Essays Learning Student-made

Five tips for improving your coursework

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The start of a new semester is an ideal time to reflect on how you managed your university load in the previous year. I’ve put together a series of tips that highlight strategies to calmly tackle written assignments.

1. Schedule Progress

Planning your essay and getting started with the process early will make achieving a high mark easier. If like myself, you thrive and work more efficiently under pressure, there is still some preliminary work to be done before you get started. Only writing and proofreading can be left close to the deadline – make sure you leave a whole day for proofreading.

When you receive an essay, assign dates to the following tasks:

  1. Understand what the phrasing of the question demands
  2. Collect reading material
  3. Map essay sections
  4. Read and take notes
  5. Start writing
  6. Finish the first draft
  7. Proofread

2. Work in 30-minute intervals

Students often use tactical strategies in their revision; however, essays are often neglected and seen as an inevitable slog. For my first two years at university, I followed the strategy of staying glued to my desk for extended periods. The reality is that working in 25 to 30-minute intervals produces the best results. A five-minute break doing something you enjoy is all you need to refresh your concentration. Work smarter, not harder.

3. Communicate with your lecturer

Structure your essay based on snippets of information your lecturer has dropped into seminars. This allows you to understand their expectations and makes the marking of your essay easier. Make sure you go to office hours and go over your plan to ensure you have fully understood the question. Don’t leave going to see your lecturer until the last minute, as you’ll need time to implement their advice. Tailor each essay to what your lecturer highlights as important.

4. Be critical

The inclusion of critical analysis and the prioritisation of your voice is a crucial way to succeed in essay writing. Make sure not to simply parrot information out in a regurgitated fashion. An easy way to achieve this is to think thematically. Splitting your essay into themes allows you to think analytically and avoid descriptive writing.

5. Use available resources

If you are a student of the School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures, then you have access to a dedicated academic writing tutor called Samantha Catterall. You can send her material for comment or arrange to meet her to refine your writing ability.

The university also runs a service called Write Bright, which hosts drop in’s and workshops designed to improve specific areas of academic writing. Last semester, I attended a workshop focused on constructing well-built paragraphs. The teaching was extremely useful and the environment was welcoming. I urge you to take advantage of these services because so many students choose not to.

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