Lifestyle: Productive Procrastination

I’ve moaned about it enough, so you’ll all know by know that despite having graduated last summer I’m still studying. I’ve chosen a career path which pretty much needs a professional qualification, so for the foreseeable future I’ll be entering an exam hall every six months.

 photo Productive Procrastination_zps0ad7ut5z.jpgNot only does this mean I’m an absolute delight to live with (sorry W!) I’ve also become quite the expert in productive procrastination. A.K.A getting shit done whilst avoiding the mountain of studying sitting there on my desk. Here’s just a few of my favourite ways to procrastinate, whilst being productive about it.

“Organise” Your Notes

I doubt it’s only me that simply can’t revise without neat notes, organised folders and a fully-stocked stationery drawer?! This year I spent far longer than necessary printing labels for my notes and making sure they were perfectly lined up when sticking them on…

Clean

NGL, my flat is never cleaner when I’m approaching exams. The phrase ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ springs to mind, though in reality I’m not quite sure that scrubbing at an already sparkling oven is an excuse to put off revision!
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Batch-Cook

This is generally something I do right when I realise I need to knuckle down and do some work. Having a freezer full of easy to reheat meals makes me feel so much calmer going into the exam period, as I don’t need to think about having healthy dinners to cook. My tomato-free bolognese is perfect for this, but I also love freezing stews and casseroles. Anything I can just reheat and throw together with veggies or a salad!

Walk The Dog

Yep, the dog I don’t even have! When I still lived at home, even when I went home during university Easter holidays, I found walking the dog one of the best ways to procrastinate. It got me out of the house and away from my desk, blew away the cobwebs and generally just cleared my mind. If only I could find a dog to walk now!
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Pamper Session

Sometimes you’ve just got to improve your mood. I hit a rock-solid brick wall about five days before my exam, right before the Easter Bank Holiday gave me 4 solid days of revision. After a few tears and choice words I took an hour or two off. I filed my nails down, shaved my legs and did a triple mask facial. Midway through one of the face masks I had a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment – and cracked the discounted dividend model for valuing equity investments!

The ‘Motivating’ Spotify Playlist

This is double the procrastination for me, as I don’t generally listen to music. However it’s definitely something I’ve spent far too long doing – in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve spent longer perfecting the playlist than I have actually listening to it. I either go for silence (or as close as it gets living under the Heathrow flightpath!) or pop Heart FM.
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Bake

I’ve already mentioned that baking bread is my number-one procrastination method, although I remain firm in my stance that this is mainly because it goes a good way to reliving my writing-induced RSI. That said, I also love to snack on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g whilst studying, so baking means I generally keep things a little healthier. Homemade hobnobs have *got* to be better than shop-bought ones right?!

What do you do to ‘procrastinate productively’?

University: Coping with Exam Stress

Now it’s March, all of a sudden exams seem an awful lot closer than they did this time last week. Things are getting serious, and as it’s final year there’s no fixing any mistakes made. I’m one of those people who gets hugely stressed around exam time, I pretty much live off adrenaline – and get ill 30 minutes after my last exam ends (true story).

 photo Revision Stress_zpsri2cebsk.jpgWhen PasTest offered to send over their top tips for beat exam stress, I was intrigued as to what they’d come up with. Turns out there’s some good advice here!

The trials and tribulations of everyday life can get to anyone, but when you factor in revising for your exams it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you’re finding yourself getting increasingly stressed about your upcoming exams, try these tips for handling exam stress:

Look After Yourself

Stress manifests itself in various ways – from feeling anxious to random outbursts of anger – and when the pressure is on it helps to remember a few bits of advice to ensure your head remains in the game.

  • Look after yourself and maintain a decent work/life balance
  • Make sure you have a balanced diet
  • Exercise can be a great way of switching off from the pressures of revision and allows you to blow off steam. If you’re not a gym-bunny then a head-clearing walk will suffice
  • Socialise with friends who aren’t on the same course as you – hanging out with other students can sometimes cause more panic as you’re guaranteed to end up talking about revision
  • Don’t overdo the socialising as you don’t want to lose a day of precious revision to a hangover!

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Last Minute Revision

If we were all ideal students, there would be no such thing as last minute revision and everyone would be prepared well in advance. So if you’re a last minute reviser, how do you handle the stress and dread? Your first answer might be ‘CAFFEINE!’ but if you overdo this it can have the knock-on effect of making you even more anxious and reduce your productivity as a result. Far better to choose other last minute cram-revision methods…

PasTest offer a variety of revision aids each suited to how well you personally respond to learning – there are vLectures, paper lectures, past exam papers, and even podcasts that you can listen to to help you. Perfect for cramming.

Give A Past Paper A Go

Whether you’re an auditory learner or a visual learner, the proof is in the pudding which is why having a go at a past exam paper is great idea – this can provide a real morale boost when you’re stressing over whether you’ve revised enough or on the flipside can point you towards what you need to revise some more about.

Don’t Turn Up Late!

Though you might be stressing and panicking about the exam, this feeling will be nothing in comparison to how you feel if you’re running late for it. Not only is showing up late embarrassing but getting yourself in a fluster before even sitting down will have a massive impact on how well you perform during the day. Plan your arrival thoroughly and make sure to check the traffic before setting off for any accidents that might cause delay.

If you find your stress level is above what you’ve normally experienced, remember there are options available – whether you visit your student support service or GP or just have a quiet chat with friends and family they can provide help and assistance.

 photo Exam Stress_zpsxlvngalo.pngI’m a big advocate of looking after yourself, particularly around exam season. I also have a rule of a ‘treat’ meal, preferably something vegetarian (I had food poisoning the night before a GCSE exam once, so eating meat is something which stresses me out around exam times) the evening prior to an exam. The best tip for me here is to definitely try past papers – it gets you both learning the material and familiar with the exam layout and style of question. Kills multiple birds with one stone I guess!

*Sponsored post in associated with PasTest, however all opinions are my own as always!

Do you suffer from exam stress? How do you tend to deal with it?

University: Getting Organised for Exams

Now in my final term of lectures (sob) I can finally say I’ve worked out what works for me in terms of organisation. And also what really, really doesn’t. It’s taken years of trial and error but I think I’ve cracked it – a combination of organisation that keeps me on track, but doesn’t eat into precious study time. I’m pretty sure, given how my pre-Christmas assessments went, that my revision technique is working out pretty well too. Though I’ll never agree with negative marking…
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Keep Lists

I seriously don’t think I could live without a good to-do list! I like to list out big things – such as examinable content for a module. This is something I started doing wayyyy back in AS levels, going through the specification and ticking bits off as I went – it’s an exam technique that could work for all stages (so to those doing your GCSE’s, get on it!) and it’s super useful. I also like to write daily to-do lists. Seeing what I want to achieve each day really motivates me to get on and do it. And yes, I’m that person who puts ‘clean teeth’ on my lists. We gotta start somewhere!
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Print

I don’t know about you, but I get seriously distracted the minute I open up my laptop. I just absolutely cannot practise exam questions by just having the paper open on screen. Before I know it I’ll have 4 Facebook conversations going, I’ll be debating on Twitter and scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed at an alarming rate. For me it’s all about making sure I’ve got hard copies to hand.

All this printing can get expensive (and annoying – how many times have you been halfway through printing an important bit of coursework when your ink dries up?!) – but luckily Epsom is on hand to (hopefully) change all that. I have to admit I was skeptical when they sent me a cartridge-less printer*, where you should only have to top up the ink once during your degree. Obviously I can’t test the latter claim as that would be a very long review process (plus, y’know, I’m almost finished my degree!) but I have noticed that the ink seems to be lasting better than previous printers. I managed to print a good 20 exam papers and genuinely can’t tell whether the ink level has dropped (should have drawn a line on!). That’s almost the biggest bonus of this printer; you can see the ink levels as you go. No more getting halfway through a document and realising you have zilch! It’s also quiet (no waking up housemates when you’re the one who likes to get up early) and it’s no horrendously bulky or unattractive. I mean, it’s a printer, but as far as they go it doesn’t look tooooo bad. I’d be fine with not hiding it away in a cupboard (the same cannot be said for W’s 3D printer…).

Timetable

Like with the lists, I just like having my time planned out. This is where I’ve changed though! Before I would make pretty revision timetables, with every hour accounted for. Now I’m a bit less prescriptive. I give myself a day where I concentrate on each module – which works now at degree level because each has enough different topics and ‘bits’ so I don’t get bored. Perhaps not the best idea for A-Levels but for me, it works.
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Prep

I like to take a few hours around this time of year to work out what stationery I need to get me through the rest of the year. Flashcards always tend to sell out everywhere come May, I always run out of black pens and paper, so I bulk-buy them now. Keen? Definitely. But it makes me feel much more prepared!

Take Time Out

Trust me, when I’ve got a list with a hundred different bits on, I know that the last thing I want to do is give myself a break. I’m actually really bad at taking time out to relax but when I do I definitely notice the difference. I come back more energised and motivated, and often looking at things with a clearer head makes them seem so much simpler. In the run up to my final year exams I’ll definitely be making a little more time for myself…
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Look After Yourself

And that brings me onto my next point: it’s really important to take care of yourself. Whether it’s making sure you get enough sleep, three good meals or plenty of water, it all makes a difference. You will never do your best in exams if you aren’t well, so these little things can really boost your performance.

 photo Getting Organised for Exams4_zpsfidsmn1s.jpg photo Getting Organised for Exams1_zpsbn8ljcrd.jpgAnd so that’s it, the little bits I’m already doing in my prep for exams. Yes, they might be many months away, but by getting this out of the way now I’ll be all set to start serious revision come Easter.

How do you prep for exams? Do you start early or are you a crammer?

 

University: Goals for Final Year

Despite being a term in, I’ve realised that I’ve not really set myself too many goals for the remainder of university. Whilst I have already given myself plenty of New Years Resolutions to work on, I reckon I can set myself a few university specific targets too. Nothing like aiming high!
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Graduate, Achieving The Best Result I Can

Up until last year I was fixated on the idea of getting a First. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love one, and I know damn well I’ll still be disappointed if I don’t get one – BUT I’m not going to kill myself trying. I have very nearly done some lasting damage to my arm by writing too much, for too long, in the wrong position. I’ve had sleepless nights thinking about an assignment question, I dream about spreadsheets. Whilst I’m going to push myself to do my best, I’m not going to let it be detrimental to my health.

Make the Most of Living with my Best Friends

Not much I can say about this one! I’m dreading the summer when we pack up for the last time as it will be a definite ‘not living together again’ – though I know for sure we’ll be staying in regular contact! Having a gorgeous room, lovely house and the best housemates has so far made final year the best year!

Budget Properly

Whilst I do tend to keep control over my (sparse) finances I want to be doubly careful over the next few months. I’ll hopefully try and write (AND stick to and update!) a proper plan, and it will definitely mean no more sneaky New Look purchases…

Do my Physio Exercises Daily

I was really good at these up until mid-December, but then life got in the way and I’ve found myself sitting down to work without exercising, then an hour later wondering why I’m so stiff and in so much pain. I’m meant to do a couple of exercises morning, night and during the way too – I normally do the morning ones, so now it’s time to up my game a little.
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Keep on Top of Revision Notes Before Revising

I think this was my biggest downfall in second year; not having revision notes even started before Easter. This year I’ve been a lot more on top of it; with two ‘courseworks’ in exam-conditions during my last week of term for one module I managed to get those notes all done and dusted, I’ve done two modules worth so far over the Christmas break, and I’m planning on getting ahead with another module before we start it next week. Perhaps a little keen, but whilst I’m feeling productive why not?!

Cook Something New Once a Fortnight

I often find myself getting into a rut with meals and snacks at university. I have my regular meals which I batch-cook and tend to rely on, I eat far too much carbonara, I stick to pretty much the same baked goods (Nutella Banana Muffins anyone?!). I want to challenge myself to cook a few new bits and pieces over the next few months, I really fancy trying to make a tagine.

I’m also determined to come up with some more healthy snack ideas and recipes. All too often I find myself with a handful of biscuits (and when your boyfriend fiancé demands you keep them in the cupboard on medical grounds it’s not an easy habit to break!). I got a few healthy-eating cookbooks for Christmas so I’m hoping there’s a bit of inspiration there!

Write Some University Fashion Posts

I’m really happy with some of the outfits I’ve been wearing on a more day-to-day basis for uni over the last few months, and I’m also pretty chuffed with my figure at the moment (I went and tried on a certain kind of dress last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by how good I looked – it’s the first time I’ve felt so confident about myself!) so I really should take the plunge and do some outfit posts more regularly.

 photo University Goals2_zpsrujei6ip.jpgSo, some typical ‘study hard’ goals, but also some bits that are more personal, but that I really want to achieve before I finish university and end up wearing a suit each day!

Do you have any goals for the next few months? Any advice for final year?!

University: Study Success

There’s so many different ‘keys to success’ when studying it can be hard to know what to do. Don’t do this, don’t do that, and half the time this and that are the same thing.

 photo Study Success_zpsj8nxvhfw.jpgIAB sent over this fab infographic with their tip tips for study success, and I think it’s great. Everything’s in one place, nothing seems to contradict another, and they are all very sensible and easily-used suggestions;

IAB Top Tips for Study SuccessI’m particularly pleased that organising your notes is in there – that’s the thing I most often advise to new students. I know I for one would be forever behind without keeping my notes organised, taking half an hour to sort them each week really does make a difference.

Disclaimer: Post sponsored by IAB, all opinions are my own.

What are your top tips for study success?

University: On Heading into Final Year

I can’t believe I’m writing this post. It feels like yesterday I was squeezing things into the car, booking train tickets for the two passengers who didn’t fit, and sobbing as my and W went off in separate directions. Now I’m sat in my final student house, just about unpacked and ready for my first lecture of final year tomorrow. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

 photo 2015-08-16 11.02.09_zpshwaq9my0.jpgMy parents live very, very close to a university (let’s just say Fresher’s weekend =/= a good night’s sleep at home!), and driving past last week I was shocked at how young they look. Then I realised they are pretty much closer to my baby sister’s age than mine.  Then I realised that I’m getting old…

When I left to go to university I was both under and over prepared. I took a huge amount of stuff, some of which never got used. I still have a lot of stuff (huge panic when my dad’s car got recalled back to the manufacturer this week, potentially leaving us with just a diddy Clio to get to Canterbury…), so I can’t say I’ve improved in that area. I didn’t really have a clue how to operate the washing machines; now I at least now that if I press buttons my clothes will get clean.

I can differentiate, integrate, build accounts, calculate expected pension income given age, develop insurance claims. Or I could, until I took a year out on placement.

 photo Pump Shoreditch 1_zpsanpm0hx1.jpgAnd that brings me to my major fear for this year. My placement year was one of the best experiences of my life, but can I remember any maths?! Erm, no. So I’m hoping I don’t majorly embarrass myself over the next few weeks. Especially as the studying I mentioned in my September goals failed miserably…

I’m also terrified of walking into my lecture hall tomorrow and not knowing anyone, not recognising any faces. My closest friends do a slightly different course, so I have some modules where I now know very few people. I’ve lost my comfort blanket, and I’m nervous. Deep down I know I’ll be fine once those first few days are over!

 photo 2015-09-06 09.27.09_zpsw14mwfw5.jpgWith final year comes stress. Stress about getting the grades, about pulling my average up following the RSI I suffered in second year. Stress about getting my dream graduate job. Stress about where to live after university, leaving my friends, moving out properly. But I’m determined to make the most of final year. I’m living with two of my bestest friends, I’ve got the loveliest boyfriend to visit on weekends, I’m doing a course I feel enthusiastic about. So let’s crack open a bottle of wine snuggle up with a cuppa, and get started with final year!

How did you feel about entering final year? Or are you still at university – and how are you doing?

University Guest Post: Dissertation Hints & Tips

I’ve done it before, but now I’m hoping to do it more regularly – introducing guest posts here on ninegrandstudent! I set up this blog to help out students and, whilst it’s no longer it’s only focus (it’s pretty much my diary!), I still like to think of it as helpful. Yet my experience of university isn’t going to be like anyone else’s, and with that in mind I want to add a bit of variety. Guest posts are perfect for that, and this one is great. I’m lucky enough in that my degree doesn’t require a dissertation (school friends only need to remember ‘EPQ’ and they will understand why I don’t wish to do one!), but many students do need to do one. I wouldn’t know where to begin in advising students on how to approach one, so when Josie from Confessions of a Postgrad offered her guest post, well, I couldn’t say no!

 photo Dissertation Tips1_zpsfst0dvmu.jpg photo Dissertation Tips10_zpsdjgtumpa.jpgAh, the dissertation, that terrifying culmination of your university studies which is hovering over your summer threatening upcoming stress and many sleepless nights of typing. If you are due to write your dissertation this year, don’t fret! It is honestly not as bad as you think, and you will end up being very proud of it. As I embark on my second dissertation for my Masters, here are my tips for making the experience as pain-free as possible:

1. Just start. I know, the thought of producing your longest and most important piece of work yet is seriously daunting. So much so, that you can stress yourself out wondering where to even start. The best thing you can do is not worry about starting in the right place, or with the right information, but to just not overthink it and just start. Pick up any book relevant to the topic and start making notes.

2. Start early. Expanding on the above, you will be doing yourself a huge favour if you start your research nice and early. Trust me, this will reduce the pressure later on when you have other assignments to complete as well. Why not use the free time you have this summer to start compiling a reading list? Once you have found one book, a good place to look for further reading is in its bibliography.

 photo Dissertation Tips9_zpsvoogyxkv.jpg photo Dissertation Tips6_zpsmq3lz0ng.jpg3. Note down references as you go. As you read and research, note down book titles and page numbers in the margins of your notes. This is just 100% worth the effort – it will make your life so much easier when it comes to typing up and referencing what you have read!

4. Break it up. Probably one of the worst things you can do is to think of your dissertation as a whole – this is far too overwhelming and daunting. Instead, split it up into manageable chunks. I decided on chapters for my dissertation and then treated each one as a mini essay on its own – this is much easier to tackle!

5. Figure out when you are most productive, and use this time wisely! Personally I am very much a morning person, so I would get up early and work on my dissertation all morning and afternoon until about 3 o’clock – then I could relax for the evening knowing I had achieved what I wanted during the day. Other people however, prefer to work at night. Figuring out when you work best will save you a lot of wasted time and feelings of unproductivity getting you down.

6. Last but not least, take time out! I know it’s obvious, but it can be tempting to work yourself to the bone just to get in finished quickly. It is so important to take time away from your work, not just for your own sanity, but for the quality of your project as well. And if you have started early enough, you can take the time to relax without feeling the pressure!
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I hope these tips offer some help or inspiration! Do any of you other dissertation veterans have some tips to add?

University: Keeping Your Brain Ticking Over Summer

I know only too well how easily knowledge can seep out of your brain over summer – and definitely how much it disappears during a placement year (I’ve now got my second year notes to go through over the next few weeks!).

 photo 2015-07-08 18.54.06_zpszgtrszq7.jpgWhen Ladbrokes sent me some bits and bobs to ‘train my brain’ I thought I’d really put them to the test. Over the past few weeks I’ve played around with the wooden puzzles, pondered over conumdrums and snacked on seeds. The outcome? I’ve definitely had improved concentration, and I’d like to think concepts are being grasped slightly speedier.

I’ve actually been given some advanced reading material by my boss (from exams I won’t touch for at least another two or three years). It might be a coincidence but I’ve definitely not found it as daunting as I’d imagined! My mind has also been more alert at work, I’ve even managed to correct coding errors for others!

So, my top tips for keeping the brain tick-tocking over the summer?

Don’t Do Nothing

You need to keep your mind busy – so don’t lie around in bed until midday or spend all day vegetating on the sofa. I’m not saying you can’t do this, but just not everyday. Get out, be active, take up knitting.
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Eat Healthily

I was always sceptical about how much impact diet has on brain function – and to an extent I still am. However I know myself that if I eat unhealthily, eat a lot of carbs, have a lack of veg, I feel sluggish and in turn my productivity plummets. The best way to avoid slipping into summer indulgence is to top up on healthy snacks, then just indulge a bit more at meal times.

I’m also yet to be convinced by supplements, but with Alzheimer’s in the family I’ll do anything to keep my brain healthy!
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Read Over Notes

If I know I’m going to be carrying on content the next year, I’ll keep refreshing my mind. Admittedly I’ll only do this over the latter half of my break, but it’s far easier than going straight in with no recollection of what you have already covered.

Read Ahead

Yep, geek alert! Sometimes I like to read ahead a little, grasp a few concepts before I get back in a lecture theatre. I find the beginnings of academic years really tough, so for me this takes the pressure off learning!
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Relax – Don’t Over-Do It

It’s important to get the balance right. Yep, you need to continue to work your brain, but you also need some time out. Chill, unwind, catch up with friends and recharge your batteries. And puzzles are great too – check out Ladbrokes’ other suggestions for brain training!
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*Disclaimer: I was sent a few goodies by Ladbrokes for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.

Do you find yourself forgetting content over the long summer? Do you take any steps to keep your brain in gear?

University: The Art of Proof-Reading

Proof-reading is so, so important. Whether it’s your CV, a job application or an essay it can make or break your sucess. I’ve put together some tips on how to proof-read more efficiently – they’ve definitely helped me!

When you have a deadline looming, proofreading is often the very last thing you do before you print and submit your essay. When there isn’t much time, a quick scan of your academic essay is often all you can manage before it’s time to hand your work in. Yet proofreading is an absolutely crucial task every student should take care over. It should never be a “rush job”.

Why It Matters

You’d be surprised by just how many marks you can gain just by undertaking careful proofreading. Grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, arguments which tail off mid-sentence – when you’re concentrating on writing and feeling stressed, it’s easy to overlook big mistakes which make your essay look unprofessional and rushed.

Taking a couple of hours to proofread your work carefully will make sure you don’t lose marks for silly reasons, ensuring markers see the hard work and interesting thoughts you’ve put into your essay – not the stupid mistakes and typos you’ve made.

Proofreading will also prove to your markers that you have scheduled your essay writing well, given due thought to your work and upheld high academic standards. This good first impression will put markers in a positive frame of mind when reading your work, which often means you will receive a higher grade.

Now you know why proofreading is so important, it’s time to find out how to do it properly. If the tips below whet your appetite and you’d like to find out how to write even better essays at university then check out the latest articles on the Oxbridge Essays G+ page, they’re proofreading and essay writing specialists, offering tonnes of free “how tos”, advice and essay guidance online.

Give It Time

Never proofread your work immediately after completing it. When you’re familiar with the sentences you’ve been writing, it’s very difficult to spot the mistakes you’ve made. Instead of seeing mistakes, writers tend to read what they THINK they’ve written. Leave your work for a day before you go back to proof it to avoid this problem.

Don’t Trust Spellchecker

While little wiggly red lines indicate mistakes, don’t rely on them. You need to read your work carefully yourself as there are lots of spelling errors you can make that spellcheckers don’t pick up. For instance, “to” and “too” are not interchangeable, but neither will register as spelling mistakes if used in the wrong place in your writing. Don’t depend on spellchecking software to find the mistakes, you need to scrutinise your writing carefully yourself. Here are some common mistakes which spellchecker rarely picks up.

Look for One Issue at a Time

A good way to do this is to concentrate on just one issue at a time. It’s not easy to focus on multiple possible mistakes at a time, so perform several re-reads, checking for a particular problem each time. We recommend you proofread a minimum of four times, looking for spelling, grammatical, formatting and factual errors.

Read Aloud

Sometimes it’s easier to identify mistakes when you read your writing aloud. This won’t just help you to find and fix obvious mistakes, it will also highlight sentences and arguments which sound clumsy or could be written more elegantly. Remember, if it doesn’t read well to you, it’s probably going to be confusing to your marker. There’s no such thing as “good enough”, your writing should be as clear as possible.

Get a Second Opinion

It’s easy to overlook mistakes and inelegances when we read our own work. Asking a friend or classmate to read your work can make a huge difference to the fluency and accuracy of your essay. Offer to take part in an essay swap, or take a look at professional proofreading services online to make sure your writing is spot on. This step is especially important for students who do not have English as a first language.
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*Sponsored Post – and the person who wrote it was in charge of the proofreading!

I wish I’d read these tips before – I’ve submitted things with so many mistakes in the past! The worst has been when I’ve made silly spelling mistakes in job applications – though luckily it didn’t stop me being offered the job!

Do you have any tips for proof-reading? Do you have an embarrassing story of a proofreading fail?

 

University: A New Study Mentality

Weirdly, I’m really looking forward to getting back to university and studying in September. I’ve loved my year out, loved my placement, really don’t want to leave. But I’ve missed studying and learning (just as well, with a load of professional exams to do after graduation!).

 photo f4a7e3fe-c616-4e58-a3f6-1396798e8923_zpsjxsxb4xo.jpgOne of the biggest bonuses I’ve found with a placement year is that you gain a whole new perspective on yourself and how you work best. Previously I would have said I worked best in the evenings, but I now know that mornings are when I am most productive. I’ve realised I work better when I have lots to do. I need to write tasks down and tick them off (including remembering to buy milk on my way home). All these things are contributing to me being keen to getting back to university. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learnt into practise, because I know I can improve my study skills and boost my grade up. First class honours, here we come!

 photo 1c0efb13-aaf2-469b-ae6e-0c36504b3671_zpsaxidodgg.jpg“How to be a Knowledge Ninja”* teaches better study techniques, keeping you better focused and able to achieve your best. I’ve always been sceptical about these books, but I really enjoyed this one. I especially liked the section on General Study – it looked at day-to-day learning, lectures and ‘homework’ rather than just revision. The book focusses more on learning throughout the year as opposed to revision – it’s definitely going to be utilised come September, and I’m tempted to order the original “How to be a Productivity Ninja” too.

 photo 282b43e9-89fc-47bd-9f38-637303544520_zpsmyqsxahn.jpg“Lazy Student’s Guide to Revision”* is definitely focussed on the revision side! This is one I really recommend for A-Level students, or even those doing GCSE’s (it’ll be passed over to my sister in a week or so!) as it is pretty basic, teaching simple elements of revision. It looks at identifying your ideal revision technique and how to utilise this best. Simple, but effective – perhaps one if you are studying a different subject or exam style for the first time!

 photo 2015-03-29 17.52.56_zpsw9ke4eu8.jpgThe downside to my placement year? I’ve developed even more of a reliance on the good old cup of tea. Though I have got myself a teapot to restrict visits to the kettle, and taught myself to like non-caffeine alternatives!

How do you revise best? Do you have exams this year or, like me, are you able to spend time enjoying the nice weather? I have to admit it’s been nice to sit in the sun not squinting at equations!