Tuesday, 12 April 2016

11 Tips on getting through a university assignment or essay

As I've been in university for over six months now and I've done quite a few assignments and essays. I thought I'd give you guys some tips for getting through assignments and essays. I hope these tips can help some of you guys who go to university or college or even school. Let's get started.

1. Don't freak out! Stay calm
This might be a little obvious but you'd be surprise many people freak out, including myself, when they get an assignment. Especially when it's like a 2000 word essay or just an assignment where as soon as you read it you just think 'How on earth am I going to be able to do that?' The worse thing you can do is panic about it. Just stay calm and read over the assignment a few times. Your teachers will probably give you advice and things you can look at to guide you through it. You may find that it was easier than you thought it would be.

2. Find a nice spot to do your work
This can really help get you motivated. My biggest tip would be not to use your bed to do your work. I know it's comfy and you might feel relaxed for a while. Just trust me, it won't last. Because you're bed is mostly used for sleeping or just being lazy then your body will think your being lazy and it might make you feel unmotivated while you're doing your work. I know it's boring but I like working by a desk. I feel motivated to be working at a desk in a chair and I'm more likely to get things done.
Got to a coffee shop or a library because sometimes your bedroom can be full of distractions and you might be tempted to abandon your work to do something else.

3. Tidy Surroundings
I don't know what it is but I can't seem to work if my surroundings are messy. I remember when I was doing some coursework in school at my desk and all I could think about was how messy my room was and all I wanted to do was just to clean it. It's weird but it actually got me to tidy my room. So I suggest tidying your room or your work space and just making sure everything is organised. That way your mind can just focus on the work you have to do.

4. Books, books and even more books
Believe it or not you have to read books while you're at university to find quotes. I know you can look online for things but your essay or assignment will sound a lot more better if you've quoted from a book and of course explained the quote. Don't just throw in a random quote because it sounds good. Explain it. Why did you put it in there? Does it back up the points your trying to make?

5. Wikipedia is not the answer
We all know Wikipedia is a good website to find information but it is not accurate information as people can change the information which you will be none the wiser if you don't know very much on what you're looking at. Plus your lecturers will not like it if they see Wikipedia in your references. It will just show them that you haven't expanded in your research. You have just clicked the first thing that pops up in Google (which is usually Wikipedia). So yeah don't use Wikipedia unless it's for the sources on the bottom of the page which can be useful in what books or websites you need to look at.

6. Reference!
Now you may or may not know this but you need to reference. If you don't reference a quote or something from a book then that's bad because one the lecturers will know you've just copied someone else's research and two it will be a little suspicious if you don't have a reference list and they will find out if you've copied someone's work. Then you'll be in big trouble and that will end badly for you. So please reference a quote. I recommend APA referencing because that's what my lecturers told me to use. If you don't know how to reference then Google it. If you struggle to reference a website because you don't know the name of a website then just Google 'cite this website'. There will be websites which can find out the date the post was published and other stuff like that.

7. Ask for help
This is one of the things I have not learned yet but honestly it's probably one of the most important ones. Now you make think your lecturers might be scary and will yell at you if you don't know. Honestly though, they actually care about you and will help you. I was terrified once because one of my assignments was a group presentation and I didn't have a group. I didn't tell anyone. I didn't go looking for a group to work with. I actually thought I was going to fail. However, when I finally did have the guts to tell my lecturer I didn't have a group. He was fine with it and said I can work on my own. As soon as he said that I felt a massive weight and a whole lot of stressed that I worked myself up in come off my shoulders. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone to relieve all the stress. Your lecturers actually want you to do well in your assignments. Ask for help. You don't even have to talk to them face to face. You can email them saying your struggling. Even send a draft to them so they can look it over. They contact you for a meeting with them but that's only for them to help you improve. They can even suggested resources which you haven't yet looked at to help you improve. Please though if you are struggling with an assignment. Talk to your lecturer. I promise you they can help you and everything will be okay.

8. Research
You need to do a lot of research. Know what your essay is about before you actually do it. Study on the subject of your essay. If you know what you are writing about then writing the essay will seem much easier. Go online, read some books or talk to someone. Do the research. Make notes on what you find or mark the pages which you think will be useful when writing the essay.

9. Do not. I repeat. Do not leave it to the day before it's due.
I did this one and it's not fun. You will be stressed out and panicking. You do get the motivation to do it because you know it's due in tomorrow but you'll still be panicking and probably having a load of mental breakdowns. Plus you may feel like your missing out because your friends might be doing something fun and you're stuck doing an assignment. You'll also be really stuck if you have no idea what the essay or assignment is about if you do it the day before because how do you think your lecturers if they get an email off you saying you don't understand it. It won't look good. So please do it a month or weeks before it is due.

10. Plan it a little
Don't just ramble on and even start the essay without a plan because all your work may be mixed up a little. Plus it may be a little hard to follow. You might get it but the lecturers might not. So just make a plan of what each section will be about. It will also give you a rough idea on what you want to say in the assignment. I like to make to do lists. Plus if you have a plan you can do the research following that plan and it will make the assignment feel much easier if you have a clear idea of what you're doing.

11. Read it over
When you're finished with your assignment don't just submit. Read it over because you may find a mistake or two. Plus some of it might not make sense. Also as you read it over you may think of something else to put in it. So yeah just read it over a couple of times. Maybe even send it to your lecturer so they can read over your first draft. They may find improvements for you to make your assignment even better.

Anyway, I hope these tips were helpful to any of you doing an assignment or an essay. Good luck and I'll be back on Thursday with another post.

Megan x