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Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Exams and revision

My top tips for making revision manageable

  

📥  Mia (Business Administration)

Exam results are out tomorrow so after reflecting, I thought I’d share my first university exam experience for my Business Management degree and my tips on revision. First and foremost I DO NOT recommend cramming for exams. It’s not a good idea. Particularly with one day to spare. I’ve never done that…

With Christmas holidays passed, lots of fun had and very little thought on exams, let alone revision, I was feeling happy. Once revision week hit and I sat down to get to work though, I can tell you I was not feeling quite so upbeat. I hadn’t realised just how much I had to cover for four exams. So with eight days to go until my first exam, I devised a plan.

I’ve become pretty good at revision over the last few years and worked out my best way of getting as much as possible done when I was doing my A-Levels. But I’m also one of those people that is far more productive under pressure so you’ll usually find me revising best when I have as little time as possible. However, I feel like my revision plan and tips will work the same whether your limited or unlimited on time (good on you responsible people).

In my opinion, the absolute key to successful revision is organisation and compartmentalisation. Allocate a day exclusively to one subject, and write a list of every single topic that could be included in the exam. Add to this list of topics the key points/ideas in each topic. And, voila, you have yourself a revision checklist.

My second step of revision is topic maps. I grab a wad of different colour paper, grab my 18 assorted colour sharpies (although after good use, only 12 remain) and get to it. I have a map for each topic, and outline or illustrate the key points in each. I aim to fill an entire A4 page but I do have very small writing so if you prefer bigger, double up on paper or invest in some A3. You can make these maps any which way you want, as a spider diagram, as a chart or just a scribbled mess, whatever works best for you. I personally start with a list of definitions for each topic, then divide up the key points and order them on the map.

Essay topic maps

Essay topic maps

The number one tip I would recommend is to use colours. Lots of colours. It sounds ridiculously childish or like those geography lessons at high school, where you’d just sit and colour in maps for an hour (please say I wasn’t the only one who had to do this). But colours really do help you remember things, even if you don’t realise it.

My favourite revision tools

My favourite revision tools

I also find I work a lot better when I hand write things. I type my notes up throughout the year, from lectures and seminars, but when it comes to revision, hand writing for some reason sticks the information firmly in my brain. I don’t know whether it’s from the reading-writing repetition or just the familiarity of my own writing, but it works for me.

Once these maps are complete, that’s the main bulk of your revision done. If you have time, do some practice papers with and without notes. If it’s an essay based exam, write up some essay plans for potential questions based on your maps. You can also make acronyms for all sorts of different information. Or if you’re super short on time, just read through them. I always read through them about 30 minutes before my exam too, especially the parts I struggle to remember, just so they’re fresh in my brain.

Some of my topic maps on markets and competition

Some of my topic maps on markets and competition

Revision-wise, this is what I recommend and it works wonders for me. I found my exams went okay, there were no surprises and nothing I couldn’t answer with some level of confidence. Retrospectively, I should have probably started revising earlier but I’m sure I’ll be saying that for the next three years.

It also goes without saying that sleep and water are so important!! Keep rested and keep hydrated and your concentration levels will soar, I promise.

I hope you find some or all of these tips useful and good luck for any upcoming exams!

 

First year exams

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

Exams are weird. Personally I hate revising, feel stressed for weeks before and in the exam room, but pretty much always do better in them that other assessments. But after taking a gap year I found myself facing my first exam in over a year and a half, and it was really strange.

Years at Uni are divided into two semesters instead of three terms like a school year. Semester one runs from September to December, and then after the Christmas break you have your semester one exams, then an inter-semester break (one week) before starting semester two. The same thing happens with semester two; it runs from February until the Easter break and then you have exams after that.

Caffeine is a necessity when revising.

Caffeine is a necessity when revising.

The number of exams you have varies by subject. In psychology we were lucky enough to only have one January exam, but other subjects had a lot more (my friend doing chemistry had 8?!). But we had a lot more assessments throughout semester one, so I guess it kind of evens out because she didn't have to have any late night essay/lab report freak outs.

My school were very good at preparing us for exams; we had revision checklists, did practice exam questions for weeks before and had extra revision classes. But Uni is very different and are very much in control of your work. So while we could see previous year's exam questions much of the course content had changed, and we had our lecture notes and core reading to revise from. I found it all very daunting; I'm a creature of habit and I found myself craving the familiarity of exams at school. But this was great practice for the next few years at uni, and it was useful to get back into the habit of revising. Hand writing was also very odd; for the last 18 months I've scarcely written more than customer's food orders at work, and after 2 hours my hand was aching!

My flat mate decorated his entire room with revision.

My flat mate decorated his entire room with revision.

A very useful resource during exams was an exam forum on our online learning space, Moodle. This meant that as well as emailing lecturers with questions, we were all able to post public questions on the forum so that we could all get questions to common concerns. Our whole psychology course also has a Facebook group chat (there are about 160 of us in it) and while it freaked me out a bit to see how much everyone else was revising it was really useful. I'm not sure anyone actually enjoys exams (if you do then I'm impressed and jealous) but it was almost worth it just for the feeling of relief afterwards! And with only one exam I had 2 weeks off to nap and watch as much Netflix as I wanted before facing semester 2!

Laura x

 

Coming home for Christmas... and revision

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📥  First year, Rob (Physics)

I’m writing this from the belly of the beast, the valley of the shadows, the edge of the observable universe. My first exam is a week today. I arrived back in Bath this Monday just gone and I’ve quickly settled back in. It felt like I was coming home, not leaving it! I was overjoyed to see my housemates again and we managed to squeeze a game of risk out of our respective revision schedules, however tight they may be.

The tension of war doesn’t wait for anybody, no matter how excited we were to see each other, or how close our exams are...

The tension of war doesn’t wait for anybody, no matter how excited we were to see each other, or how close our exams are...

Just before the Christmas break I went to the lake district with The Mountaineering Club. It was a special trip for me, as I’ve always wanted to go back, since I first visited as a child. I was under the impression that nostalgia had the best of me, and I’d be disappointed on return, but that really wasn’t the case. I think the views speak for themselves. Here are a few of my favourite photos from the weekend. It’s a destination that I’d recommend to anybody and everybody.

Frosty fields on a cold winters day

Frosty fields on a cold winters day

One of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen

One of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen

A moss covered stone roof, typical Lake District fare

A moss covered stone roof, typical Lake District fare

Could it get any better? The weather was like this all weekend

Could it get any better? The weather was like this all weekend

Waterfalls are everywhere in the Lakes

Waterfalls are everywhere in the Lakes

Video timelapse: Stunning. Shot on an iPhone - not too bad.

It was great to go home. I live just south of London so it wasn’t a quick journey by any means (six hours of coaches with an hour in-between, waiting at a rainy bus station!) but I arranged to link up with a friend from home for the second part of the journey. He’s at UCL studying anthropology. We chatted about our courses and who we live with, and traded stories of the first two months, of which we both had a huge number. It really brought home to me how much I’d become immersed in my life in Bath, and the nuances and personalities of the people I’d been living with seemed even more interesting. I really missed them. I arrived home late that night, and by the look of the smile on her face mum had missed me just as much! I quickly opened the fridge and realised what I’d really been missing for the last two months; excessive amounts of food.

I think it suits me, honestly

I think it suits me, honestly

It’s not quite Bath but sunrise is special anywhere, right?

It’s not quite Bath but sunrise is special anywhere, right?

On the 23rd I went to the city with Becky. We soaked in the Christmas atmosphere that seems to ooze out of the bones of London at this time of year, hurrying around and stopping from time to time to warm up with food or coffee. Maintaining a long-distance relationship is testing, especially at University, but a day like that makes it feel so worth it!

Covent Garden…I loved it as a kid, and still love it now

Covent Garden…I loved it as a kid, and still love it now

I spent Christmas day with my family, and I even managed to do a couple of hours of revision. I spent the next few days revising, and the next few nights at the pub. I went out for a couple of meals, which was appreciated as a rare treat. I went to an Italian with Becky and an upmarket sort of place with Mum. Just in case you’re hungry…

Fish in spicy tomato sauce

Fish in spicy tomato sauce

Eton Mess done properly!

Eton Mess done properly!

Pizza, potatoes and Becky…three of my favourite things

Pizza, potatoes and Becky…three of my favourite things

…sorry if you were.

And almost as quickly as it came, it went…I spent new year’s eve at a friends and then it really started. I entered the dragon’s lair- revision. Intense revision.

The last goodbye to a year without exams

The last goodbye to a year without exams

Coffee is something that I don’t think anybody should deny themselves, not at any time of year. But now , the evils of examined physics on the horizon, coffee becomes something far greater than a choice. It becomes the very blood in my veins, the breath in my lungs. I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has been this way since the beginning of time. A constant in a chaotic universe. I share my house with somebody who feels the same, and as such we’ve developed what resembles a cult around the substance. We both have different apparatus and have made a fine art out of coffee brewing, balancing taste and caffeine content with precision. We meet as often as our addictions allow to refresh and rebrew.

Revision has been difficult for me to approach, as I haven’t taken an exam since 2014. I took two gap years to pursue travel and other non-academic interests (something I’d recommend to anybody who’s considering the option!), and I’m somewhat out of practice. It’s surprising how fast things like this seem to come back to you though, and I have managed to gain traction since the start of the year.

To illustrate what it’s like to prepare for university exams I’ve decided to include a F.A.Q in this post, to clear up some common confusions.

Q. I’ve heard that first year doesn’t matter, so why should I bother?

A. This is a common misconception, since the first year of a course doesn’t contribute to the overall degree classification. But what does it do? A good first year grade puts you at the top of the pecking order for employers considering you for a placement year, increasing your chances of securing a placement that interests you and pays well. It’s also important to be considered for year abroad options. Also, the first year of a degree provides knowledge that underpins the rest of the course. Without a strong understanding of the material taught in first year, the remaining years of a degree will be very difficult to grasp.

Q. Are there any key differences between A-Level and University exams?

Firstly, university exams are written by your lecturer for each module. The key difference here is that every exam will have a different style, based on the examination philosophy of the specific lecturer. Secondly, full worked solutions aren’t available for past papers! This came as a shock to me as that was my primary method of learning at A-level. Though it has indeed complicated my working process it has solid ideas underpinning it. It encourages students to gain full and deep understanding of the topics studied, instead of just remembering and regurgitating words onto an exam paper. You’ll thank the university in the end, trust me! Deeply understood knowledge is much more valuable.

Q. Generally has it been easier or harder?

A. So it’s a difficult question. The material itself is a lot more detailed and as such a lot harder. But then now I’m studying just physics, instead of three subjects at A-level. I chose physics because I’m passionate about it and also I find it, not easy, but manageable. The nature of studying one subject in detail is that a lot of modules cross over, and as such the knowledge is more general than specific. A lot of concepts from my Vibrations, Waves and Optics unit, for example, are relevant in both Mechanics and Electrical Circuits. This merging of subject areas creates an easier dynamic than rushing between History, Chemistry and Physics, for example.

Here goes nothing! Only five exams until I have enough time to breathe again!

 

Talking about exams

  

📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year, Ruth

So exams have finished which means my first year of university is over, let summer begin! I can’t believe I’m thinking about exams, let alone writing about them but I wanted to answer any questions that you may have about exam season at university.

I guess it all begins when you receive your exam timetable. Although you’ll know about your exams long before this (hopefully) this is when it suddenly seems real. The exam timetable informs you of the date, time and location of your exam enabling you to imagine it and panic! My course is predominantly coursework and therefore I didn’t even think about exams until the timetables were released.  I have only had one exam this summer but some of my flat mates have had five so the intensity of your exam period is totally dependent on your course.

I found this exam season incredibly different to A-levels in that you aren’t required to attend lessons or be around peers/teachers and therefore revision at university requires a huge amount of discipline! Consequently, I’d recommend making a revision plan before you even try to begin. Once lectures are over the whole of the university has one week set aside for revision and then a three week exam period. There is of course the choice to stay at university and revise or head home. Some people find that they can work better at home in their familiar environment however personally I get distracted too much at home and can’t even concentrate for more than 10 minutes (lesson learnt for next year!) Plus, there are so many places to revise at university which can help prevent insanity because I’ve found that variety is good.  Many people revise in their rooms or flats, others head to the library, some settle in the eateries and cafes and if the weather is nice you’ll see lots of students outside.

So the dreaded day has arrived and you’re about to sit your first exam either feeling prepared or a little under prepared. One thing that has taken a bit of getting used to are the 4:30pm exams, here at the University of Bath exams can either be at 9:30am, 1pm or 4:30pm. I don’t know about you but by 4:30 I’m done with the day and ready to curl up in bed with a hot chocolate and a film! Honestly, they’re the worst but at least for those who feel underprepared it does provide an extra bit of precious last -minute revision time. The exams are normally held in the main sports hall (Founders Hall) but when that is full other students sit their exams in lecture theatres or seminar rooms. Days pass and the same routine occurs: you wake up, you revise, you sit an exam, you sleep but eventually you walk out of your final exam and your summer starts then!

Relaxing in the sun with exams behind me!

Relaxing in the sun with exams behind me!

I have had the best time celebrating the end of my exams in Bath, there is so much to do and it is even better when the weather is nice. My favourite thing has been to grab a drink and sit by the lake if it is sunny. I’ve also enjoyed using the free time to explore Bath as a city, playing crazy golf in Victoria Park and taking a picnic to the royal crescent. Once the exam period is over the University holds a summer ball which includes a variety of music acts, a fair and street performers, as well as much more! It is a great way to celebrate the end of the year with your whole flat.

One final tip: if you’re lucky enough to finish exams early don’t celebrate too obviously in front of those you know who still have exams – it doesn’t go down too well!

 

Surviving the exam period at Bath!

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Examinations. That dreaded, dreaded time of the year when students have to swap clubbing for revising, laughing for sobbing and their mojitos for coffee. Exam-season is never fun for anyone, but what’s different about university exams in contrast to exams in college or at Sixth Form is that at University, you’ve essentially opted for many of the modules you’re being examined in, and you’re studying a subject that is paving the path to your future.

Additionally, the University of Bath offers many subjects that are broadly assessed by coursework and independent study as opposed to formal examinations, which is handy for some and saves some of the typical exam stress.

Revision is tough, exams are draining but once they're over you'll be feeling proud of yourself and your accomplishments.

Revision is tough, exams are draining but once they're over you'll be feeling proud of yourself and your accomplishments.

The first way to survive examination time, and to keep your head above water (which is totally feasible at Bath; there’s tonnes of academic and pastoral support/help available. Peer mentors and peer tutors are delighted to lend a hand at all times!) is to keep organized. Making yourself a revision timetable or to-do lists can be really helpful for arranging what needs to be learnt, tested and re-capped and this allows you to feel in control and not scatty or flustered when it comes to revising for your exams. Organisation of your work area or desk is good shout too; clear surroundings = a clear mind.

Another way to keep on top of your game when it comes to exam time is to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Instead of powering your brain with energy drinks, strawberry laces and endless cookies (yes, we’ve all got textbooks full of crumbs!) try and incorporate some fresh and wholesome foods into your diet as they’re great for brain power and general sprightly well-being. Oily fish is superb for memory, green tea is ace for concentration and a wealth of fruit and vegetables can be great for helping you to feel ‘on the ball’ and healthy (try popping to the shops in the evening when the prices of fresh produce are slashed!).

Drink lots of water, and try and stay active. Take frequent strolls around campus or where you live and still engage in sporty societies as this is great for release from intense studying. Socialising too is superb during mind-frazzling periods.

Another pointer to being top-dog during exams is to keep up a reward system, great for motivating you to get your metaphorical revision hat on and to supercharge your productivity. For example, why not allow yourself a coffee out or cinema trip after 10 hours of revision or a small ASOS splurge when you’ve revised and tested yourself on a whole module? Having something to look forward to, and a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is always helpful for zipping through all those case studies or equations.

When you’re revising for exams, make sure that you change up your revision styles a tad when they become dull or mundane. We all learn in different ways (to assess how your brain gathers and retains information take a simple ‘learning styles quiz’, easily found on Google) so will naturally revise in different manners. Some may opt for mind-maps, others may vouch for flashcards and some stick with Team Post-It-Notes-EVERYWHERE.

Making sure you prepare for your examinations in a variety of ways means that revision is less likely to become uninspiring and helps surge your creativity when putting pen to paper.

Another way to tackle feelings of stress or mental exhaustion when it comes to revising for exams is to take some time out and to focus on relaxation. Although there’s pressure to be constantly scribbling away, recalling facts and reciting key definitions; sometimes you’ll find that you can be more fruitful in your revision with frequent rest and breaks.

Using an app to meditate can be a great idea, as can doing a 20 minute yoga routine from YouTube or even just stopping fully to reflect, relax and recuperate at common points during the day. It’s also super important to ensure that you snatch at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and experts suggest that you should usually stop revision 2 to 3 hours before you snooze so all those key dates and statistics aren’t playing on your mind when it’s time to unwind.

Good Luck, there’s no doubt that using these tips you’ll smash your examinations!

Charlotte.

P.S Did you know that the Examinations Office at the University of Bath organises over 1000 exams for around 9000 students annually, which translates to over 70,000 candidate places in 60 different exam venues?! You have to hand it to them - they're good.

 

End of Semester Exams: Part 2

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

This may sound like crazy, but I really couldn’t wait to come back to university. There is something about university life that I seem to have gotten used to subconsciously but never seemed to have figured out what it is exactly. As soon as my train got back into the station and I set foot back in Bath, I had a confident skip in my step and a solid ‘Battle-plan’ for revision week. I treated myself to a good night’s sleep and next morning I was off to the university library to hunker down for what was to come.

Try not to get stuck in the long line at the bus stop before an exam!

Try not to get stuck in the long line at the bus stop before an exam!

I slowly realised that having some of my friends come along to the silent study area is a bad idea because silent study quickly turns into a miming competition and a lunch planning committee. I also understood the unwritten laws of the library during exam periods. The seat you get is the seat where you will stay until you cannot physically turn one more page, the moment you leave someone will take your seat and you’ll be abolished to library purgatory where you shuffle around the library looking for another seat. However, I did also discover that there is a treasure trove of rooms that are booked for students to study in which I found extremely useful.

Going into the exam for the first time was a bit scary and weird at the same time. Scary because it was my first exam at  university level, but weird because the atmosphere was more relaxed than A-Level examinations. The invigilators seemed to expect you to know what to do and don’t tend to repeat things like at the beginning of IELTS exams- I specifically enjoyed not being told a hundred times about the punishments of cheating!

When I started my first exam (Mathematics 1) I had a shaky start due to my own anxiety. I wish I could apologize to whoever had to mark my paper because of all the crossing out I did. The fact that I had a choice of questions I could answer did not help either as I kept jumping from question to question trying to decide which was easier. I managed to pull myself together just in time to do the required amount with enough confidence in my answers to hand in my paper with a good outlook.

After the first exam the following exams were pretty much straightforward. Although some of the exams surprised us because they differed vastly from the 5 year trend seen in the past papers, I still managed to keep my momentum up until the final exam. I realised throughout the semester that I can only prepare for something as much as I can, and to a certain degree I have learnt to this. Managing time during an exam is a critical skill that I will need to learn quickly, but since my first year does not contribute to my final mark on my degree I have some time to figure this out

After completing my exams I had prepared to go on a little holiday to London just to have a change of scenery. I managed to find a deal on a hotel that isn’t too far away from central London and along with my 16-25 railcard I managed to save a good amount of money, which was put to good use I promise. Choosing London as a destination might seem boring compared to where a lot of people go on their holidays but seeing a familiar place with a new attitude made my visit more special.

Harrods is always in a Christmas mood

Harrods is always in a Christmas mood

Workers taking down Banksy's latest while on my visit

Workers taking down Banksy's latest while on my visit

Coming back to university for the second semester was kind of like starting a New Year again. I have made my resolutions and I have learnt from my previous mistakes, all that’s left now is to take it head on.

 

End of Semester Exams: Part 1

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

After beginning my first semester at university I was very surprised at how it abruptly it ends. I was amazed at how the first semester flew by and all without me noticing. I blame this not on the amount of fun I was having but also on the constant workload and the back-to-back report/assignment juggling I had to do. Nonetheless, it was time to put on my revision boots and to get planning. Revision seems like something that you would naturally do, you have done a lot of it in school and so you should know the ins and outs of how you manage to remember things. Going into revision for university requires nothing special but knowing a few extra tips and tricks will help you to save time!

One of the first things I had to consider was what I would be taking back home with me as I was planning to spend Christmas back home. I decided not to run to the library and take advantage of their winter loans (which span the Christmas break and more) and take out every book your lecturers recommended, but instead to use my notes and the lecturer’s notes which were more than sufficient

You'll be seeing a lot of this at Uni!

You'll be seeing a lot of this at Uni!

Organisation is one of the most important things that is both tedious and life-saving. Some departments do not allow the solutions to past exams to be published, so you get stuck with a past paper with no answers to check yours against. Here comes the value of all those questions your tutors set for you throughout the semester, your tutors would have provided solutions to those and an insight into how questions should be solved in the exam. These along with any quizzes and tests will provide you with a wealth of knowledge of what might be coming, so save those papers and make sure to ask your lecturers all the questions you need to ask while you still have them!

The sad state of my bookshelf

The sad state of my bookshelf

Some departments offer an exam preparation lecture slot. This lecture is near the end of the first semester before the break and explains what is going to happen in the exams and how the exams are handled after you hand it in to the invigilator. The university uses an anonymous marking system that is good because this means the marking of the papers is completely fair. The lecturer at one of these sessions might also throw in some helpful tips with answering the exam questions or explain how they mark exams which will give you some pointers as to how to approach questions. On top of this, the lecture serves as a reassurance to anyone who is beginning to panic about their first exams at university.

Christmas break well deserved after a semester of hard work and it should be treated that way. It's important not to get into a cycle of paranoia and burnout where you think you aren’t studying as much as you should and how much your friends have completed. Take things at your own pace and make sure you take time to relax, and with good planning and preparation revision is far more likely to be successful.

 

Revision and exams in January

  

📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year, Ruth

Not really!

I was at home for Christmas (yay!) when writing this post.

Semester one was unforgettable but I was so ready for the Christmas break. Home cooked dinners, someone to do your washing and oh wait… revision! When I started University I didn’t really think I’d be back to revising so soon. However, we fortunate psychology students only have one timetabled exam in January and in comparison to the previous years of January A-level mocks I can cope with that, at least I think I can. We also have an open book, multiple choice exam due in January but I made sure I completed this before coming home to make sure I had maximum time to enjoy the festive season with family and friends.

As well as these exams there are various pieces of coursework due in for January, and so I made sure to start these as soon as possible. The less coursework you have to do in exam week the better! Personally, I’d also like to have a complete break after my exam and not have to worry about more deadlines.

Busy revising!

Busy revising!

So revision…. It’s going ok, I’ve made a good start although motivation was in slightly short supply once I was back home. My Christmas part time job meant that I had even less time, although sometimes I think I work better when my time is more pressured.  I’ve mainly been using Moodle for revision which is the University’s e-learning platform and has pretty much everything you could ever need for revising and so far it’s been a life saver. I’ve particularly found the lecture recordings useful for going back to remind myself of certain points I’d forgotten (we all daydream sometimes!) The PowerPoints and practice exam questions are also very useful.

The University has been so helpful in preparing us for exams so far. Prior to finishing semester one we had a revision session with exam tips and a chance to ask any questions. In addition to this, there was an opportunity to hand in some practice essays to be marked with detailed feedback on how to improve. I didn’t complete these which I regret after seeing the amount of feedback and guidance other course mates received so will definitely be making the most of that kind of opportunity next time! As undergraduate students we also get assigned peer mentors who are second year students doing the same degree as us, it is great to be able to chat to them about the course and get some guidance on answering exam questions.

After Christmas we have a week known as ‘revision week’ which is just that, many students will head back to campus to do some focused, last minute revision but I also know some of my flatmates are planning on staying at home for the extra week because they feel that’s where they work best , it is completely an individual’s decision. I personally have decided to go back to Bath, I think I’ll be less distracted there. Also I feel that any burning questions are more likely to be answered at university, by peers and lecturers, than at home – not sure my parents even understand what psychology is!

All this exam talk is making me daydream about how blissful inter semester break will be – complete freedom! This week is a chance to relax after the exam period before semester 2 begins and we do it all over again! I know many students chose to stay at university this week, others head away for a week with friends and some will head home. I’m planning on doing some uni-hopping to visit friends.

When you next hear from me it’ll all be over- see you on the other side!

 

Revising for exams

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

I find the concept of revision whilst at university intriguing. There, I’ve said it! In the following paragraphs I’ll just have to try and explain myself…

The most notable thing about revision is that people have such different ways of going about it and this has become more obvious and fascinating to me as the year has progressed. Due to the high entry requirements for Bath, everyone at the university, including the Freshers, can be assured that their revision techniques have worked in the past. We have all had to achieve high grades in order to get where we are and we can all be confident that whatever we did during our A level exams worked reasonably well. Eat, sleep, revise, and repeat, no?

This is not the full story though. The type of work we do at university (especially in the Engineering department) along with the intensity of the courses, has forced many of us to reconsider and adapt our revision techniques somewhat. In this blog post I will go some way towards describing some of the techniques that are used as well as explaining what the university offers to help us through the unavoidable exams...

As I have described in previous blogs, the Moodle service that the university provides is a life-saver. I do not know anyone who doesn’t use it and without the Moodle interface I would be lost. All of my lecturers (including those who do not use technology during lectures) upload the entire syllabus onto Moodle or an equivalent online facility. This means two wonderful things; firstly, you are able to do a lot of your revision from home (in the flat or when you return home over the holiday periods) as everything is available at the click of a button online. Secondly, it prevents a manic search for lecture notes if you fall ill or are unable to go to a lecture or two.

My 'workstation'

My 'workstation'

In addition to lecture notes, some of the lecturers even upload recordings from lectures onto the Moodle pages. Although this isn’t the norm, for those lecturers who do this, it is great to be able to revisit more challenging parts of a lecture in your own time and really solidify your understanding of certain concepts. This amazing service, in short, means that I personally do lots of my work from the comfort of my bedroom on campus and my bedroom at home during the holidays. Having said this, it is clear to see that many of my student friends employ other study techniques and do not enjoy working in isolation in their rooms.

The vast majority of people at the University of Bath appear to prefer working in the library for periods of time during the day or night. The library is open 24/7 and this is extremely useful. Prior to coming to university I thought that the idea of a 24hour library was excessive. How wrong I was?! It is such a relief to be able to go and print documents on the library printers at 02:00am before a deadline. On top of this, many people love going to the library in the evening to get revision done. The library is a good environment to study in as you are not bombarded with the constant distractions of people going out in your flat nor distracted by your comfy bed when you study in your room!

Moreover, during the day, the 'feel' on campus is very much academic. You need only walk into the Lime Tree restaurant in between lectures to see everyone busy at work on their laptops. This is a great feeling and the atmosphere is motivating and inspiring. It is also so helpful to be able to work away from the distractions of your flat with a coffee in hand to comfort you in times of despair. Furthermore, the large dining tables available to use in all the eateries on campus quite quickly transform into desks around which group projects are discussed and decisions are made. As the term comes to an end, this scene becomes more and more commonplace. More often than not, groups of people are found working together in the lounges of my halls or using the big television screens in Quads lounges to practice group presentations.

It is also worth pointing out that there are a multitude of rooms and facilities to cater for group work in the central library. With such a range of facilities to choose from it is a hard decision to select where to host meetings – it really is that good. To make things even more difficult, as the weather improves, there is also the option of using the big outdoor benches and desks on campus to continue project work and revision. I love fresh air and welcome any opportunity to get academic work done outside. Feeling the sun on my face whilst topping up the brain cells is something that is hard to match.

So there you have it, my guide to revision on campus as I know it. I was pleased with my Christmas results so let's just hope that I manage to get through this next lot of first year exams in a similar manner...

 

The best revision food

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📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

With exams just around the corner, revision is the one thing that is (or at least, should be) on everyone's minds right now. Having already given you my top tips to survive exams, the next thought on every student's mind is food.

Being away from home means that you have to think and plan for these things. You don't get the guarantee that there will be one hot meal placed on the table each night like you do at home. You're living on your own, and you've got to get it sorted. On top of that, revision makes us all hungry. Surely you know that by now? So, with this in mind, I decided it was time to start working out what the best revision food is, and for that, sixteen of my friends told me their favourite revision foods.

You probably won't be that surprised to hear that eleven of the answers included something chocolate based - biscuits (Oreos, bourbons, you know the deal), hot chocolate, eclairs, covered raisins, or even just plain old chocolate itself. I was also told that chocolate covered coffee beans are a great way to stay alert. Personally, I can't imagine anything worse.

I got a few 'healthy' (ish) answers, too - cheese, frozen grapes, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries and toast. Oh, and of course, those chocolate raisins are a great way to 'at least kid yourself into being healthy'.

With the only other suggestions being crisps, Haribo, Ben and Jerrys ice cream, tea, other types of biscuits and Monster energy drink (great for an all nighter apparently, not that that's generally advised), I decided I was going to have to give them a little prompt. What's the REAL FOOD that you eat? Because of course all students, myself included, eat three regular meals each day like I told you to do back in January (yes, that's sarcasm). We got as far as pizza (is that really an improvement on the previous list?) and pasta bake.

The top piece of meal advice however came from a fourth year: 'Spending Sunday evening making up batches of pasta bake/bolognese/curry which can be frozen and reheated for the rest of the week typically works best for me :-)'. It means your cooking time in the week is super short, you can stay focussed, and you don't have to get bored of eating pasta every single night or spend money that you don't have ordering takeaway.

Personally, I'm one of those people who has my routines and sticks to them. It's granola and yoghurt or Nutella on toast for breakfast, salad or soup for lunch, and whatever I have in the cupboard for tea. The last few weeks has resolved largely around quick things - pasta and homemade veggie sauce or stir fry, or things that you can 'leave to cook' - sausage hotpot, baked chicken with vegetables and potatoes all wrapped in a foil package. I've got four portions of frozen curry and two of frozen chilli for emergencies, but equally, there's one pizza in my freezer.

I guess what I'm saying is plan and practice. Back in September I hated the freezer but now I'm using it for everything from bread to chicken and full on meals. This year, I've developed the ability to make just about any meal with no more than ten minutes of prep, and it hasn't meant that I've had to sacrifice my love of vegetables, either. I'm sure my flat mates would happily tell you all about my vegetable obsession.

Homemade chicken pie!

Homemade chicken pie!

Good luck with your exams (and appreciate the home cooked meals while you can, it's all going to change when you're at university in September!)

Thank you to Alex, Alice, Andy, Beckie, Catherine, Charlotte, Chloe, Ella, Ellie, Jess, Kat W, Kat R, KH, Lizzie, Lizzy, and Rachael for all your help in writing this blog!