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Top tips for independent learning

Top tips for independent learningIndependent or self-directed learning is an important skill whether you plan to continue your studies after school or college or enter the world of work.

What is independent learning?

Independent learning is when an individual is able to think, act and pursue their own studies autonomously, without the same levels of support you receive from a teacher at school.

In other words, you need to be able to do your own research instead of expecting a teacher to give you all the background material you might need.

To become a good independent learner you need to be:

  • Motivated
  • Resilient, to overcome challenges
  • An excellent time manager

Why is independent learning important?

Independent learning is not just important to become a good student. The skills you gain are transferrable to most jobs. These include:


How can I become an independent learner?

Active reader: You will need to be an active reader, paying close attention to the words you are reading and their meaning.

Skim read: Speed read or skim material before reading it in detail and then summarising the text in your notes.

Go solo: Practice working on your own for long periods of time without seeking the help of an adult.

Different sources: When doing research, try to draw from a variety of different sources.

Be persistent: If a task is challenging, don’t give up. Keep at it until you understand what you need to do.

Seek help where necessary: Asking for support and advice is an important part of independent learning. Unlike school, you are unlikely to be spoon-fed all the information you need in work or at university. If you need help, ask for it! 

Discussions: If you want to expand an argument but are stuck for ideas, get a debate going with friends or peers. This could help you think about an element you hadn’t considered before.

Set goals: A good way to keep your motivation up is to think what you want to get out of your work and remind yourself next time you’re flagging.

Effective time management: In work or uni studies, you’re more than likely to have several pieces of work to juggle at any one time. Break each project down into the relevant tasks, work out how long you will need to spend on each part, then allocate time in your diary in order or priority.