5 Study Traps I’ve Seen Others Fall Into

You wouldn’t think there were many dangers to studying at uni.  I never thought so until I experienced it.  Trust me, there are dangers.

I fell into some traps myself, but I’ll tell you more about those in my next post.  For now, here are some of the traps that people around me fell into:

Girl in suitcase (photo by MaxMilli0n)

1. Compare yourself to others

Have your mates not started revising yet?  Do they learn everything in five minutes flat?  Is their work always neater and more organised than yours?  Are their working methods more effective?  Are they busy having fun and you want some of that too?

Comparisons generally serve as excuses, because we’re all different.  It makes no difference how those around you complete their study.  It’s one thing to get helpful hints from them, but it’s another thing to complain that you have it worse.  And it’s fruitless to try emulating the style of someone you know, because they are leading a different life.

Place a focus on what benefits you, not what you see benefitting someone else.  By all means try out different ways of working, but make sure the onus is placed firmly on to you.

2. Bow to Peer Pressure

Q – Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
A – Because it was dead.
Q – Why did the second monkey fall out of the tree?
A – Because it was tied to the first monkey.
Q – Why did the third monkey fall out of the tree?
A – Peer pressure.

This joke is one of my all time favourites.  Not because I laugh out loud, but because it makes a good point.  Peer pressure is a weakness, not a strength.  We all bow to it occasionally, but needn’t do so on a regular basis, especially at important times.

You hold the key to how much revision you need to do and you have the tools to balance your life.

When it’s important to knuckle down, stay strong.

3. Have a closed mind

Old sayings often hold an element of truth and sense to them.  Take this one:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

It’s an old saying, but one we should recognise and use.

We all too often give up at the first hurdle.  And even if we’re persistent, it doesn’t always transpire to try a different method in order to clear the obstacle.

Success is not a given and it comes with a lot of failure too.  Take the Virgin brand of products.  There have been a number of flops over the years, but you can’t seriously call Richard Branson a failure.  In the grand scheme of things, he has been a great success.  And he left school at 15, so he didn’t even venture to university.  His first successful business was at 16 years of age, with a magazine called ‘Student’.

Branson had a couple of failed business ideas before the magazine too, but with an open mind, he has come a long way.

So university or not…you can utilise this tip with pretty much anything you put your (open) mind to.  Get out there and believe in what you do!

4. Use internal excuses to feel better

More than anything else, I hear people making excuses.  I’m not talking about the schoolkid claims of “the dog ate it” and “I left it on the bus”.  I’m referring to our internal excuses…the things we convince ourselves of so we feel better in the short term.

Internal excuses can even be a cue to take offence when friends and family are concerned and try to help you out.  Here are just a few excuses:

“I’ve not been given the right information to revise from.”

“It’s too early to bother with this yet.  I’ll do it nearer the time.”

“I work differently to others and don’t need to think about that.”

“There’s more to do than just study.  I’m too busy.”

“Nobody understands.  I’ve got other concerns getting in the way.  I need to sort those out before I can get on with anything else.”

“I don’t need to revise stuff.  I’ll cane the exams anyway.”

It’s amazing just how difficult it can be to have a truly honest think about yourself.  Denial is a strong force.  If you find yourself agreeing with any of the above excuses, you may still be in denial too.  And you’ll deny that as well, or find a further reason to excuse yourself in the circumstances!

5. Believe it’s less stressful to wait and do all your revision, writing and studying at the last minute.

Just like the scary tactic of leaving an essay until the night before it’s due in, many of us take to cramming for exams, without leaving any alternative.  If it all goes wrong, no matter what the reason, there’s no escape then.

It’s sad, but I’ve seen people fare badly in exams after their attempts to cram their revision into a couple of days went badly wrong.  Without any available time to try a different tactic and claw things back to their advantage, they had to go into their exams, knowing it was going to be pretty tough to pass.  If they were lucky, there was just enough there to scrape through.  But not everyone was lucky.

Nevertheless, this trap claims a lot of victims and it’s sure to claim more.

You’ve got a couple of options:

  • Convince yourself that doing everything at the last minute is not realistic.  Instead, plan ahead and lose the stress.

  • Convince yourself that you’re much better doing things at the last minute, but CREATE A BACKUP PLAN!

Either way, good luck to you!


  1. Thanks, Mobashir. I think university is a good place for experiencing many aspects of adult life for the first time.

    I believe that any enthusiastic student can learn many skills that will keep them focused as they continue through their life. So long as they make the most of their time understanding how to achieve their potential.

    Success goes way beyond essays and exams.

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