Semester 1 has now ended and we are comfortably in semester 2 with assignment deadlines fast approaching. This is the chance to look back at our academic mistakes, improve our skills and achieve higher marks. In this blog, I will provide you 12 with tips on how to improve your performance when it comes to assessments.
- Start early: This is objective. There are people who work effectively under pressure and other who prefer to have everything done prior to deadlines. Whichever type of student you are it is essential that you start planning your studying time well in advance. Make sure you have a rough idea of how many chapters you need to revise.
- Find the perfect place: Some students can study at home while others can never concentrate at home and choose a quiet café or the library. Do not spend time trying to study in places you know that you cannot study.
- Organise your study area: Make sure your desk is clean and that you have got all the notes, textbooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, flashcards, print-outs etc. on your desk or next to you. A one-minute break to grab a book could lead to a half an hour break. It is essential that you have organised your study area with all the relevant material and that you create an environment in which would help you be productive.
- Make sure you get water and snacks: Before starting your daily schedule of university work, make sure you have got snacks and water. It is vital that you remain hydrated. The process of studying is a complex one and your brain gets easily tired. Do not forget your snacks and fruits whilst revising.
- Set a daily target: A common situation is one in which students get too worried and anxious about how many things they have to do for one module or more. This is why you should set daily targets. Do not make them superficial and try to cover half of what you have learnt during the semester. It is impossible. Set feasible daily tasks (a.k.a TO DO LIST) and cross them out every time you complete them. You will feel much better having completed many small tasks rather than trying to complete one.
- Read the question and make sure you understand it: Before starting your research make sure you have read the question again and again and again. Analyse what you been asked to do and link it to what you have covered during the semester. A question could relate to two chapters only or to the whole textbook.
- Use your textbooks: Although textbooks are huge with many pages, they contain more information than lecture slides and most importantly textbooks are the foundation for building up further knowledge on a topic. It is a good idea to start your research by looking at the further reading section at the end of each chapter
- Identify what is relevant: Not everything is relevant. Do not try and read as many articles as possible and end up with 20 pages worth of notes for a 2000 or 3000 word essay. It will be pointless. Make sure you get your arguments and back them up effectively. It is important to be able to explain your point clearly, present the reader with the opposite view and rebut it in order to strengthen your point even more. Use short and clearly structured sentences.
- Organise the information the way you understand it: Whilst doing your research do not copy and paste what you are reading as this is a mere passive way of organising your notes. Whether you are reading a textbook or academic literature, read a page, close the book and try to summarise it in your own words. You can use pie charts, diagrams, flashcards etc. Of course, if it is coursework, make sure you reference your resources in order to avoid plagiarism.
- Create your drafts: Once you have collected all the information you need, start typing. You will need more than one draft for your assignment if it is coursework. If it is an exam, essay planning is essential as there will be an amount of information and limited time during an exam. Once you have completed your drafts or your essay plans, revisit them to make any amendments. It goes without saying that if you are preparing a coursework, you need to check it for spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Be positive: Exams and coursework can be demanding and stressful. Whether it is an exam, a group project or a presentation make sure you smile and take it easy. There is nothing worse than getting really worried. Smile and say, “I can do this!”.
- Ask for help: In case you are struggling, you can always ask for help. Email your lecturer, tutor, personal tutor or get in touch with SPLASH to help you with any questions you have got. There are many people on campus who can and will help you with a number of things such as critical writing, referencing and research. Finally, do take any mock exams or tests during the semester and ask for feedback as most lecturers will appreciate it and provide you with useful comments on your work.]
Author: Theo Tananakis.