Most students find themselves struggling with this question at some point. I, myself, have tried different methods and read a lot of books to understand what exactly is the science behind "getting your studies under control". The last year was especially rewarding, where I applied some different techniques and ended up achieving a 'High Distinction' in most of my classes.
My name is Nageena Kousar. I am a second-year student of a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) degree. I run a studygram to inspire and motivate university students with everyday tips and tricks for optimal performance in academics, and Studiosity asked me to share some of my tips here too.
If you're overwhelmed - that's normal. It's ok.
The secret to achieving success as a student is to 'plan ahead' and stick to your plan. At the university level, most of our subjects include a complex assessment task, which involves loads of research and academic writing (which can be quite daunting for first-year students!)
I remember being completely overwhelmed by my first ever university assessment. If that's you, no worries, I've got you. My biggest tip for university students is to divide your assignment task into multiple stages, and assign the proper amount of time to each stage. Breaking down the task, and customising it according to your strengths and weaknesses, is the key to academic success.
Break down the process
My personal favourite assignment process-breakdown goes like this:1. Start with the task
Oftentimes, the instructions of the assessment task are very complex, and can be difficult to decode. Never rush this stage of the process, as it defines the parameters of what you are supposed to do. Read and analyse the question carefully – understand the discipline-specific expectations. And if you're not sure, ask your lecturer or student support (you can even ask a Studiosity specialist for help understanding a task question).2. Prepare and collect
One common mistake students make after analysing the task, is to start searching and writing straightaway (been there, done that!). Before diving into the actual task, take a moment to brainstorm about what information you already have. 'What have I studied about this topic previously?' Record that information using mind maps on a blank sheet of paper, if you like. Have a rough idea or sketch of how you are going to approach the task.
3. Search and Evaluate
Once you are done with the research, review the question again. Reviewing the assessment task helps decide which information is relevant for this task. This might include:
- Life experiences
4. Develop and plan
Set out the outline of your assignment. This means considering and evaluating the evidence, synthesising the arguments, and importantly, establishing your position (thesis statement).5. Write
At this stage, the most important component is to structure your assignment according to the 'type'. Essays, reports, journals/blogs, literature reviews, case studies and information booklets etc each follow a different structure of writing. Some general principles of structuring your academic writing are:
- Unified writing style, that is, putting a similar argument and its evidence together in one paragraph
- Every written point should relate back to the thesis statement
- Coherence and cohesion of writing style, where ideas flow together
6. Reference and cite
As Scholarly Kitchen said, "Citation is critical; it is the foundation on which scholarship is built".7. Edit and proofread
Last but not least is editing and proofreading. Always follow your assessment guidelines when it comes to formatting your assignment. After all the hard work on each step of the assignment process, the final touch is so important, to create a refined assignment. Nobody wants to lose marks over a grammatical error, spelling mistake or missed reference! Fortunately, Studiosity has us covered at this step to make sure students get the best possible grade by providing feedback on how they can improve their work.
And that’s it, folks! My (not-so) secret recipe to 'taking control of your studies', and achieving the best possible grade.
As a student it's easy to feel like, 'what did I sign up for!?', and that the work is piling up. But if you plan carefully and break things down into manageable steps, you'll feel much more in control and capable of tackling those assignments head on.