The education at Hasselt University consists of 2 key components:
Most programmes combine lectures and practical sessions, both on-campus and online. Attend all your lectures and practical sessions, even if they are not mandatory.
There’s more than attending lectures and practical sessions. Hasselt University has a unique approach to learning: guided by study instructions from the professors, you can study the subject matter more or less autonomously.
The following skills are indispensable to be successful in an educational system that includes autonomous learning:
Since you have to take charge of your learning process, self-regulation is an essential skill in autonomous learning.
And here’s some good news: you can learn to self-regulate your learning!
Are you suffering from a lack of self-discipline?
Reflect critically on what you are learning, on the information, ideas and arguments you hear and read.
Tips & tricks to apply critical thinking:
Academic writing is essential to your study at Hasselt University since you have to write academic papers for some of your courses, not to mention your master’s thesis.
Tips for academic writing:
Some courses include group assignments, which means you need teamwork: you’ll work constructively with fellow students towards a common goal.
Your grade can be based on the product but also (partly) on the process (e.g. by peer assessment).
Tips on teamwork:
So many textbooks and lectures … how to study it all!?
Tackle it step by step:
Check the steps of a study process (website) or read them below.
Start your study with a short orientation on the subject matter: read through the intertitles, the introduction or the conclusion and get a picture of what you will learn.
A preview of the study material takes little time and increases your concentration, insight and efficiency.
Students who attend the courses have higher degrees. So go to your classes and take notes since the professor might teach subject matter that is not in the PowerPoint or the textbook.
Write down the key concepts on paper or on a laptop, whatever you prefer.
Online recorded lectures?
Use a similar approach as during on-campus lectures: write down the key points and valuable examples. Pause the recording if necessary, but be aware that you don’t have to write down everything (that would waste too much time).
Boredom can strike more than in a regular lecture, so stay active while listening, e.g. by taking notes, drawing a scheme or writing down your questions.
After the lecture: read through your notes: and look for gaps.
After the lectures, it's time to study.
This is what you do during autonomous learning:
To study a textbook efficiently: structure it. There are different ways to do so: you can annotate and highlight the text, schematise, or make an excessive table of content.
You can combine these strategies to make sure you fully understand the material.
Check if you’re right on track:
Get help if you come across any problems!
You can contact:
These tips can help you stay motivated:
45 hours a week, that’s the average amount of time you spend studying, writing essays, taking classes etc., if you take a full-time programme of 60 ECTS study points.
At Hasselt University, there is a certain amount of time for independent learning between your lectures. So even if you don’t have any classes scheduled, you still need to spend a lot of time studying autonomously, individually or in a group setting.
It is essential to manage your time effectively.
These tips and tricks will give you a head start!
A fixed daily schedule gives your days a basic structure, something to hold on to. It creates space in your head.
You can plan your study work, tasks and appointments around this structure and keep flexible to unexpected changes.
Some ideas on structuring your days:
Making a schedule makes you think about how you wish to spend your time. It helps you do what you want to do more effectively.
There are different ways to schedule or plan your studies.
In a to-do list, you write down some tasks for yourself that you want to complete.
You can make a to-do list per day or week.
If you opt for a weekly variant, mark your daily goals every morning.
Write down your to-do list on paper or in an online application.
Difficulties with prioritising your tasks?
Maybe working with a to-do list provides enough structure for you to start working and manage your time effectively.
Others might need more detailed planning, for example, a weekly schedule.
A weekly schedule gives you an overview of your entire week. It is a way to structure your tasks and organise your days effectively.
Ready to make your weekly study plan?
Tips for building weekly schedules:
Helpful apps for making weekly schedules:
Like your smartphone, your brain also needs a 'charging moment' now and then. Pausing energises your brain so you can continue studying efficiently.
A ‘good’ break gives you energy so you can keep going!
- The effect of taking breaks at a glance (infographic)
- the effect of taking breaks, illustrated by an example (website)
Things NOT to do during a break:
But what could you do then?
Things you can DO during a break:
Get some inspiration
Do you tend to postpone essential tasks and study work?
Do you visit procrastination island (image) regularly?
Autonomous learning education gives you a lot of freedom. That can lead to postponing study tasks, time and time again.
How can you beat procrastination?
There are various ways to tackle procrastination:
The Pomodoro technique helps you to start and keep studying with a fixed schedule:
Keep in touch with your programme, your tutors and fellow students.
Don't read the same textbook all day, but also make exercises, or alternate with another subject.
At the times when you have an (online) class, you also do something for this subject. You don't procrastinate on this.
Listening to recorded lessons can take more time and energy than attending a physical lesson. Apply the Pomodoro technique:
After 4 blocks, take a long break (and you may also have listened to your lesson).
Get inspired by our e-module time management (website)
Concentrating is not always easy at home.
These tips can help:
More info in this infographic of the Pomodoro technique, or watch this video to work smarter (3').
That way, no one will disturb you while studying, and your focus won't be interrupted.
Looking for more concentration tips?
Check out our e-module Focus (website).
Read our study tips on how to prepare for exams
Stress has a negative connotation for most people. It’s something you most likely want to avoid.
However, some stress isn’t bad at all. Challenges that cause a certain amount of stress - like studying abroad - can make you feel alive.
Moreover, stress can help you perform better because it can benefit your focus.
Though, if you experience too much stress, there are adverse effects.
There are many ways to manage your stress.
For example, if a dispute with a friend causes you great stress, makeup.
For example: Instead of thinking, “I will never pass my course”, think: “I will do my best and see how it goes.”
Easier said than done, we know. It will take some rehearsing to get the hang of it, but these helpful thoughts will become more automatic if you keep repeating them.
Try to find a way to relieve stress that works for you.
For example, relaxation exercises, walking in a forest, running, listening to music, talking to a friend …
These exercises can help you relax:
Recognise that, considering the circumstances, it is normal to feel anxious and worried from time to time.
Of course, you worry from time to time about your studies, your family and your friends.
Are your worrying thoughts taking up too much time?
Try one of the following techniques to stop them:
Watch a series or movie, read a book, (video)chat with your family, or go for a walk with a friend.
Spend a particular moment every day worrying. If you notice you start worrying at any other time, say to yourself: “This is something to worry about in my time dedicated to worrying.”
You can write your worries down on a piece of paper so that you will remember them later.
When your worry time is there, you can worry about everything on your list for about 15 minutes. You can also write about them, e.g. in a diary.
When the 15 minutes are over, it’s time for some distraction (see above).
It doesn’t lead to great insights but narrows your view and enlarges the situation.
Find out what works best for you!
In a new educational system, it might be challenging to keep your focus as an international student studying abroad or as a distance-learning student.
These strategies might help:
When you know how your brain works, you know how to guide it.
Where is your focus at its best?
Try out different locations and find out where your concentration is at its best:
Is your attention best when you're alone or better while studying with other students - in real life or via webcam?
Is your focus best with or without music?
A clean and well-organised study space enhances your concentration.
One of the biggest sources of distraction is digital media.
But how can you resist the tempting social media?
Make it easy on yourself:
Open a window daily for at least 10 to 30 minutes to bring in some fresh air.
Sufficient oxygen is essential for your brain to function.
After a well-chosen break, you restore your concentration and focus.
Your brain needs occasional rest to keep performing.
Do some exercise during your break! Exercising stimulates your focus.
Why? Because you can’t focus on 2 things at the same time. You really can’t!
So stop scrolling through your social feed or watching tv while studying.
This technique helps you to ‘monotask’ and stay focused with a fixed schedule:
- blocks of 25 minutes of non-stop study time,
- followed by a short break of +/- 5 minutes.
→ More info via this infographic and this video (3')
It’s true: you can train your focus, just like you can train your muscles!
Did you know that practising meditation can lighten your focus?
That way, no one will disturb you while you study and disrupt your focus.
Maybe they can even support you and help you with your plans.
Don’t just read and reread your course material, DO something with it.
Alternate between your subjects or tasks.
Alternation prevents boredom and keeps you alert.
When there is enough arousal (stimulation, adrenaline, motivation), you are in your ‘focus zone’: your attention is at its best.
Put a bottle of water next to you while studying. Since your brain consists mainly of water, drinking enough water is essential to focus.
Avoid so-called ‘energy drinks’; they have adverse effects in the long term.
Healthy food like fibres, nuts, fruits and vegetables can contribute to a good focus.
A student testifies (3') how she stays focused.
It’s probably not the first time you must prepare for and take exams.
You know how it’s done!
But you might need to adapt your exam skills slightly to the Hasselt University way of taking exams. Check out how you can beat your exams!
Here are some tips to get you started.
A revision schedule helps you stay on track, keep an overview and calm your nerves.
You can build your study schedule in 3 steps:
Helpful tips for exam planning:
There are many different kinds of exams, but these guidelines work well for all exams:
Before you start answering the questions as a headless chicken:
Read both the instructions and the questions thoroughly. Don’t read what you think, but read what is asked of you.
Indicate keywords and split the questions into different parts to make sure you’ve read all aspects of the question.
How can you use your scratch sheet?
! Do not write your full answer in a draft to neatly rewrite on your exam form; you will be running out of time.
Build up your solution in a well-thought structure:
Don't dwell too long on a question if you don't know the answer immediately.
Skip the difficult questions and solve the most straightforward ones, so you have already earned those points.
When you feel the nerves taking over: close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths.
Find the most straightforward question and answer that one first, or write down a few key thoughts on your scratch paper.
At the end of each exam: keep some time for review.
Read through the entire exam:
→ Avoid making ‘stupid’ mistakes on your exams (video, 5’)
There are different types of exams and different types of questions. Check the evaluation type of your courses in the online study guide.
Different exam questions require different approaches.
Find out more information and tips below.
Most of your exams will probably be ‘closed book’ exams: you are not allowed to bring any resources with you on the exam. You have to rely on your memory and understanding of the course material to answer the questions on the exam.
On an open book exam, you can bring (some of) your course material to the exam. The professor will explain what you are allowed to bring with you.
You won’t have the time to look up everything in your books. So study well beforehand and manage your time wisely during the exam.
A take-home exam is a variant of an open book exam you can make at your place. It typically consists of one or a few questions for which you get a lot of time.
Open-ended questions are questions that need a complete answer.
There are different types of open questions:
For most open-ended questions, the teacher expects you to write comprehensive, well-structured answers that contain sentences, lists etc. You need to give new and deeper insights into the subject matter.
Depending on the question and the blank provided, the length of your answer may vary.
Closed-ended questions are either:
Some study programmes use the online evaluation tool ‘DOCIMO’. In this tool, you’re not only asked to select the correct answer, but you must also indicate how confident you are about your answer (i.e. the degree of certainty). This system also applies correction for guessing, but an incorrect answer can still give you points. So always try to answer the question in DOCIMO.
In this kind of questions, you need to find a solution to new exercises, case studies ...
How to prepare?
✔ Make exercises and test exams (without looking for the solution first)
✔ Mix exercises from different chapters
✔ Make sure you have a good command of the theoretical concepts that can help you solve the exercises
✔ Making a formulary can provide an overview
! Do not expect the same exercises as in the practice sessions; you might get an unpleasant surprise. On the exam is tested whether you can go a step further and if you can solve new kinds of exercises.
You must explain your answers to the professor in an oral exam.
You might get some time to prepare your answers on paper.
Tips for tackling your oral exam (website)
How to prepare for an oral exam? (video, 12’)
Tips for oral exams WITH written preparation:
Tips for your oral explanation:
Take care of your non-verbal communication:
→ Discover how your body language can help you during an oral exam (video, 9’)
Some tips for your verbal expression:
Permanent evaluation can be a part of your evaluation.
It is a continuous assessment that typically consists of assignments (portfolio, interim tests, paper, reports, etc.) during the academic year.
An (oral) presentation can be a part of your evaluation. It can be taken individually or in a group.
Tips for a good presentation:
Do you have online exams?
Not ideal conditions for taking your online exam at home?
Do you lack a trustable PC or a quiet place with a stable internet connection to take your online exam at home properly?
You can apply to take your online exam on-campus.
Find out how to apply for this facility to take your online exams on-campus (website).
The social services offer free loaner laptops for students who temporarily do not have a computer. You can find the application form in your electronic student file.
Do you have questions about certain topics?
Make an appointment with your study coach.