I know that the title for this particular blog is called ‘Succeeding in your first year for Chemical Engineers Part II’ but regardless of what course you are currently studying at Aston University, I believe that by implementing some, if not all of these simple steps into your schedule, will not only help you succeed in your first year at University, but it will help you be successful in subsequent years as well.
Exam Questions- Practice, Practice, Practice.
I can’t even begin to stress how important it is to practice loads of exam and tutorial questions. There are only so many questions that the examiners (lecturers) can ask you, so the more exam questions you complete the better equipped you will be for your Dec/Jan and/or May/June exams. After doing a couple of exam questions you will find that they are very similar in terms of the content and method, the only difference will probably be that they have used different numbers or different names in the exam questions but the concept is pretty much the same. When you first start doing these exam questions it’s always a good idea to use your notes to help you, but as you grow more confident or rather as the exam date starts to draw closer, you really should be aiming to complete past exam papers without your notes. The reason I would recommend doing this is because in the actual exam you’re not going to have your notes by your side to help you, so you might as well get used to doing exam questions without your notes. Also by doing the exam questions without your notes you’ll probably find yourself making some silly mistakes-which trust me is a good thing! It’s better to make those mistakes now, than in the actual exam itself. It’s happened to me before and I was glad I made some mistakes in some of the exam past papers I completed because when it got to the real exam, I reminded myself not to make those same mistakes again. If there are some exam questions that you find particularly challenging, then get help from other students or drop your lecturer for that particular exam an email or visit them in person- your lecturers will be more than happy to assist you. In terms of when to start doing exam papers I would recommend that you do them little and often, a good one or two months before the actual exam.
Whether you’ve got exams in Dec/Jan and/or May/June it’s a really good idea to start revision early, I would recommend a month or two early because from experience I have found that I tend to recall a lot more information from something that I did little and often over a long period of time compared to something that I spent a short amount of time doing a lot. I remember back at Sixth Form, when I used to search for some good revision techniques and I came across an article that compared revision to watering a plant and I have come to realise that it is so true. The article said that if you water a plant every day or every so often the plant will grow into a healthy plant, but if you water the plant every 1 or 2 weeks, by the time you go back it would have shrivelled up and died, and if you over water the plant it will still die because the plant’s roots would have been saturated with water. The same thing applies to us. If you revise something today and then leave a week or two before returning to that thing that you had revised, you’ll find it very hard to recall the information, so you end up having to relearn the same thing over again therefore not really making any progress-I’m talking from experience here. Or if you revise non-stop for 2 or 3 weeks before the exam, it may help you pass the exam, but as soon as you’ve finished those exams you’ll find that you would have forgotten most of it, if not everything that you spent the past couple of weeks doing. So once again you’re not really making any progress because you have to go back and relearn the content again. So the best thing to do when it comes to revision is to do it little and often because that way the information is more likely to be retained in your long term rather than your short term memory. Different revision techniques work for different people, but some good revision techniques that I would recommend are to re-read your notes once or twice, highlighting any key points and then spend a lot of time doing exam past papers. Completing past exam papers several times is one of the best ways to really understand the module content, which will ultimately help you to perform better in your exams. So to summarize, successful revision consists of 4 main things- learning, recalling, practicing and most importantly being consistent.
Get involved and enjoy your time here at Aston by getting involved in extra-curricular activities. Every year Aston Uni, holds a fresher fair at the end of fresher’s week which is normally on a Sunday and I believe this year’s one will also be on a Sunday, so make sure you attend and join some clubs and societies and I’m sure that you’ll find a club or society that takes your fancy. But if you can’t, that’s ok, just set up your own club or society-Happy days! You could also try getting a part-time job or do some volunteering work. These are all great ways to gain some new skills and boost your CV.
By the way Aston Uni is currently recruiting Student Ambassadors for 2014/15, so if you’re interested in representing your Uni whilst earning some extra cash on the side visit: Aston University Student Ambassador Scheme The deadline for submission of applications is midday (12:00) on Friday 17th October.
Reward yourself for all your hard word-Go on, you deserve it 🙂
University is not all about work, work and did I mention work? University is also about letting your hair down and having some fun before you go into the big corporate world of work, work and more work. So make sure that you treat yourself every now and again for all your hard work by doing whatever makes you Happy. Have fun this year and I wish you all a very successful and enjoyable year at Aston University!