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- Use a wall planner/diary/study timetable. Record important dates (eg due dates for assignments, dates of exams/tests).
- Organise folders for your lecture notes; use coloured dividers. Keep related notes, handouts and other materials together. Read course objectives carefully.
- Find a suitable study space - good lighting, comfortable chair. Remove distractions.
- Get started on assignments or preparation for tests early to reduce stress.
- Prioritise tasks - make a list of things you have to do with the most urgent tasks first. Tick them off as you achieve them.
- Build breaks into your study timetable and view these as rewards.
- Work out when your best study times are. Tackle difficult material when you are feeling alert.
Procrastination - Putting things off!
- Clarify your general goals - What do you want to achieve this year? Why did you pay those fees? Ask friends and family, or make a sign, to remind you of your goals.
- Clarify your immediate goals - for example, you need a good mark in an essay in order to achieve your general goal of passing the year's work and gaining a qualification.
- Set a small achievable goal for a set period of study and make a start (for example, read one handout or article or section of lecture notes and make a summary). Write your goal down. Do it! When you've finished, tick off your goal and reward yourself (take a break, watch TV, take the dog for a walk). Gradually extend study sessions to two or three hours, but build in regular breaks. Once you have started you will begin to feel better about yourself and your study.
Preparing for assignments, essays and reports
- Read the question or topic several times. Analyse it. Find the information you need (eg look at textbooks, handouts, journals, Internet etc).
- Skim through the material quickly for an overview. Read the relevant sections again and take notes of the important points. Remember to record the names of author(s)/editor(s), titles, dates and places of publication, page numbers, URLs and retrieval dates (for material from the Internet). Make summaries of your notes.
- Plan your assignment. Think about how you will organise your material. Most pieces of formal writing have an introduction, a body, a conclusion and references. Start to write your first draft, checking the question frequently. Leave it for a day and then read aloud what you've written and make any changes. Fix errors, check spelling and grammar, and ask yourself whether your writing makes sense and answers the question.
- Ensure that you have referenced all paraphrases and quotes (see LC handout on APA referencing). Write a reference list.
- When your get your assignment or essay back, read the lecturer's comments carefully. Use any feedback to improve your writing.