an opportunity for personal and intellectual development and not just a requirement for obtaining a degree from graduate.

Cuestionario sobre método de estudio (PDF)


It may be daring to try to specify what a university student's studies should be like, as this is a very personal matter. However, it is possible to draw out a number of general principles to guide any student, whatever their course of study Degree .

Environmental conditions and study site

As has been pointed out, academic success is the result of a combination of several factors result . Some are vital (time and method) and we will devote most of this chapter to them. However, there are a number of environmental elements that can help or hinder academic performance. Thus, questions such as "where do I study", "alone or with friends" are particularly important. There are no general recipes for answering these questions: everyone should study where they feel most comfortable. And this is a general rule. But where does comfort lie? It has to be calm, quiet, spacious, well-lit, well ventilated, well-lit and conducive to concentration. As you can see, there are many places that can meet these conditions (my room, the Library Services at the University of Navarra, the conference room study room, etc.), and I can find a place where I can concentrate on my work. high school Mayor, residency program or a university club). Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Studying requires avoiding distractions. It is therefore difficult to study with music or the radio on, as these distractions disperse the senses and make it difficult to concentrate. Nor should we alter our natural timetable: studying at night usually makes us unsociable, as well as being, in many cases, a health risk.

What is studying?

The first two meanings of the noun "study" in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española are "effort that the intellect puts into knowing something" and "work employee in learning and cultivating a science or art". For a university student, study consists of intellectual work aimed at getting to know and discovering the area of knowledge chosen. Moreover, for every university student, study corresponds to his or her profession. In the same way that society entrusts mechanics with the task of repairing and maintaining vehicles, society allows university students to delay their entry into the labour market in exchange for acquiring a particular training. In this sense it can be said that a student is a study professionalwith all the responsibility that goes with it.

It is not uncommon for students, especially at the beginning of their studies, to ask themselves: "How many hours should I dedicate to my studies? At university, the unit of measurement for degrees is the credit. From 1992 until the 2009 curricular reform, one credit was equivalent to 10 teaching hours, i.e. 10 hours of class. With the changes that have taken place in universities to bring their degrees into line with the European Higher Education Area (commonly known as 'Bologna'), the credit - now called ECTS credit (European Credit Transfer System) - has become equivalent to about 25 hours of work at student. This change is intended to bring about a transformation of the university in order to make the student (and not the teacher) the protagonist of their university studies. The measure of work no longer pivots on the professor and its hours of class, but on the student and the time it takes to mature and learn about a subject.

So how much time are we talking about? It is not possible to fix a precise number of study hours for all students, even if professors try to adapt their subjects to the number of corresponding ECTS credit . Thus, if a course at the University of Navarra is configured so that its load professor is 60 ECTS credit, the number of hours of work for student should be 1,500 hours between the months of September and May. If the academic year is divided into two terms and each term is made up of approximately 14 teaching weeks and 3 weeks of final exams, it is easy to conclude that the average study and work load of student should not be less than 45 hours per week. This number would be difficult to achieve were it not for the fact that classes are also included.

As has been pointed out, the 45 hours per week are work and not necessarily study. Study and work are not perfect synonyms: all study is work, but not all work is study. However, for the sake of clarity, we will henceforth use the two terms interchangeably, as it is not always easy to distinguish between them in practice. The process of a student's intellectual maturation involves not only the mastery of a body of knowledge, the result of a laborious process of comprehension and retention. It requires, at the same time, the development of a series of intellectual aptitudes and capacities that allow a critical assimilation of knowledge (asking the "why" and "what for" of what is being studied) and its correct use in the resolution of problems. For this reason, it is common for students to be required to carry out case studies and other activities which, without being strictly study, require it (the solutions to practical problems are based on theory) and reinforce it (that practical knowledge which is not known how to "apply" is not really acquired).

Just as important as dedicating the right number of hours per week to academic tasks is knowing how to study. 

Phases of the study

For a university student, studying is a profession. As a dynamic reality, study evolves according to circumstances (practical work, reading texts, preparing assignments, approaching mid-term or final exams, etc.). This requires it to be adapted to a timetable that is often given and structured in different phases:


At the beginning of the academic year, the joint schedule of all the subjects is made public. This is a basic document for organising the study of semester. The schedule contains the timetable for practicals, mid-term exams and assessable activities. It should therefore be used as a study planning tool . 

The general schedule is the starting point for the distribution of the weekly time between the different subjects, so that progress in all of them is in step with each other. In other words, the schedule financial aid will help us to distribute the 750 hours of work of each semester in such a way that we achieve a harmonious growth of our knowledge.

On the basis of schedule, it is up to each student to organise his or her personal work plan.

From the point of view of the study of student, classes are the epicentre, an irreplaceable element that must be integrated into the daily work of the different subjects. In this sense, one hour of class well spent is usually equivalent to several hours of personal study

In order to make the most of the lessons, student should try to be an active occasional student , try to catch the evolution of the teacher's speech , try to understand what he/she says, think about it and take notes. And to be an active agent it is necessary to prepare the class by studying the subject. The frequent enquiry of schedule facilitates this preliminary work.

If classes take place during the five days of the week, it is appropriate for the student to spend some time every day reading and underlining the books, Materials and notes he/she has taken on class. Although we may not have realised it until then, our brain still stores many details from that class: the tone of voice of the teacher, the question of a classmate and his answer, the example the teacher used to illustrate this or that point, etc. Reading the notes, Materials of class or chapters dealt with that day will allow us to improve them, complete them and give the precise meaning to a symbol, an abbreviation, a gloss that only appears in our notes. It is not usually effective to carry out this process long after class. We will not remember why the teacher explained that question in that way, or what the rationale of that example is, or its connection with the subject explained. At final, we would be wasting the effort.

In this phase of study, the student only - and this is no small thing - has to be aware of whether he/she understands and comprehends what the teacher has explained or whether, on the contrary, there are any gaps to be filled in fill in or any doubts to be resolved. This is not the time to memorise, but to read, to understand subject and, at most, to underline the most important ideas. It is a question, in final, of intellectually structuring the contents explained in class or developed in the Materials teaching materials or in the reference manuals.

Underlining is the art of critically highlighting and discarding information received. The essential phrases and key words in a text are highlighted and the rest are discarded. This way of proceeding is useful to understand the organisation of ideas and the structure of a lesson through the hierarchy of information. In this way, the main ideas of a text are easily and quickly brought to the centre of attention. Moreover, on the basis of underlining, it will be possible in the future to review a lot of information in a short time.

For underlining to be effective, it must be done cleanly and correctly. Therefore, it is not advisable to do it at the first reading, because we could underline, without realising it, secondary ideas that do not really express the content of the text topic. Nor is it reasonable to underline all or almost all of the text, as this would imply a lack of critical sense, an inability to distinguish the main thing from the accessory. To differentiate between main and secondary ideas, it is useful to use two colours, as this graphically illustrates the different importance of the information.

A good outline can be used as the basis for a good outline. Outlining is an art that requires the development of analytical and synthesis skills. tool In addition, outlines are a particularly useful tool for memorising fundamental concepts and ideas, provided they are self-developed.

On the other hand, given that in all the subjects of the degree course students have access to printed teaching Materials , or reference manuals for their preparation, the traditional question about whether or not it is advisable to "pass clean notes" is meaningless. If the student, as has already been said, and will be insisted on later, prepares the classes through the recommended texts, his notes will no longer be the first or main source for the study of the subject, but rather ordered notes that will help the understanding and study of the Materials provided by the teacher.

This is the phase which, when properly understood, distinguishes a good student. After underlining, you should keep the notes and Materials from class and let them rest until you have enough material to go through a complete lesson or an autonomous part if the lesson is very long. When reviewing, try to internalise the subject of a subject to be able to reach a general and deep knowledge and, in this way, to be able to relate in a natural way what you already know with the new knowledge. 

The core topic of study lies in reviewing, in assimilating the subjects little by little until they become one's own, and not so much in memorising a series of disjointed pieces of information that, sooner or later, will be forgotten. The best way - and perhaps the only way - to internalise subject is to review it, that is, to return to it repeatedly throughout the course of semester. In this way, we will gain depth in a natural way, we will find the common thread of the subject, its internal coherence, the most important issues and those that are less important. Progressively, we will remember more and more secondary details.

Given its importance in university studies, revision should be central to all academic work. In order to revise properly, it is essential to plan semester in accordance with section a). If there is no order and planning, the more urgent tasks will end up drowning out the more important ones. We will thus spend an inordinate amount of time on practices and activities that only make sense in this more general process of study that we are dealing with. Teaching aids will have become ends in themselves, paradoxically hindering the acquisition of a solid university education. We will have wasted time and effort.

It is undeniable that report plays an important role in intellectual formation.

Memorising consists of gathering content in the mind and consolidating its preservation in order to recall it later. It is an arid, costly task with uncertain, almost capricious results. It is precisely because of the uncertainty of report that it is not possible to go directly from underlining to memorising, omitting the review phase, since it is at this point that a subject is assimilated.

As can be seen, the study is a process from the inside out. It is a process that begins with the internalisation of a series of ideas, arguments, principles, requirements more or less logical, which end up being overturned ad extra. It is not enough, therefore, to perceive how logical it is that the buyer has to pay the price in the contract of sale or that the contract signed by a person with a serious mental deficiency raises problems of validity, but it is necessary to know, remember, memorise that the buyer may pay until the resolutory injunction of the seller in accordance with article 1504 CC or that the action for annulment has a limitation period of 4 years whereas this period does not exist in cases of radical nullity of the contract.

The report allows us to retain a piece of information that is new to us, but it is not useful for retaining ideas that have not been previously understood or processed by our understanding. Moreover, if the information that fixes our report is important for our future, it must be internalised so as not to be forgotten, in the same way that we do not forget our birthday.

When memorising, the mechanical and meaningless repetition of texts through simple mnemonic rules is of little use, because most of the time these practices generate confusion, despair and mental exhaustion. On the contrary, memorising is an operation that requires relating what is learned with what is already known, that is, integrating knowledge by analogy, contrast or similarity.

On the basis of the previous curricula, the five phases of study (planning, attendance actively attending lectures, reading and underlining, revision and memorisation) were practically in chronological succession. The reason for this was that the assessment of subject was done through a single exam at the end of semester.

Following the introduction of the new Degree, assessment is divided into a series of graded activities that take place over the course of semester (mid-term exams, practicals, assignments, presentations, debates, etc.) that reduce the quantitative relevance of final examination. Degree These continuous assessment systems demand a greater commitment and responsibility from student in their academic training. Another consequence of the multiplication of assessed activities is that study planning becomes more important, since the university student must combine intense study to assimilate the subject of the different exams and tests with more relaxed work - less urgent but no less important - to understand, comprehend and underline the subjects of the different subjects, regardless of their immediate assessment.

Studying in the European Higher Education Area is therefore a continuous ritorno: a cyclical evolution in which review and memorisation take place several times over semester. This cyclical nature of study requires the student to be clear about schedule in order to know when to revise and when to memorise.