7 simple ways for students to keep on top of coursework while at university

Looking for some motivation to help with assignments, reports and exam prep? Don't fret and follow these tried-and-tested tips

Katie Gleeson
Friday 06 November 2015 16:21 GMT

We’ve come to around the halfway mark in the semester and campus morale is beginning to run low.

Now that the Freshers’ ‘honeymoon period’ is well and truly over and assignments are starting to stack up, all you students will be in need of a few tips on keeping motivated, organised and on top of your workload, so you can spend less time panicking and procrastinating and more time in the pub.

So, follow these seven foolproof steps and you’ll definitely be able to juggle both work and play like a pro:

1) Use the university library

Whilst it’s tempting to write your essays from the comfort of your bed, the uni library is the ideal place to work.

Not only are libraries full of excellent resources, they provide an environment which is much easier to focus in than at home where you’re surrounded by distractions like social media and chatty housemates. Particularly for those not living on campus, popping to the library in gaps between lectures is a great way to maximise the utility of your time.

2) Create a timetable

Students often have more free time than they know what to do with, but it’s easy to fall into a trap of time-wasting, where you end up not getting anything done at all.

An easy way to combat this is to create a timetable for yourself - it’s as simple as designating a specific afternoon to complete a certain module’s reading, or a day a week to work on upcoming assignments.

3) Actually do all of your reading

That dull journal article on political theory might be the last thing you want to read when you’ve got three essays from other modules that need attention, but do it anyway. It’s so easy to do the bare minimum in order to make it through seminars unscathed, but readings are set for a reason and like me, you’ll see the error of your ways when it comes to exam season and you know next to nothing.

4) And make notes

Putting in a little extra effort will go a long way and make exams and assignments so much easier. Keep notes brief but detailed, use highlighters on important points, quotations and theories, and always, always, write down page numbers for the most useful bits. Your future essay-writing self will thank you for it.

5) Form a study group

Study groups can be a brilliant tool at uni – they enable you to consolidate your understanding and fill in any gaps, share different ideas and open your mind to points of view you may not have considered before. Best of all, there’s the potential to make some great friends on your course. 9am seminars aren’t quite as painful when your friends are there.

6) Get organised

An obvious one, but still something that loads of students neglect to do. There’s a myriad of ways to get organised, be it an academic diary, a giant wall planner, or simply some sticky notes. Whatever you use, make sure you know exactly what’s due and when, so that nothing comes as a nasty surprise. Keeping on top of deadlines is simple enough to do but will certainly help to make the work itself less strenuous.

7) Ask!

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling with an assignment or even just to understand a certain concept or method, don’t suffer in silence. In my experience, lecturers have been passionate about their topics and genuinely enjoy talking about it and passing on their knowledge. Get in touch with them during office hours or by email, and get as much help as possible. After all, this is exactly what many students in the UK are paying up to £9k a year for.

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