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Study tips for neurodiverse students

Neurodiversity is term used to refer to the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits. Neurodiversity is far more common than you might think and includes conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Dyspraxia and Dyslexia. Being neurodiverse means that some study techniques might work better for you than others. Today we’re talking to neurodiverse Disability Support and Inclusion Service’s Manager Jen Harley to get her top study tips for our neurodiverse students.

Organisation

Clear organisation can make a massive difference when it comes to maximising your study time. Here are some tips to simplify your studying.

  • For each module make a folder/section in a folder and divide it into workshops. This can be done digitally or with hardcopies. (If you are doing proctored exams- you’ll need a hard copy). This will allow you to find subjects more easily, which is especially useful during open book exams.
  • Use mind maps or time lining for overviewing concepts and the module. You can also use this technique for planning essays by breaking down concepts into visible chunks.
  • Some neurodiverse students struggle with concentration and the feeling that words are moving or flickering on the page. Coloured overlays can sometimes help these problems by making text visually clearer and more comfortable to see. Green is my go-to colour but you might instinctively feel that another colour would work better for you.

Consolidation

Consolidation is how you prepare to revise.

  • Colour-code different types of information – colour-coding can be a really useful visual trigger for anyone. For example; putting all your tables on yellow paper, notes on green and mind maps on pink etc. will allow you to flip to this information with minimal effort.
  • Structure your information clearly. You can group together important cases, legislation, precedents, etc. to make them easy to find.
  • Use formatting such as bold text to make key information stand out.

Revision tips

Folder – Having a neat, well-structured folder with colour coding can be an absolute game changer. No one has time for loose sheets of paper falling out all over the place.

  • Review – Are you clear on each point from your workshops. Use the workshop outlook and aims to ensure you understand everything.
  • Summarise – Make sure your notes are clear and concise. There’s no point in rushing to get them done if you can’t read them easily later.
  • Practice – Print a test paper from the ULaw Virtual Learning Environment (Elite) and give it a go. This is a great time to check your folder is organised in the best way and gives you time to make any alterations before a real exam. After your test, you will self-mark it. You might be tempted to go easy on yourself but don’t.
  • Fill in the gaps - If you are strict with the marking, this will only help you to see the areas you need improvement in. Pay extra attention to these areas until you are completely confident.
  • Memory games - If you are struggling to remember key legislation/cases, try creating a word document with two columns. Writing the key legislation/cases in one column and then what it means in the other column. Save this document so you can refer to it later. Then print it off, cut it up into sections, shuffle them together and test your memory by trying to pair the legislation and meaning back together again.

Exam preparation

  • Once you know the total amount of marks for an exam, divide this by the length of time you have to complete the exam. Say the exam is 200 minutes and there is a total of 50 marks available, you have 4 minutes per mark. This way you have a rough guideline of how long you should spend on a question, depending on the amount of marks it is worth. If you can find out these details before the exam, write it in the front of your folder or notepad as a reminder.
  • If you are signed up with the ULaw Disability Support and Inclusion Services, you’ll receive an inclusion plan before your exams. This will detail all the adjustments such as extra time, stopping the clock and other provisions. Make sure you are happy with this and understand it all before heading into the exam.
  • Check out the exam portal you will be using at least 1-2 weeks ahead of the exam. This will allow you plenty of time to iron out any technical issues and get accustomed to the way it works. This could save you vital time on exam day.
  • On Elite, scroll down to the section called Student Support Services and click on +6, click Macmillan Study Skills. There you will find a Time Management module you can take to improve your time management skills.

 

Discover how our Student Support Services can help you during your time at ULaw.