New Year, New…Reading List?

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely festive period and are feeling relaxed and ready for the year ahead.

These first few weeks of term are the assessment period for my course, which means if you have any January exams this is the time you’ll be taking them. Luckily for me, I don’t have any exams this semester but I do have a lot of assignments due in at the end of this week and early next week. I’ve put off doing my essays over Christmas which means I now have to catch up on work quickly. Can you blame me for not doing it all though? I’ve been so busy catching up with people from my hometown and doing Christmassy things I really haven’t had time! In order to make myself concentrate, I’ve come back up to Ormskirk where I find there are less distractions because most of my housemates aren’t back yet. I will also use these few weeks to get a head start on the reading for this semester as I have a ton of books to get through!

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you have a course that requires you to read a lot of books, like English Literature, it can get pretty expensive. But there are ways to keep your costs down. The library has a wide selection of books, however be wary that a lot of people have the same idea so if you plan on borrowing a book from there last minute it might not be available. I buy all of my books second-hand because it’s so much cheaper, and sites like Amazon are great for this.  Also, a lot of older books that are no longer in copyright can be read online or on an e-reader for free which saves a lot of money if you’re studying the classics.

Exam Time

The month of May will soon be upon us and that can only mean one thing…exam time! I have two exams coming up in may, a 2 hour cognitive psychology one and 1 1/2 hour social psychology exam. So I thought I’d provide you all with a few tips for a successful exam period 🙂

1. Revise

This may seem the most obvious one, and one you’ve heard a thousand times before, but as the american president Benjamin Franklin once said “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. It is no good going into an exam thinking you can blag it from what material you do actually remember (if any at all). Doing well on exam requires you to have fully revised all material for the exam you’re sitting.

2. Read the question carefully 

This is a trap I fell into in my AS level History exams, I did read the questions but ended up going off at a tangent and as such failed the exams (I had two, one on Henry VIII and another on Russia during the early-mid 20th century) because I talked about irrelvant information. So the moral of the story is take a couple of minutes at the beginning of the exam to read each question carefully and consider in detail what it’s asking you to discuss.

3. Check your answers at the end of the exam

This is another one you’ll have hear a million or so times, if you happen to finish an exam before it is due to end go back and check what you’ve written matches up with the question and if a it’s multiple choice question you’re happy with the one you’ve ticked/circled.

4. Forget about the exam afterwards

We’ve all been there (myself included), we’ve come out of an exam room and the post exam discussions begin where people ask each other what they put for a particular question which only ends up with some people mentally scolding themselves for not putting something similar. My advice: go home and forget about the exam (at least until the result is released).

With that said good luck with your a-level exams and remember exams aren’t the be all and end all of academia (they are important though) 🙂

1 month left of 2nd year

At the time of writing this blog I now have just under a month left of my 2nd year of my degree! One of my housemates pointed this out to me and my friends on Facebook yesterday and I honestly can’t believe where the past 18 months or so have gone. Before starting my degree my dad once told me that it would fly by and how right he has been. Not only that but according to my personal tutor and my boyfriend (who is a third year) say that my third and final year of my degree will go even quicker!

The past few weeks at uni however, have been hard for me (I got ill and then I hit some problems with two of my assignments so I’ve been stressed to say the least) but I have gotten through it in one piece and I’m at home now for the Easter holidays. The only things I have left to do in my second year of my course are

  1. Write and submit a 2000 word lab report
  2. Sit 2x 2 hour exams in May (One for my cognitive psychology module and the other for my social psychology module)
  3. Wait to hear which dissertation project I have been accepted onto (We’re due to find this out after exams so we can do the necessary reading over summer)
  4. Wait to find out whether I’ve got a place on my optional modules for next year or not.

Anyway I thought I’d end this blog with the below video. It’s a song by one of my favourite singers and which is rather befitting for how fast my degree is going.

Exam Stress

Tomorrow I have an exam for my Writing the Supernatural module so it’s been a pretty stressful week. Exams are always so daunting and scary. However, for whatever reason, I find them a lot less frightening now that I’m at university. This one especially isn’t as terrifying because it’s a seen examination (which means I already know which questions I’m going to be asked), so all I need to is figure out what I’m going to write. This is reassuring, but I still can’t help but panic a tad.

The set texts for my exam are Affinity by Sarah Waters (those of you who read my last blog will know that this is my favourite book I studied last semester so yay!) and The Shadow in the Corner by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I have to compare them in relation to their spatial locations and use of inanimate objects. This is a really different topic to the kind I’d usually write about so I think it’s definitely going to be a challenge, but both texts are really interesting so I’m excited to write on them.

The other part of my exam involves writing a comparative essay of any two other texts of my choosing that I’ve previously studied on the module. I’ve chosen The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and The Weir by Conor McPherson.  For this question, I have to compare the importance of endings in these texts. Endings is a pretty broad topic, so I’ve got to be careful that I include the necessary depth to get me good marks rather than just making lots of different points.

By the time you get to university, everyone is pretty much an expert at examinations. I think it’s pretty hard to have gone through so much education and have never sat a single one. Of course, every subject and module will require something slightly different from you when it comes to exams. For English Literature, I think the focus is on demonstrating your ability to analyse a text in great depth. In my opinion, it is much less about remembering great chunks of information (something I felt very much that I was being asked to do for my A Levels) and more about reading a text and really seeing how deep you can dig in understanding what’s written.

To anyone that has any exams coming up:  I wish you the best of luck! All the hard work will be worth it in the end.