My exam preparation tips

By Tsz Yan (Student Blogger: MSc Business Analytics)

Examinations are a difficult issue for us as there are a lot of things to understand and remember before the exam period. So, I am here to suggest a whole set of steps that can be taken during the academic year in order to make the final revision period easier.

  1. Prepare study materials before the lesson

Our lecturers usually upload the teaching material before the lesson. You should read these materials and have a brief understanding of their content. Therefore, you can catch up with what the lecturer says during the lesson.

  1. Take notes and ask questions during the lesson

It is important for all of you to take notes during the lesson. Not only can this help you to pay more attention to the lesson, but also help you to have a better understanding of the teaching material. If you have any questions about your understanding of materials, don’t hesitate. Just ask the lecturer politely and they will be happy to answer your question.

  1. Study after the lesson

The first two steps are just basic steps you should follow. If you want to have better preparation for the exam (i.e. achieve a better result in the exam), you should concentrate on this step.

After the lesson, you should tidy up all the notes you made. If you find that there are some important things missing, just listen to the recording again to catch up on what you missed. If you have any questions on the topic after reading all the notes you made, ask your classmates and ask the lecturer if needed.

Also, in order to have a better and deeper understanding of the specific topic, it is important for you to do further reading using the textbooks and/or articles that the lecturer recommended. These further readings may also answer some of your questions on the topic.

Finally, you should make a complete set of notes for each topic (combining the notes you took during and after the lesson, the additional information and/ or knowledge from textbooks, articles, as well as some explanation you obtained from your friends and/or the lecturer).

If there are any after-class exercises or case studies, you should also complete them at least once to make sure you have fully understood the topic.

  1. Study in the revision period

After you have completed the above steps, life will become easier in the revision period. During this period, all you need to do is just go through the notes you made and the after-class exercises or case studies you have done. Keep asking yourself questions related to the topic during revision. The more questions you can answer, the more confidence you will have for the exam.

The above four steps are my process of preparing for the exam. I hope these steps will help you to achieve a good result. Good Luck!

Lectures? Seminars? Get ready with university!

By Jojo (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

Ever wondering what a lecture is like? You might’ve already tried out some during taster days or other events, but you never really tried it for “real”…

At Lancaster, you should expect your lectures to be about 200 students in size, and depending on your course and year of study, your contact hours vary (so if you’re majoring in engineering, then you will have tons of lectures, seminars and laboratory works… Go suffer! Only kidding).

So say myself, an Economics major student. In my first year, I had six hours of economics’ lecture hours in total every week, three for one module, and three for the other. You may enjoy your two hours classes at A-Levels, but trust me, two hour lectures are “not fun”!! Reason is simple – at university, the pace that the content is taught is mind-blowing! It is quite amazing that in the first year of university, we actually learned all of A-Level stuff plus things beyond that within one academic year…So make sure you are prepared to do the work!!

So exactly how are lectures taught? Well, they are just like your ordinary lessons (but a lot bigger in size), except that you may want to listen to the lecturers and make notes of what they said, instead of writing down what’s on the PowerPoint. Firstly, it is a complete waste of time, secondly, you will never have the chance to write everything down on time (you can always look back through the slides and make notes in your own time, or just print them, they will always be on Moodle). Oh! You should also expect that the lecturers will chuck an 85 slides PowerPoint in a two hour lecture 😉

Lancaster is doing something quite interesting with lectures, they actually change lecturers every so often. This is to allow the experts to teach intellectually challenging content to students. For myself, we changed lecturers every six weeks. And the teaching received so far is quite promising, you should expect the lecturers to know “everything”. But also bear in mind, they (university and your department) value your feedback, so if you found their ways of approach are not your favourite, please do tell them and don’t just skive off the lectures, they are very important!

Ok, so we have talked about a 200 student sized lecture, but what about smaller classes, are there any smaller classes? Yes, universities most certainly do…

They are called seminars, a.k.a workshop; tutorial; or sometimes you may see yourself having a clinic (of course, laboratory workshops are slightly different…) I do agree that they are confusing, but they do have the same purposes though — giving you the chance to express your ideas; doing the work required to succeed in your course; giving you the opportunities to ask complex questions to your tutors etc…

It is also the case you may find it easier to make your new “major” friends in seminars (that is, the friends that do the same major as you). These friends can be very helpful, i.e. you may want to study with them, share thoughts, revise together, hanging out etc.

Before you go to the seminars, you are expected to have done all the preparation work, because seminars or workshops are not actually lessons (I thought they were, I was wrong, so I’m telling you right now…), they are a period of time when the tutors assess your understating of the content, as well as helping you when necessary, so they are not teaching you anything new, they are actually discussing the topics with you. So you should see it as opportunities to consolidate your understanding, as well as developing your critical thinking.

That’s it from me! A huge congratulation and welcome for getting into Lancaster. You will not regret of joining this brilliant community, with internationally recognised excellence. And good luck with your future study!!

Bon Courage!! 

Essential study tools

by Ruth (Student Blogger: BA Hons History)

‘Essentials’- it’s a tricky place to start, as everyone has different tools, tricks and tips that they use for studying. But if you’re reading this hopelessly, scrambling for some sort of list to follow, in order to know at least a little of what to get, I hope this helps.

Paper and Notebooks (specifically A4 spiral bound ones)

Now, this may seem obvious but bring paper to uni. Many students underestimate the amount of notes you will make at university. While, you may be dead set on making your notes solidly only using your laptop, don’t underestimate the power of the pen and paper. I find it easier to make notes and follow lectures by physically writing it down. The words flow better and it is quicker to correct. This is why, the first essential has to be a serious amount of paper. Either in notebooks or folders, whatever you prefer. And of course, a bucket of pens to go alongside.

Coloured paper/pens/whiteboards

These are a lifesaver. Having something colourful to write on or write with is so helpful and brightens up revision and lecture notes. I personally suffer from dyslexia and this can result in a degree of sensitivity to a black and white page. Hence coloured paper, especially muted colours such as pastel blue, green or purple are a brilliant backdrop for planning essays, mind maps and writing key notes. Coloured paper is so helpful that, during revision last year, I bought coloured whiteboards. These muted coloured boards were so useful to study off as they not only lessen the glare that white paper and boards often have, but small whiteboards are endlessly helpful for revision. They are now something that I, and now after using mine, my friends, recommend massively. Although at the start of the year revision might not be something to focus on particularly, it is still important to have it at the back of your mind. Especially as some courses do regular tests, which can be intimidating without the right tools. Having a whiteboard enables you to go over key pieces of information again and again in different ways. And it also helps limit the destruction of the rainforest by not using endless amounts of paper.

Laptop- with all the software

Use this blogpost as your reminder. Take advantage of all the software you are offered by the University. One of the main software options they offer is global autocorrect, which spell checks any word you type on any application used on your laptop. This is so useful for emails and anything typed on the internet. There is also Read & Write Gold, which reads word documents and chunks of text out loud to you. I like to use this specifically for essays as getting the programme to read it out load is a way of checking sentence length, punctuation and grammar. There are so many different types of software that are on offer. Check what is out there and what caters to your particular needs.

These are the things, I only managed to get together a few months after university had started, that I wished I’d got organised before. As a result, I hope this list helps you be more organised, ready for the start of university….

Adjusting to university life

by Catherine (Student Blogger: BSc Computer Science)

The adjustment to university life can be testing. You may think you get enough lectures at home, but at university you will have several lectures a week. It is important to aim for full attendance. That being said, if you miss the odd one, whether you’re ill or don’t remember any of last night after receiving an iconic Sugarhouse stamp, you won’t spontaneously combust. Just don’t let it become a regular occurrence. You will want to be able to enjoy your free time rather than spending it catching up and struggling to resurface from a sea of lecture notes.

Sometimes lectures can feel fast-paced and you’ll want to rush to write everything down. Don’t. Your hand won’t thank you for it and when it comes to revision for exams most people can’t revise from hundreds of pages of scrawled notes. It may take some practice, but try to note down any key points or formulas as well as anything you find interesting and would like to study further outside of the lecture.

Make a study schedule and stick to it. This may not sound very appealing as you’d much rather spend your free time on your hobbies or hanging out with friends. The extra time spent going over work will make you understand lecture content more clearly and make your future work easier, thus you will find your course material more enjoyable. You will also feel more confident in your abilities and will be saved from cramming in too much work in the weeks leading to exams.

If your course has some coursework elements, work these into your study schedule and try to start as soon as the task is set. Before you begin you can’t be sure of what issues you may encounter or if something in your personal life might set you back a day or two. Starting work the night before its due leaves you with a very short timescale to correct any errors, meaning your grades won’t be as high as they could have been had you started earlier.

You may feel well-prepared for the term with your colour-coordinated folders and more pens than students in the Gregg’s queue at lunch time, but don’t forget to consider your mental preparation. You will be more engaged in your lectures if you had a refreshing night’s sleep and feel confident for the day ahead; if you have any issues with your mental well-being contact your college’s welfare team.

At the beginning of your first year you will be appointed an academic advisor, who you should meet regularly to discuss your academic progress and any issues you are facing. Get to know your lecturers also. While it is difficult for them to remember everyone by name, if you make an impression they will know who you are. Engage in their lectures by answering questions and if you’re struggling, ask some of your own; feel confident in yourself to do so. If you get an answer wrong you may feel embarrassed, but you have no reason to be; chances are some of your fellow students would have answered the same, and so long as you didn’t accidentally call your lecturer ‘mum’ no-one will take much notice.

University is more mature and fast-paced than previous education; finding a good balance between study and leisure and having confidence in yourself are the keys to success.