Making the most out of your studies in New Zealand

Making the most out of your studies in New Zealand

You’ve just arrived in New Zealand. You don’t know where you should stay, you haven’t made friends yet, have no family nearby and your English is not excellent. How can you make sure you still keep up with your classmates?


As a student who arrived at Victoria in April last year from Vietnam, I thought it might be helpful to share some strategies to keep you on track for your exams and make the most out of your time at Victoria.

Attend all of your classes

Go to every class, listen to your lecturers, and make note of anything you don’t understand. Attending every session will give you a fuller understanding of the subject and also means you won’t miss out on important information, such as requirements for assignments, presentations and exams.

Use readings and the Library to improve understanding

Complete your readings and look over lesson notes before class so you can keep up with the speed of the lecturer. When you don’t understand something in class, try to re-read over your class notes, then look over the course textbook. If you’re not able to understand an English textbook, see if you can find one in your native language.

Go to the University Library and borrow relevant books to read more around the subject. Take them home and extend the loan time until you’ve finished exploring them.

Ask your lecturer for help

After reading over books and discussing material with your classmates, if your problems have not been solved, now is the time to talk to your lecturer through tutorials or lectures, or by appointment. Some courses have one day a week when you can discuss questions with lecturers, or you can ask them right after class.

Ask them about exams during the final lecture. Be sure that you know about the exam format and learn the right way to answer questions.

Study with your classmates

Even for courses that don’t include a group assignment, you can still gather together your classmates for study groups. This is a time when you can discuss with friends any difficulties you’re having with assignments (but make sure not to copy each other), lectures and questions for upcoming exams. It’s also a chance to enhance your knowledge, and practise your English and communication skills.

Finish your assignments as soon as possible

Don’t leave assignments until the last minute. Try to solve assignments as soon as the lecture’s over. It’s also a good time to revise the lecture content too.

Start exam preparation early

Prepare for your exams by completing practice tests. Use your course code to search for past exam papers on the Library’s past exam database. Print them out and solve each exam question. You should start this from halfway through the course—don’t leave it until the last week of the trimester. By doing this, you’ll get familiar with the exam format and can manage your time better in the exam.

It’s helpful to revise lecture-by-lecture during the trimester to reduce the pressure when it comes to exam time.

Now, you’ve tried your best, and you’ll be ready for the exam, so make sure to take time to relax and chill out too!

Huyen Nguyen is a first-year PhD student of the School of Economics and Finance.

Interested in sharing your experience? Read our submission guidelines and get in touch with your story ideas.