KU Leuven offers its students a high-quality academic education. A degree from KU Leuven is highly valued around the world, giving you a competitive edge. According to international rankings, KU Leuven is among the best 100 universities in the world. Sounds appealing, right? But are students able to keep up with the pace of courses offered?

For some students the structure seems not very convenient since no midterms are offered. The only way of estimating the knowledge gained during the semester is done by final exams. It is the only time of the year when you can show what have you gained throughout the semester. Of course, some projects and assignments take place too. But they do not account for the most of your mark.

Studying as international student in another university is rather a challenge coping with another academic culture. At these pages, you can find out how you could approach or improve your study at KU Leuven. You’ll find different themes (time management, study approach, exams, writing, stress,…).

Time management: Some students spend too little time on their studies, some students spend too much. The educational system and expectations at KU Leuven may differ significantly from the education you previously received at other institutions. For this reason, time management is often an even greater challenge for international students. In spending too little time on your studies, you will quickly end up telling yourself that you can’t achieve good results. In studying (too) much, sometimes at the expense of yourself, you’ll want to play it safe and get good grades.


Adjusting to a new environment and studying in a culture that has different customs, can severely impact your concentration. Developing a healthy attitude towards concentration is not easy, but it is necessary to succeed in your studies.

Some people find it easier to focus than others, and the duration of concentration varies from one person to another. It is important to know that each person, generally speaking, is capable of concentration. When watching a movie, for example, most people have little trouble focusing for 1,5 hour.  

There are several causes to blame for concentration problems during study sessions. Read more about such causes and how to tackle them in the section below.

Evaluate which of the causes apply to you and which tips you are willing to try.  

In times of social media, smartphones and a constant stream of information, your surroundings can be a major source of distraction. Furthermore, the following factors can have a negative impact on your concentration:

  • Poor time management
  • Unadapted study method
  • Lack of motivation
  • Physical discomfort
  • Psychological discomfort
  • Course material that is difficult for you

Depending on what causes your concentration problems, the tips to tackle them may vary.

From the beginning of the year it is not easy to understand the most appropriate methods of studying for each of the subjects, cause it requires some time to adapt to them. Nevertheless, some methods that might be useful for most of the courses is notetaking.


It might seem as a loss of time since students regard PowerPoint  presentations posted on the online platform (Toledo) as a sufficient means of studying, however, teachers always have valid points that are applicable to the exams.

In general, to understand the concept of the course it is beneficial to attend the classes, although professors do not point that out.

Actively taking notes is an important step towards processing the study material and facilitates studying. Active note taking requires a ‘before, during, and after’-approach. Before, you should think about what you want to note and how you can take notes efficiently. While studying, you select the most relevant ideas from the notes that are not included in the textbook or PowerPoint slides. You can also add questions or commentary. When going through your notes, highlight the structure of the text, study what you didn’t understand at first and annotate items that require further research. At the KU Leuven, it is important not to simply understand the content of what the professor is trying to get across, but to understand his/her reasoning as well. Exam questions may ask you to phrase critical thoughts or opinions on certain topics; it is important to keep this in mind while taking and studying courses.

Do not hesitate to ask questions from professors. It is true that they do not have to answer all of your questions during the breaks, but for that reason every professor has his or her office hour where you can be personally guided through the questions that might arise during the academic year. From the viewpoint of successful students, it is best to utilize it.