Posted in Intern advice

Essay Tekkers!

Do you have to write essays in your forthcoming exams? The Exams Technique: Essays workshop, run here at 301, help to alleviate some of the concerns and worries that you might have. I sat in on this workshop and will provide you with some of the top tips that were mentioned!

At the start of the session, attendees were given an article titled ’10 things academics say students get wrong in exams’. It was interesting to see how this resonated with the students. Surprisingly, the article is probably something that we can all relate to and, sure enough, students identified mostly with using rehearsed essays answers and time management during the actual exam. Having a lack of analysis in your answer was also a problem – 301 has that covered too!

Each semester we run Critical Thinking workshops so make sure you keep an eye on the website and book up nice and early for one! It’s good to know, and reassuring, that these are problems that students all over the country are facing – not just you! Hannah and Mike, the workshop tutors, would cover these issues along with the following: Discussion of common issues, Understanding exam questions, Strategies, What examiners are looking for and finally (and perhaps the most important!), top tips!

How much time should you allocate to answering a question in a 1 hour exam? Well, this will obviously depend on what faculty you are in, but for Arts and Humanities it was felt that 5-10mins should be allocated to reading the question, planning and reviewing your answer respectively, with the remainder of the time being used to write your answer. For Social Science students, it was a similar breakdown.

Then it was time for busting some jargon! A simple group task of matching definitions to key words was not as simple as it looked – and even I had to think twice about some of the answers!! Actually engaging with the words and what they mean was beneficial and in helping us think about exactly what we are being asked to do. Do you know the difference between ‘analyse’ and ‘argue’? Attendees are given a handout with all of this information on and for everyone else, there is an overview pamphlet available the foyer of 301.

Planning your answer was also covered and everyone felt it was helpful to be reminded about reading the instructions and question at least twice. A key tip from Hannah was: ask yourself, “what is the topic and what is my task?” Remember – as well as creating a plan, you can also make lists and then tick each item off as you cover it in your answer.

Essay structures and paragraph structures were also covered – helpful for those who do not have English as their first language, but also a refresher for everyone else! Can we all honestly say that when re-reading our essays, none of our paragraphs could have been made clearer or more relevant to the question?

And finally, top tips! These were all really useful (some may seem obvious, but in the midst of exam stress, we all forget them!) and so I am going to include the main ones here:

-  Don’t necessarily go for ‘comfort zone’ topics

 – Re-read each question carefully

 – Have a snappy introduction and conclusion – make your exam answer stand out!

 -Move on if you get stuck – leave room to return

Before the exam:

- Think positively

- Sleep and eat properly

- Exercise

- Take breaks and relax

- Plan out how to use your time during the exam

Remember: 1:1 study skill tutorials are still available if you need any further advice before/during the exam period and pamphlets are available to take away from the foyer of 301.

Good luck with those exams 🙂 !!! 

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Posted in Intern advice

Mind Mapping

Have you got any final lectures or presentations? Maybe you’re thinking about exam
revision. Well, have you thought about using mind maps and sun diagrams to help you with
these?

Here at 301 there is a fantastic workshop on Mind Mapping where you are given
information about the benefits of using mind maps and when to use them. Not used one
before or not sure how to make it work for you? Don’t worry! As part of the session, there
will also be ample opportunity for you to practice making one that works for you – both as a group and individually.

One of the key things to remember is to create a Creative Planning Cycle – basically, a
storyboard! Each stage is discussed and covered – from being a Dreamer through to a Critic
and critiquing your own work.

When we think of mind maps, we probably mostly associate them with revision aids, and
this is a great source for that but you can also use them for making notes in lectures and
presentations; a quick and handy way of making notes without having to write pages and
pages. They can also be used to organise your time – definitely a plus!!!!

Remember – it is always easier to remember things in chunks and mind maps, with plenty of colour, is a much better way than just plain, boring text! And if you learn better aurally, then there are also VARK diagrams – but I recommend you try mind maps too. Like anything else, practice makes perfect!!!

Posted in Intern advice

Eats, shoots and leaves

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I recently attended the proofreading workshop run by my fellow colleagues at 301. I was eager to find out more about proofreading as my dissertation deadline is getting closer and it’s a crucial time for me to go over what I’ve written and fine tune my work. The workshop includes lots of different aspects of proofreading including; checking the structure of your work, checking the internal paragraphs as well as grammar, punctuation, spelling and much more.

I really learnt how important it is to proofread and how common it is to just see what you want to be on the page, even if it isn’t! We were also reminded of the importance of punctuation for conveying what you mean. My favourite example of this is from a well-known book on punctuation:

Eats shoots and leaves / Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Another problem I often struggle with is writing in very long sentences and then struggling to cut them down. One of the exercises in the workshop really taught me how to do this properly, through introducing different types of punctuation. I also learnt about different techniques you can use for proofreading such as reading out loud, printing your work and even reading backwards! The workshop provided me with a very detailed list of things to check! It was also a rare opportunity for me to really put my grammar skills to the test, something which I haven’t had to do since being at school. This workshop really does give you the tools needed to review your work in depth and enables you to feel more confident about a piece of work.

Ali

Posted in Intern advice

Have a Break, Have a KitKat

 

(other chocolate bars are available)

break.jpg

Perhaps one of the most well used study tips is ‘take a break’ but if you’re anything like me, you probably just ignore it. How can you be more productive if you take a break? You are wasting time by taking a break and hence not doing quite as much work… this seems obvious.

Last year the message in the ‘Beating Procrastination’ workshop I attended at 301 was to take breaks. Alice is one of our new Reception staff at 301 and she made a revision timetable template that has ‘take a break’ in some of the time slots so I decided to try it. After all I am the queen of procrastination and have A LOT of work to catch up on.

I dug out my notes from the procrastination workshop and used the ‘pomadoro’ technique. http://tomato-timer.com/ has a timer set for 25 minutes to work and then 5 or 10 minute breaks.

BREAKING NEWS: It actually works. I have been more productive in the last week than I have all year. 25 minutes isn’t too long to keep your focus for and so you focus for much longer than you ordinarily would without breaks.

In the breaks I did the tings I would normally do to procrastinate e.g. tidy my room, clear out my wardrobe, put pizza in the oven etc. Just for the record frozen pizza normally takes around 22-25 minutes to cook so it is the perfect food to slot in between your revision and breaks. On the same note, I recommend keeping a lot of snacks close by. Really helps keep you focused. Also if things came up in my head that I needed to do e.g. applications, send emails etc I could easily wait until the time was up and do it in the break.

I managed to read 3 chapters of my textbook and make notes for a seminar in one day using this technique. My bedroom is now also really tidy incase you were wondering.