Top ten tips for preparing for an assessment

No matter what year of university you are in, you will definitely have a variety of different types of assessments throughout the year. Here are ten brilliant tips to help with time management, motivation and getting that initial kick-start.

1. Start early!

Whatever type of assessment you have looming it is always a good idea to start early! There is nothing worse than leaving it until the last minute and realising you have run out of time to begin properly planning. Starting early and doing small sections of work every few days is so much easier than doing it all two days before. Don’t let the pressure of the deadline be your motivator, using these tips find a new way of motivating yourself that doesn’t leave you stressed and leaving the assessment until it’s too late.

2. Remove distractions

Whilst Netflix and Facebook are staples in most university students’ lives it is important to know when you are getting too absorbed in what you are watching or looking at, that you are no longer concentrating on your work. Once you realise the best thing to do is to turn it off. Some of you may be thinking, I find it impossible to study in silent, this is where coffitivity helps. Coffitivity is a website that recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better. Nowhere near as distracting at Netflix but doesn’t leave you sat in total silence.

3. Plan ahead

To make things easier on yourself it is always easier to plan ahead and get everything you need done than try and wing it. As soon as you know when the deadline or exam date is, make a list of everything you need to do in preparation.

If you have several deadlines or exams around the same time get some coloured pens and highlighters and write out every assignment/exam title, when the deadline is and everything you need to do for it. This could be writing a plan for an essay, doing a practice, or making a list of books you will need to read beforehand. For exams practice papers are never a bad idea, especially when combined with writing a list of revision topics and ticking them off as you work through them.

4. Make it interesting

Not every topic you get assigned to work on will be interesting, but there are ways to make it interesting. For instance, find a particular element of the subject that you enjoy and start by focusing on that topic. That way you will be able to begin focusing on your work without feeling like you’re hating every minute of it. Another way of making it interesting is breaking it down into sections and after each section you do you get to reward yourself in some way, whether that being taking a break or getting to go on a night out with friends.

5. Organise your study space

As the saying goes, a tidy room a tidy mind. You’re not going to be able to focus on your work if your study space is covered in magazines, books, and all sorts of random items. Before starting your work make sure the area you are working in is tidy and will give you a lot of room to spread out your work and will not leave you feeling confined to one small space. If you’re not much of a tidier find somewhere that is tidy already, such as the library or even your kitchen table.

6. Study with friends

Studying with friends always makes assignments and revision seem a little less daunting. With other people around you working on their own assignments it puts you in the right frame of mind to begin tackling your work. They are also there to help if you are struggling with a particular topic. Just remember not to copy each others’ work as this could lead to collusion.

7.  Take regular breaks

When studying, it’s important to concentrate and get a lot done but you also don’t want to study for too long. Studying makes your brain get fatigued and after a while it needs a rest. 90 minutes is probably the maximum you should go before taking a 10 minute break, and usually 60 minutes is enough. During your break make sure you relax and even stretch your legs if you feel like you’ve been sat down for too long. Don’t over-do studying/working because it will become ineffective the more tired you get.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It is never anything to be embarrassed about or nervous to do, as everyone will be struggling with something at some point and need help. It is always best to go to your seminar tutor or academic advisor if you are really struggling as they will be able to give you the correct guidance you need. Friends are there for you too! Your peers on your course may be struggling with the same things too, but when working together you might find things become more clear.

9. Snack on “brain food” and drink water!

Vegetables, fruit, peanut butter and coffee. These are four of the best foods to eat and drink when studying. This is because the fruit, vegetables and peanut butter contain important nutrients, vitamins and healthy fats which will keep you feeling fuller and energised for longer.

Water is a must have when studying too! Staying hydrated will help keep you feeling energised and more awake too!

10.  Reward yourself

Don’t forget to reward yourself for your efforts! After a grueling assignment is completed make sure you do something to reward your hard work, such as spending time with friends, going to the cinema, or even having the luxury of just doing nothing. Even if the reward is small, make sure to acknowledge all the hard work you’ve put into your assignments and exams as we all know they aren’t that easy.