If you don’t write essays to revise for essay-based exams, you’re not alone

It feels like a dirty confession to make, but I don’t write essays as a revision technique. Despite the fact that most of the GCSE’s and all of the A-Levels I took were essay-based subjects, and the degree I’m currently taking is almost entirely assessed by essays, essay-writing has never been my go-to revision method. It isn’t because I hate essays, I like to think I have a normal love/hate relationship with them but because they don’t work for me. The reason this confession almost feels sacrilegious is because it is something I’ve heard repeatedly for years from teachers, ‘practise writing essays’ and ‘write practice essays’. School was a constant stream of ‘practice essays’, ‘practice essays’ and, you’ve guessed it, ‘practice essays’. It would be a lie to say that I’ve never written any; I had to write my fair share at school and did write a few at home. I’m not trying to say they aren’t helpful but that they aren’t equally helpful for everyone, and I’m one of the people that can revise more successfully in other ways. This article isn’t to give you an excuse to stop writing essays but a reminder that it is okay to prioritise other revision methods. I feel guilty sometimes, wondering if I should write an essay and am in fact being lazy- and sometimes I am, but normally it is more than that.

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The agony of choice: how to choose an essay (or dissertation) topic

Another semester has begun and with a new set of (hopefully interesting) classes returns a form of assessment that is loved by some and hated by others – essays. Personally, I appreciate the occasional essay as a welcome change and a more creative form of assessment. However, especially in postgraduate study, there are times when you suddenly find yourself buried under essay deadlines and faced with reading lists long enough to last you for at least a couple of years. But before you can even start to think about how to squeeze extra readings for essays and dissertations in your already packed timetable, there can be another hurdle that needs to be overcome: The agony of choice. Continue reading

The perfect study playlist…

Although this January exam period is already a memory of the past, we still have another semester to go of the year and for me, this will involve a significant amount of dissertation writing.  I personally struggle to work in loads of background noise (i.e. the non-silent aspects of any library) but I also find myself drifting off into fairyland or tuning in to the noise of someone munching away on a never ending packet of crisps (honestly, that is the worst) when I work in complete silence.  So yeah, a study playlist is ideal.  But then I get even more picky, because the sort of thing I can listen do depends on the type of work I’m doing.  Sometimes I can’t deal with words because I just end up singing them (or writing them into my assignments) but other times wordless music doesn’t seem to motivate me enough.

I’m always looking for something new to get me through working so I’ve compiled a little list of my current favourites which might appeal to some of you out there if you feel the same!

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The ultimate guide to study spaces

As semester one looms towards its inevitable end, the work stacks up. Deadlines and exams create a black cloud over our January. One of the biggest struggles, aside from the writer’s block and revision fatigue, is finding a place to work in the library. Something that I have found very important during my time at the University is finding a place that suits you best.

Below, I have combined mine and some of my peers’ experiences in order to create the ultimate guide to study spaces at the University of Sheffield. So, if this is your first semester here and you’re stuck for choice, or you’ve got into a rut and want somewhere new to spark some inspiration, then read on! Continue reading

3 tips to have a more enjoyable PhD experience

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Doing a PhD has been one of the best experiences of my life, and not only because of my research (Design of Soft Robotic Implants for Tissue Regeneration. Amazing, huh?). It is because the whole experience involves meeting new people, going new places and learning many different things. It took me one year to finally decide to start this new endeavour. What helped me to take the final decision? The support of my family and friends. Now that you have taken the decision of starting this new life project, I want to be that friend for you and let you know my top three tips for when you come to study your PhD at The University of Sheffield.

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Time management 101

Time Management. The thing we know we need to do but really can’t be bothered doing. I’m not afraid to admit that, last year, I was quite happy sailing along leaving everything until last minute, whether it was an assignment, exam prep or textbook reading. But when I pretty much scraped my way through 1st year, that’s when I realised I should probably change my ways if I want this £9,250 per year to pay off. So, there’s the fact that I’m not only in 2nd year, when grades actually count, but I have uni, a part-time job, extra-curriculars, friends and family to somehow fit into a 7-day week.

This is where the wonders of time management come to play. At first, I thought I’d write this post about the best ways to manage your time efficiently and make the most out of your free time…but that would imply that I completely know what I’m doing which certainly isn’t the case. However, I can suggest some tips which have helped me get by and manage the workload since entering second year.

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