The Ultimate Guide to Studies
Here are some interesting topics and features to help with that good old part of student life, often known as study. If it sounds familiar, this should be handy. If you’ve got anything to add or would like to see any topics covered, please give us a shout and we’ll see what we can do.
It’s not just for grey old suits in an office, you know. Chances are if you can make it to your seminars and lectures (Ok, most of them), meet essay deadlines, hold down a part-time job and fit in essential hours in the pub, you will leave college with some well-honed time management skills. If you find yourself working through the night in a caffeine fuelled frenzy to get your college work in on time, you may need to look at how you organise your time. Start by identifying where you waste time. Yes, it’s not easy to admit, and we’re not saying you shouldn’t take time to relax your mind as that is essential, but make sure the rest of your day is productive.
Attention spans vary considerably and our ability to concentrate on one task can range from an hour and a half, down to 20 minutes (If it seems you can only concentrate as long as a hung-over goldfish, this will need working on). When you find yourself gazing out of the window or trying to perfect the ‘ruler on pencil sharpener balancing challenge’, this is probably your brain screaming for mercy. Take regular breaks – a short walk, ten minutes on the phone to a mate, a quick fix of daytime TV, etc.
Everyone puts off tasks they don’t like. Just try and remember they don’t get any easy the longer you leave them.
It’s always better to make a start on them – even if it’s just scribbling some notes or organising your files, ready for the next stage.
It’s a kind of active procrastination and it’ll make you feel better – and help to justify a swift half!
Just say no. Or arrive fashionably late at the party. A drink tastes so much better with a finished essay on your desk. Believe me mate.
Ah yes, the trusty list. Still an old fave with time management gurus. Make a list of tasks – long term and short term, urgent and low priority.
Mix them up so that less urgent tasks and those with longer deadlines aren’t forgotten (or you’ll be back to the coffee and Red Bull all nighters.
Simple Study Tips
The key to being organised is knowing exactly what you’ve got to do – that means no last-minute surprises, like finding the info for tomorrow’s essay screwed up in the bottom of your bag.
You’ll need a clear idea of exactly how much work you have to do every term/semester, which pieces are assessed (that doesn’t mean you can ditch all the others) and when they have to be handed in.
Get yourself a wall planner and mark all the key dates in advance – this will show when you can really afford a big night out and when you have put the ‘do not disturb’ sign out.
Develop skills that will make studying speedier: how to summarise, how to extract key information from a book, researching on the internet, quicker typing speed etc.
Most university courses are very flexible, with room for your own choice of topics to study. Pick subjects you find interesting or inspiring, this will make essays less of a chore – some people even enjoy them!
As part of your revision, look at as many previous exam papers as you can and actually answer the questions in the allotted time.
The Night Before
Steer clear of all-night revision. Your brain will be frazzled by the time you get to the exam. You’re far better off with a good night’s sleep. Take the last few hours before bedtime for something relaxing to clear your mind of all those facts (don’t worry, they will still be there in the morning!
On the Day
Have a good breakfast and whatever you do, don’t read your notes on the bus on the way to the exam. Sorry but it’s too late for new knowledge and it’ll only send you into a panic.
During the Exam
Read the Question
In fact, read all the questions before you start answering any. And then read them again.
It sounds obvious but you need to make sure you know exactly what you are being asked. Jot down notes as you go through.
Watch the Clock
Work out exactly how much time you can spend on each question, then take five minutes off for reading through and amending.
Presentation is still important, even under timed conditions. And yes, it always helps if the examiner can read your answer… Make sure your name is on every page.
I know, it’s easy for us to say, we’re not sitting the exam but it really will help if you tackle things as calmly as possible. If you feel yourself panicking, pause, take some deep breaths and start on the question you are most confident about.
After the Event
Lengthy post-mortems are a no-no. If you ask other people what they put, it’ll only send you into a flying panic if your answer wasn’t the same.
Patience my friend, you’ll find out how you’ve done soon enough.