We are now more than halfway through October and while your freshers experience may have not lived up to the expectations, our priority at university nonetheless is studying. I am currently in my final year of university and as someone who did not by any means have a smooth sailing academic experience I have learnt many lessons which I wished I knew when it came to navigating studying at university. For a lot of people their first year is worth a small percentage or nothing at all to the final degree classification and use it as an excuse to get complacent. However, the final two or three years of a programme do count for a lot more and the first year is your time adjusted and get up to speed with the academic rigour of university. If you nail down how to study and get good grades early on then the final few years of your degree that count a lot more will be much easier.
Get to know the mark scheme for your degree programme.
You will have received guidance on how examiners mark your work and it will not make much sense to you. The way to understand it quicker though is to look at pieces that received first class grades and try to mark it using the mark scheme and slowly you’ll be able to see what constitutes a high level essay. This is key for essay based subjects. Attempt to mimic the same narrative style. It will take awhile for you to develop your own confidently but for now familiarise yourself with what a good essay looks like.
Make bullet point summaries for your readings.
Much of first year content is introducing you to the fundamental thinkers and ideas of your subject and you will not be familiar with them all. Whilst many say highlighting key words and phrases help understand a topic or idea better there’s no actual evidence it does. Moreover with the amount of reading you may have to do it will sometimes go over your head especially at times when it gets quite dull. This is how you end up with a seminar full of people who did the reading but have little understanding about what it was really about. While it is true you may not fully grasp the thoughts and ideas straight away and avoid passively receiving the information, it is not a good use of your time either. Remember productivity is about getting the maximum output from minimal input. Don’t just do the reading for the sake of having something to waffle about when you get picked on by the seminar lead, make a summary of the unique points made along with what you didn’t understand to then bring it up with them and consolidate your own learning and critical engagement. This will also be much more beneficial resource to you come exam season.
Once you’ve received feedback for an assessment actually go to your lecturer to discuss it
Essay comments on a Turnitin page are not enough, especially not when you’re paying £9,250. Go to your lecturer whether you did well or not. Understand WHY you got the grade that you did and not higher or lower. Again going back to my first point, it will help understand the mark scheme better and enable you to elevate your grade more confidently as these conversations will give you better insight to what the formula is for a high grade.