Going into final year has always seemed daunting. “Everything counts now” is heard on average at least three times a day which doesn’t make it any less daunting. There is definitely a shift in student attitudes in final year. For instance people are still showing up to all of their 9ams!
Each year at university I learn a lot that I can bring forward into the upcoming year which all leads up to final year. Without wanting to jinx it, it finally feels like I have discovered some strategies that work for me when it comes to preparing for different types of assessments.
Preparing for Exams
Having multiple examinations every semester of university, although difficult at times, has provided me with an opportunity to curate a revision strategy that so far has worked well. I always begin by creating a realistic revision timetable to help relieve the stress of not completing everything on my list.
Then I make sure all of my lecture and seminar notes are up to date, whilst also checking through the notes to highlight important topics. All of the highlighted points from each lecture is displayed in mind map formation on A3 paper.
As it gets nearer to the exam I will complete past papers, mocks and write up questions and answers on revision cards. Often I will get my housemates to somehow corroborate into testing me for a couple of hours a day to really memorise all the small details that will boost up your grade.
Preparing for Essays/Reports
Like some I learnt the hard way with essays that you cant just start them a couple of days or a week before the assignment is due. Well technically you can… But you might not necessarily get a very good grade for it.
Now as soon as the title of the assignment and the brief is posted I begin working away slowly at it as and when I learn about the new information in class. Starting early allows me to complete more thorough and in-depth research and time to well formulate my argument. This method also prevents the build up of referencing as you can do it in small chunks as you go along.
Make the Most of Extra Curricular Opportunities
In previous years I have often said “I’ll do it next year” when it came to a bunch of different opportunities available at the University of Sussex. However I don’t have that choice this year! I have thrown myself into a lot of extra curricular opportunities including student mentoring and being a student representative. You might think this would be a lot to take on in final year, but it has actually just widened my network of connections across the university. Whilst only giving up a couple of hours of your time a semester. The training provided has not only taught me how to help others find information about study resources, opportunities and support but its taught me too!
Changing your Study Approach
I have always been quite studios but found in second year I definitely lacked discipline due to living off campus for the first time. This is something I have already begun changing for final year. It may sound silly, but the best advice I got from another student was to treat Monday – Friday like school days. Get into university early and stay there until 5pm onwards. It helps to create structure and once a routine begins to form it makes it easier to keep on track of your studies.
It is particularly important to have a routine in final year as I am now facing the challenge of conducting a research project (dissertation). I have been looking forward to starting my dissertation for a while as I decided on the topic I wanted to explore very early on. That being said… I had no idea what the experience would actually be like.
I now completely understand why people who have previously undertaken a research project have describe it as a rewarding process. It has already pushed my researching and analytical skills and I’ve only just got started. I will definitely be purchasing a “how to conduct a research project”-style book to help me along the way.
Prepare During Summer
A lot of my summer was spent doing some pre-reading / research for my dissertation. This helped minimise the shock of how much I have to read now. Alongside preparing in traditional academic methods I also completed a short internship in the marketing industry and learnt a lot that couldn’t be taught in the classroom. It was a very rewarding experience showing areas to improve on as well as showing my strengths too.
I am looking forward what final year has in store; I will be making the most every opportunity and challenge it sends my way.
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