Rebecca Luttig

Tackling Coursework

We’ve already covered exam tips, so here are some tips for the other kind of work you will be facing in your time at school, college, and university – Coursework!

Coursework comes in lots of varieties depending on the subject it is for, such as essays, projects, research, posters and portfolios. What sets them apart from exams is that you have much more time to do them.

1. Think ahead

AKA. Time management!

When is your coursework due in? You might want to plan backwards from that day – so if it is due in on a Friday, plan to finish it by the Wednesday at the very latest, so that you have a chance to read over it after a night’s sleep and spot any mistakes or last minute changes you might want to make.

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  This is a study timetable I drew up for myself while working on my dissertation, which is a massive essay I had to do this year at university. A quick google will show you loads of templates to use to plan out your work time. You can see that I don’t only plan myself working time, but also gym, meals, and free time. If you start early enough you don’t have to dedicate 100% of your time to working, you can timetable yourself a bit of a life too! Take your time, and plan your work time well so that you don’t find yourself rushing as it gets closer to the deadline. 2. Plan before you start writing Don’t just open a blank page and go wild, think about what it is you are going to be writing about! Take a look at the title, question, or aim of the coursework and write up a plan before you start. Even a short bullet pointed list will give your work some structure. You’ll probably need to refer to sources in your coursework, and its a good idea to have those prepared before you start writing, rather than trying to do research and writing at the same time. Take your time to pick out the quotes or books you want to talk about and make a note of them in your plan for easy access. 3. Ask for help Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help. They are there to help you and will always be willing to clarify anything you don’t quite understand. Just make sure you know what you are asking. “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing” doesn’t really give the teacher something to work with – be specific about what it is you’re confused about. Is it the question, the books you should be using, or how to start? 4. Introduction and conclusion Make sure everything you have written is relevant to the question or point of the project! Did you actually talk about the things you said you would in the introduction? Does the conclusion nicely summarize everything you’ve argued? Most importantly – have you answered the essay question, or completed the project as you were supposed to? 5. Draft your work The best thing about coursework is that unlike exams, you can go back to it and make changes after you’re done. Check for mistakes, and ask someone else to proof-read it for you. Look over it when you’re done and think – is there anything you feel is missing? Is there more you could say? Does the third paragraph need another quote or two to prove your point? Print it out and hand write on it if that helps.  

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This is your chance to turn your work into the best you can do before you hand it in to get marked!

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Revision Tips

Learning how to prepare for exams is an important part of your education, whether you are in school or in university. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your revision time!

1. Organize Yourself

Make sure you know where all your notes and books are, and what it is you need to study!

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How many exams do you have and what topics will you cover? Make yourself lists and timetables so that you can see exactly how much work you can do in the time until your exams. Use mindmaps to split each subject into its individual topics, and break all your work down into manageable chunks.

2. Be Creative 

Not everyone revises best by writing out notes, maybe try more visual-based revision like drawing diagrams and pictures.Do you learn best explaining something out loud? Teach your dog/cat/desk lamp about the subject you are revising! Some people even create songs to help them remember things – find what works for you and do it, even if it doesn’t seem like “traditional” revision.

3. Practice

Get yourself used to doing exams by simulating them at home. Print out some past papers and set yourself a timer so you can see what the real exam will be like. This lets you see what kind of questions might come up and will help you find out what topics you might want to revise in more detail. Also, by the time you are sat in your real exam you’ll be so used to these papers that you won’t stress yourself out too much.

4. Take Breaks & Reward Yourself

No one can work non-stop all the time, so make sure you give yourself breaks. Step away from your desk you are working at to give your brain a change of scenery. Aim to work for 45 minutes at a time, and then give yourself a 15 minute break. Use this time to reward yourself – save your social media scrolling for these breaks, or go grab some food.

5. Stay Healthy

Remember that if you body isn’t being properly looked after, your brain won’t keep up either!

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Reach for some tasty fruits instead of chocolate during your breaks, and remember to drink lots of water. Sugary drinks may help you feel awake but the “sugar crash” is real and will have you burning out eventually. Go for a walk and get some fresh air to take your mind off your notes for a little while. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

5. Keep Going

Once you’ve covered everything revise it again. The more often you rewrite your notes the better your memory of them will be. Repetition is how you get your brain to remember things more permanently, and will stop you from going blank in your exams.

Most importantly, remember that your exams do not exist just to torture you – think of them as a stepping stone to your future, whatever you might want that to be.