You all should have completed your first week of lectures by now. I hope you enjoyed them and made some friends on your course. Chances are, your first assignments will have been launched during your first lectures – if not, expect this very soon. For each assignment at University College Birmingham, you will be given an assignment brief (these can also be found on Canvas on the module page). These assignment briefs are basically your key to passing or failing a module, so it’s important you read them carefully and get help if you don’t understand something you have to do.
It’s important you know exactly what you need to do. Learn the difference between having to compare, justify, explain, etc. If you’re not 100% sure on what to do then ask, because doing the wrong thing could result in you having to resit.
Not all, but most lecturers will post some kind of marking criteria onto the module page. Read it and live by it, because if you do everything on that marking criteria, it’s going to be pretty hard to go wrong.
This is very obvious but don’t leave assignments until the last minute. During my first year, I was having way too much fun and leaving my work very late. When my second year came around, I decided to get my act together and work a little each week, and I saw a MASSIVE improvement in my grades.
Plan! I remember in secondary school, my English teachers would always tell me to plan my essays but I never listened. I now understand where they were coming from! The essays and reports you are going to have to write in uni are going to be very long, and without a plan you will lose your train of thought and waffle. Waffle is not good! Having a plan also ensures you hit all the points you need to get those grades.
Be organised. Know what you’re doing and when. Not knowing what you’re doing is when you will begin to procrastinate. Procrastination is one of the main reasons I don’t end up studying – instead I’ll just sit around wasting my time. If you find you’re procrastinating, try to make some clear, manageable to-do lists that you can tick off.
Stay on top of chores and errands. If you have lots of uni work and housework to do, you’ll start to feel overwhelmed. Although chores have nothing to do with assignments, you’ll notice you feel more productive and relaxed if you have a tidy house/room.
Back to procrastination… If you’re going to procrastinate, do it properly! Your brain is going to need to rest, so don’t spend this time feeling guilty about not working. Go and do something fun, see some friends – just make sure you have scheduled study time in for later.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Remember that assignments take time, so don’t rush them or leave them until the last minute – you will regret it. If you ever feel really overwhelmed or like you’re struggling, just remember that lots of people are feeling the same. I used to be given an assignment and think: ‘how on earth am I going to be able to do that?’ But it always ended up coming together with a bit of hard work. Remember your lecturers are there to help you too, so make the most of them.