Great tips for adjusting back to in-person study

By Joey (Student Blogger: BSc Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics (MORSE))

How has life been for the first few weeks of the semester? Have you adjusted yourself back to in-person study? For me, not really! I am still struggling with the mode of having face-to-face lectures, workshops, and seminars. I am missing the days when there were only four to five online sessions a week. I just needed to get out of my bed, turn on my computer and attend. No make-up, no proper dress code required. On the other hand, I missed the university so much – course mates, the relaxing and comforting environment, the amazing library…

Here are some tips for you to adjust yourself back to in-person study.

Firstly, get yourself prepared both physically and mentally. After a year of blended or online learning mode, and months of summer break, you should now get yourself prepared for getting back into the “learning mode”. Think about what you want to gain and experience when back to the university physically – establishing new social networks, learning a new language, or trying new types of sports. Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new, you can surely benefit from it. You may learn more about yourself, grow personally or even find a dream!  For international students, pay attention to the difference in weather and environment to avoid getting sick.

Secondly, don’t push yourself too hard and bear in mind to maintain a work-life balance. Usually, you cannot get back into the right mode immediately. Do give yourself some time to accommodate and adjust your pace. You don’t need to force yourself to be “perfect”. It’s alright to be imperfect. Just focus on yourself! On the other hand, do consider the balance between social and academic. Do not make your schedule packed. Remember to leave some time for yourself to think – understand your emotions and the reasons behind them and figure out what approaches you should take to deal with the situations or problems.

Thirdly, grab a daily planner if necessary. When returning to the university physically, I thought I would not need a daily planner at first, but my thought was a mistake! I used to mark all my schedule, things to do on my mobile, and it worked. Unfortunately, I overestimated myself and underestimated the tasks that I was now required to accommodate. If you are an absent-minded person like me, I highly recommend you have a daily planner or a to-do list (daily, weekly and monthly). It helps you not to miss deadlines and make yourself deal with matters more systematically.

If you have come across any issues which are out of your control, remember there is always somebody you can get help from and chat with.  If you need advice on friendships, relationships, where to get information on housing, finances, or academic issues, you can contact the College Advisory Teams (CAT Teams). You can also book a one-off appointment to talk through any issues you have come across through the Let’s Talk service. The service is booked by phone. No self-referral is required.

My online exam revision techniques

By Jojo (Student blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

Online exams are quite new to most of us. The university has set out different assessment formats for different modules. And my exams are all 2.5-hour single setting ones. So, I guess my exams do resemble the ‘real exams’, other than they are open book and involve having to type up my solutions.

Speaking of the new exam format, since it is open book, I have created a new set of revision strategies for myself. By all means, my revision techniques may or may not work for you and your subjects. So please do just see them as advice. And also, since my major is Economics, some of the revision techniques, namely the ones that are most efficient for tackling quantitative questions may not be viable for say an English major student.

I have to confess that I am not a big fan of flashcard revision. However, if you love doing flashcard revision, please do carry on, it may work for you!

My principal method of revision is to do questions, and I am keen to try out a wide range of questions on one topic. As I am an Economics student, there is a lot of quantitative stuff involved, so I always like to try out a variation of questions on one topic so that I can get how exam questions are generally being asked, and try to avoid any gaps in knowledge. So, let me give you an example, say the question asks you to find equilibrium solutions for a function. During revision, I would go through different types of functions, being careful not to do repetitive work on finding the solution of one particular function. The benefit of doing this is that you will have a better understanding of the topic. Also, you are less likely to panic in the exam if different variations of questions have already been practiced by you.

The other thing I like to do is to go through textbooks and PDFs (which can be sourced from One Search or Google). The one thing you have to appreciate is that the internet really does make things easier sometimes. Although we are Lancaster students, we do have access to a lot more learning content on the internet, such as PDFs from MIT, Yale and so on. The point is that these PDFs could help to enhance one’s understanding of the topic. This is because the lecture slides offered by lecturers are only a starting point, and people generally may not be able to cover everything in one lecture, so sourcing other resources to enrich your understanding of the topic is important. Moreover, I can’t stress enough the importance of textbooks, I have a lot of friends who have never looked into any textbooks in their learning (I mean yeah you could still do well if you don’t read the textbook, but…). Textbooks generally introduce and explain relevant topics which you can then build on with further reading. So, if you do have spare time for revision, try to read the textbook.

Revision techniques vary from people to people, and I just offered some of my own revision routines. Like I have mentioned before, not all people would benefit from doing what I am doing, just use the methods that you are most comfortable with and you will just do fine! So good luck!! 😉

Tips to Ace your Online Open-Book Exams

By Leanne (Student blogger: Business Management)

It’s time for the most crucial part of the academic year – finals. For many of us, these exams could make or break our final grade.

During the pandemic, most of us are faced with online open-book exams. At first, this might sound like a blessing, but we’ll soon find out that a relaxed deadline and uncontrolled environment could lead to our long-dreaded familiar friend – procrastination.

To avoid slacking and last-minute panicking, here are a few tips to ensure you’re prepared to ACE your online open-book exams!

  1. Create effective summary notes

I hate to break it to you but… relying on your search function isn’t enough! Creating your own concise and effective summary notes can reduce the time you spend searching through lecture notes. Take this as an opportunity to actively recall important parts of your lectures and process information in your own words.

  1. Apply your skills

Markers will be grading your answers based on how you tackle each question, this is especially relevant in essay-based exams. You should be focusing on forming linkages with frameworks taught in class and building a strong argument.

  1. Take the time to plan

Stay calm when reading your exam questions. Thoroughly examine and understand the question instead of jumping directly into it. Be cautious when identifying theories and structure your answers with clarity (e.g. PEEL answering technique).

  1. Practice time-keeping

A 23-hour submission timeframe might sound ideal until you find yourself being too relaxed during the exam, potentially leading to a lack of focus, discipline and critical thinking. We can combat this by practicing past papers, doing our best to stick to the given time and double checking our answers. The bottom line is: “One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  1. Don’t forget your mental health

Your grades do not define you! It’s important to remind yourself that you have enrolled onto the course and picked these subjects because of your interests. The skills you have nurtured over these past few months will benefit your career and life even if it does not show on paper. Your university experience is a stepping stone in life that guides you closer to where you are meant to be.

With all that being said, I wish you good luck in your online exams and all the best!


I’ve finished my 24-hour online exams. Here’s the tea…

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

I am done with my degree.

It feels surreal to say that, and I’m only able to because the Computer Science exams were held earlier than seemingly the rest of the university’s! Nevertheless, I’ve been there – sat for all 6 of my final, 3rd year Computer Science papers in a 24-hour, online, open-book exam format over the course of 3 weeks, and I’m here to tell you the things that stood out from my experience.

  1. The change of setting is your best friend.

You know that sinking anxiety you get when everyone’s huddling around the door to the exam hall, waiting to be let in? Those 2 tense minutes when the papers have been handed out but it isn’t 11:00AM sharp so everyone has to keep quiet and wait until they say you can flip over your sheets? That intense panic you get when they say “30 minutes left” and you’re still on question 2?

From my experience, these anxieties are all either greatly reduced or completely absent when taking an online exam. You might get the nerves during the buildup, but after the first 30 minutes you realize… you’re in the comfort of your own room (or the library, if that’s your thing). You know this place, unlike the cold, cruel exam hall. You don’t have 8 equally anxious people spaced 2 meters away from you in every direction, and you certainly don’t have hawk-eyed invigilators watching your every move.

To me, the fact that I didn’t feel like I was being forced to do everything a certain way gave me a great deal of privacy, and I was able to focus all that worrying energy into my actual paper. I could get a yummy snack or put on some music any time I wanted, so I felt very much in control. The amount of freedom, flexibility and confidence that gives you works wonders for your mental health and as a result, helps you when you’re answering those mind-boggling exam questions.


  1. You can pace yourself!

When I’m in a normal exam, I find I always have to save a portion of my brain cells for monitoring the clock. “Drat, it’s already 30 minutes, I have to move on to question 4, but I still have like 40% of question 3 to go… I guess I’ll have to skip a few points and come back to this later” … sound familiar?

Having my time limit be a whole day really made me realize how much stress a 3-hour window puts on your mind, and how well you can pace yourself when you don’t have that clock breathing down your neck. You have time to answer the questions to the best of your ability, and make sure that you get those points across clearly. Oh, you’re not in the mood for doing the exam right now? Take a walk and come back in an hour or two! It also helps eliminate situations where you might miss a question or two (speaking from personal experience…) because you have time to double-check your work. Having such a long time period was, to me, truly a godsend.


  1. Surprisingly, they feel more realistic

This last point is a bit unexpected, and honestly might not apply to every course (especially the more practical ones). However, I personally found that online exams feel more like what I would expect in a real-world setting over the carefully orchestrated and contained in-person written exams. In real life, you’re going to have access to your books, your computer and the internet. Recall questions don’t really take that into account and rely on you regurgitating information instead of understanding it. However, because these exams are open-book, and you have your resources ready, the questions are able to focus on your understanding of the material instead and provide a more helpful and realistic experience.

Honestly? I liked the online exams. Gasp, yes, but I felt these were a more effective way to evaluate students’ abilities than traditional exams. I’m glad I got to finish off my academic studies like this, because I don’t think there will come another opportunity like this one for a long while. Best of luck with your exams if you have any papers soon! They might still seem terrifying, but remember that at the end of the day, exams don’t and will never define who you are, so just go with the flow and give them your best shot.

Tackling the Exam Period

By Lucy (Student blogger: MSc Management)

Revising for exams is never an easy process and certainly not one that people want to relive in a hurry. However, exams are generally a part of university life no matter which stage you are at, so it is best to be prepared for them. Exam revision can be very stressful. Many of us face obstacles such as a lack of motivation or uncertainty about what is expected of us, but sometimes all we need is a little bit of direction. Therefore, after reflecting on my years of assessment preparation (the successes and the setbacks) I thought it might be helpful to provide some tips on what I found beneficial in easing some of that exam stress.

  • Keep up to date

With an abundance of new circumstances over the past year, including online exams, online teaching and a greater focus on independent learning, it can be easy to miss learning material. Lecturers provide vast amounts of detail in lecture recordings, additional readings and workbooks – so I would just ensure you have double checked the Moodle page. It is also a good idea to be strategic and make comprehensive and logical notes from the pre-recorded materials throughout the year to save time when you revise.

  • Use a variety of revision techniques

When I first came to university I did not know how to begin tackling revision. The types of exams and exam content were different to what I was used to at A-Level, and I often found that trying to replicate techniques I had previously used was not always effective at university level. I learnt that the most effective approach for me was to compile many methods together to ensure a greater comprehension of material such as: re-visiting lectures, condensed notes, cue cards, diagrams and lots of colour. People obviously know what works best for them, but from my experience variety is a winner.

  • Create to-do lists

Often it can be rather overwhelming trying to balance current learning with revision. Making to-do lists can ensure that everything you need to do is written down so nothing is forgotten. Making to-do lists can provide you with the motivation to work towards getting something crossed off, as there is nothing more satisfying than having a finished list. However, one thing I would say in regards to such lists is to be reasonable with yourself. It is very easy to get carried away writing down everything you want to get done but this can often make the targets unattainable. Breaking the lists up into different days can ensure that your goals and strategy work for you.

  • Have a weekly schedule

Again, emphasising the previous point, sometimes we can forget how much time we have in a day to get things done. By creating weekly schedules, you can physically see how many days you have to get stuff done. Mark key deadlines and activities on these schedules so you can actively plan smaller personal targets to work towards. Remember, there are 24 hours in a day – following the 8/8/8 method (8 hours sleep, 8 hours studying and 8 hours for eating, socialising and jobs) often helped me manage me time and my life.

  • Take breaks

Finally, make sure to take some breaks! Having small breaks in-between study sessions for some snacks, exercise (such as walks) or chatting to friends and family is really important. The Pomodoro method of 25 minutes studying for a 5-minute break often keeps me focused but ensures I don’t burn myself out. Looking after your health and well-being is a number one priority when undergoing stressful situations, and by having breaks it allows for a change of scenery while also making it easier to focus on your return.

Best of luck to everyone in their assessments and examinations, I hope these tips can be of assistance to anyone who is feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost. You can do it!

Taking the First Step Outside

By Azizan Anas (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

As the majority of the academic year is online-based due to the ongoing pandemic, and most of us are confined to a small, limited hybrid space of our personal rest area and workstation (we also call it our bedroom), we often overlook the outdoors. Watching pre-recorded lectures, attending workshops and tutorials and communicating with groupmates through an online platform can all be done from our room now. This can be both advantageous and harmful: a double-edged sword of a learning format.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you went out to simply enjoy the outdoors or do physical activities, that was not because of groceries/commuting?

In full honesty, between March and December I barely did any exercise or went outdoors; most of my time was spent in my uni bedroom, watching lecture videos, attending seminars, doing coursework and attempting practice questions, as well as going to the communal kitchen to socialise with my flatmates. If I got too bored studying in my room, I would alternate the library or the shared kitchen for a change of scenery. Going outdoors or doing exercise, however, wasn’t a part of my routine.

One day, I saw an Instagram Story by the Malaysian Society about the 27 27 challenge, organised by the charity Mind. The challenge was to run 27 miles in 27 days during March 2021 while fundraising in solidarity with the 27% of students who report mental health issues while in university. It was a perfect opportunity for me to move on from my sedentary lifestyle. I was trapped in my room most of the time for the past 2 months simply because I didn’t find any incentive to go outside. It was too cold at that time since it was still the Winter season.

My coping mechanism to relieve stress has changed. From resorting to binge-watching Netflix while eating snacks as a form of unwinding from work – to now going for a short jog around campus. I feel much more satisfied and happier being able to take care of my physical wellbeing as well as my mental wellbeing while at the same time running for a good cause. There are plentiful benefits associated with going outdoors and doing physical activities such as improving your sleep pattern, improving your physical and mental wellbeing, reducing stress and so on.

The first step is always the hardest, but the following steps are easy to follow if you pass through the first obstacle. Exercise can lead to feelings of satisfaction, a sense of achievement, and being more cheerful. All that can be part of your day, you just need to take a step away from your room. All it takes is the willingness, and strength to go outdoors. What is important is to develop a sustainable habit that can help you to achieve this.

Go out and take a walk 15 minutes each day for a week; force yourself if you have to. The key to a successful sustaining habit is not to expect an immediate outcome but rather to see an improvement of at least 1% each time. It is no use to all of a sudden go for an extreme distance/time that you find too challenging, putting yourself off from doing it again. It is important to start slowly to make your desired habit of walking feasible, easy and satisfying. Depending on your progress at the end of the week, consider heightening the base mark to a higher level (at a moderate increase). In the end, you’ll be able to take going outdoors as a natural stress reliever full of benefits you will look forward to. You can reward yourself as well to keep you on track (an example is to get yourself a doughnut from Greggs if you walked at least 5 days a week!)

May is the National Walking Month in the UK. Take this as an opportunity to start and grow the habit of living an active way of life. To encourage people to cultivate this healthy lifestyle, Living Streets (the UK charity for walking) has a pledge on their website where they will share with you how many miles you will walk, how many calories you’ll burn and how much CO2 you will save depending on how many short walk you pledged for the week (A short walk is defined as a mile or 15-20 minutes of walking). I believe that by cultivating this habit of going outdoors and doing physical activities, we will be more prepared to take our summer exams much better, and more mentally prepared to engage.

Four tips for motivation in lockdown

By James (Student blogger: BA Politics and International Relations)

Motivation has become an increasingly prevalent issue that I think all students and staff are struggling with at this time of year. When the dark clouds roll in at 4 pm, it seems to be permanently raining, and we are all feeling drowsy and tired with lockdown, of course our motivation will be affected. I know I have struggled with motivation this term. However, I have found a few things that have made me more productive, and maybe they can help you too.

  1. Sleep. Are you tired of hearing about the benefits of sleep? I know I am, but the importance cannot be understated. With the nights drawing in and all of us already feeling tired with lockdown, insufficient sleep will affect our motivation. Who can work when they have no energy?! So, making sure we get a good night’s sleep and getting up at a reasonable time can only help our energy levels and motivate us.
  2. Exercise. Yet again, this is something we all get told to do. Honestly, when I hear the word exercise, I roll my eyes. I do not enjoy it. But, with that being said, exercise has helped me feel more awake through the day and more energised to do work. Even just starting to go for a short 20 minute run a day has helped clear my mind and get in the right mindset for a good few hours of work.
  3. Do not overwork yourself. I know that me and many others are guilty of trying to make up for feeling unproductive by cramming as much as humanly possible into the day. However, I have found out through experience that this only causes tiredness and a lack of motivation over the next few days. So, make sure you don’t cram and wear yourself down all in one day!
  4. Finally, don’t put off work! Honestly, at the start of term, I was very much guilty of this. I would continuously put off work till tomorrow, then the day after, then the day later. This only causes issues as you end up feeling like you are being crushed by the amount of work you must do, which, in turn, affects your mood and motivation to do work. Not putting off work can massively help your mood as you don’t feel behind and this can help you in general with motivation in the future!

I have found that these four key things helped me with mood and productivity during this term; I hope they prove useful!

Keeping yourself marketable

By Will (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Entrepreneurship and Management)

Many of us come to university in the hope that it will be the stepping-stone we require in obtaining that ever-elusive job we so badly want. That degree at the end of years of study, however, is not the only tool in our arsenal of employability that has been building up throughout our time in further education. Societies, volunteering, sports, you name it, students do it in some capacity or another. However, with extra-curricular events largely embargoed due to COVID-19, we have all lost out on opportunities for skill development, experience and, most importantly, CV material. This is an issue because, although the world seems to have stopped in many aspects, employers haven’t, and their desire to see us students as well-rounded members of society is as rampant as ever.

So, what do we do? As an Entrepreneurship student I can only advocate what I know, and that is to improvise, adapt and overcome. We’ve all been forced online, so let’s make the most of those online demonstrations of our diverse expertise. These include online courses, webinars and interactive campaigns, just to name a few. The internet is an infinite place, all we need do is show the want to utilise it. I dare say we can channel some of that ‘spare’ time we have inherited by working exclusively online away from procrastination and into employability strengthening activities every few days or so. Grasp something you’re interested in. Still don’t fully understand Teams? I can personally vouch for the hundreds of courses, both at Lancaster and externally, that will set that straight in around fifteen minutes.

In an ever-complex economy, the adaptability and drive you will show by gaining online formal certification will go so far when it comes to applying for ever more competitive jobs. There is much to complain about in the current climate, but I can tell you from experience that those who whine remain behind, whilst those who act push the boundaries of possibility. Yes, our university experience is vastly different than that of anyone who has come before us, but who says it must be less valuable? If we value our time and efforts as much as we should do as students of such a prestigious university, then we should all be jumping at the chance to show the world our talents. For many of us, these talents are best demonstrated through undertaking online courses whilst keeping our end goals firmly in sight. If we allow time to pass us by, getting the minimum amount done in times when opportunities are quite literally at our fingertips, what chance will we have when things go ‘back to normal’ and competition is rife in every endeavour we undertake.

We cannot control the environment, we can only control how it affects us. Turn this largely perceived crisis into an opportunity, I have. It may seem crass to many reading this, but this pandemic has been my most fruitful period in years, with enterprises thriving, perspective gained and baggage removed. Now that hasn’t come by chance. Only by seizing the opportunity to slow down and reflect on my position in the world was I able to embark upon this success. Don’t let life pass you by, even though everyone else may be on the slow down. Be that spark, that flame, ready to burst onto the scene with all these online demonstrations of pragmatism and enthusiasm. Go and make ready to get what you deserve.

The struggle is real

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)

I have often heard the saying the struggle is real, then I begin to wonder; “the struggle is real, so what?” “What are you going to do about the struggle?” “How are you adapting to the struggle?” “Is it making you stronger?” “Or have you given up?” I guess these questions overwhelm us all, especially in this recent pandemic. As human beings, we evolve best by adapting to situations- so it’s no surprise that online learning has become the next best thing for us students. Nevertheless, I hope I can confidently say that, it has been a struggle for us all. It is quite intriguing to know that, this is not only the case for us students but for all stakeholders in our Universities. That being said, I am going to write five simple ways in which the struggle has been real for most, if not all of us.

  1. The Struggle to learn

Let’s cast our minds to a time before COVID-19, we all miss that period, but we could all agree that sometimes learning was a struggle then. It was the time we had to choose between social gatherings and staying in to burn the midnight candle. Now, so far gone, we are in a time when staying in is the best option. Yet, we can all admit that doing other things before study time has become the new dilemma. How do you pick an hour of full time learning over a new Netflix release? Or would you prefer a TikTok video to research work? All the same, it has been a struggle, and trust me, you’re not the only one going through it. I guess this is where discipline overrides being reluctant. You may not be alone, but you definitely could find other ways to make it work. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are able.

  1. The struggle to stay motivated

Motivation is another thing I do not frankly understand, especially motivational speakers. How can they be so sure that what they did will work for everyone? It is not a one-size-fits-all life, because we are all different in our own way and we see and react to things quite differently too. So the subject of motivation is a personal one, however, you have to (MUST) figure out what keeps you going. Obviously it ranges from a variety of things so I cannot tell you what they are specifically. I will however give you this thought; for a second, imagine having all your goals accomplished, the joy and satisfaction of it all- and simply run with that feeling all year round. Trust me, it works. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are stronger.

  1. The Struggle to be efficient

Efficiency could mean anything from organization, productivity, to just mastering a skill. Honestly, it is okay to just stay alive and have some form of routine. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As far as uni work goes, just divide the work load into mini tasks, so you can accomplish them slowly. Little drops of water do make a mighty ocean. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are trying

  1. The struggle for a functional environment

A functional environment is simply a good vibes only environment, one in which you can actively function for being human. It is an environment in which you can have good and bad days. Lazy days and productive ones. And frankly, they seem like bare necessities (jungle book song in mind), but it is sometimes a struggle to find. So in all you do make sure you find good vibes; it makes this whole “new normal” thing easy going. So yes, the struggle is real, but your vibes are good.

  1. The struggle to be supported

A support system is healthy for us all, and could take any shape or form. Personally, I have found that having friends or acquaintances who can relate to you is a perfect balance especially for academic work. What this does is that in the end, these people in your support bubble are there for you, and as humans that is essentially what we need. So strive to have a support group. I have a group of people I go to, from goal setting, and for laughs and it is the best combination of accountability and a social life. So yes, the struggle is real but so are the people around you.


All in all, this Uni thing is hard, and adulting is no joke too. So cut yourself some slack. You are trying to survive a pandemic and gain an education. You are doing just fine. Take a break when you have to, and keep your goals in that same mind space. You will be just fine. So yes, the struggle is real, but so are you.

Studying Online Efficiently (My Style)

By Azizan Anas (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

The rapid progression of technology can be beneficial, while also be disastrous depending on how you use it. As a result of the current Covid-19 Pandemic that’s happening worldwide, it can be seen that technology has played a huge role in students’ learning. More and more schools, institutions and universities are offering online-based materials which are accessible from the comfort of our home. However, this serves as a challenge for some students as being at home means that they are more susceptible to nearby distractions thus maybe more susceptible to distractions. I would like to share my ways of studying online effectively that I have been doing for the past few months.

Building Up Momentum

When you’re in the zone (of momentum), you will find it much easier to focus on the task you’re doing. This means you are able to do you tasks while being ‘in the flow’. From what I’ve noticed to achieve this state its better to do simple tasks such as making your bed or cleaning up and removing any possible sources of distraction before engaging in any online learning.

Preparing A Dedicated Workspace

By having our own dedicated workspace area to do our tasks, we can be far more productive (assuming that you’re not distracted). So, whenever you are in your workspace, your brain will recognize and remember that you will be doing work turning on your ‘working’ mode. This is much better than doing our work in different parts of the house where there could be other distractions such as people watching TV or talking with each other.

Have A Rest

It is essential to give yourself some rest, for both your body and your brain. The reason is that if we go on for a 2hours straight studying, our brain may feel overwhelmed and may not process some of the information while our body may feel tired and our eyes may struggle due to looking to the screen to watch lectures for 2 hours straight. I would suggest giving yourself a 4-5minutes break for every 40-45mins, where you can stretch your body or make yourself a cup of tea!