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Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision

When I was in year 10 we started getting told to buy revision guides for the GCSE exams, so it was no surprise when my physics teacher told us about the “best revision guide ever” with examples, practice calculations (with hints) and core facts laid out in a way that we would all understand. Our whole class wanted to order one of these revision guides thinking this would be a clean ticket to a good grade… and then our teacher said “well you can all have one for free”. At this point I thought, wait, where’s the catch??! The teacher then said to get one of these guides you have to take good notes because our notes would be the revision guide.

That really hit me. So simple but so very important! I still used the revision guides that you could buy but when you get to Uni you won’t have  those CGP revision guides you could get at G.C.S.E and A-level as unfortunately university courses are often too specific to the university for these sorts of things to be made. If you’re lucky and do a common course such as law or medicine there may be text book which might as well be a revision guide with practically everything you need to know for an exam in it. The other ideal situation is where a tutor bases the course on a particular text book however this isn’t often the case- at least in my course it isn’t!

This means that the notes you take and are (sometimes) given are your most important reference.

So how to make this “best revision guide ever”? Well let me show you some hints and tips that I wish I knew at the start of my 4 year course!

1)      Write neatly… or at least legibly. You’re not writing things down for writings sake! You will need to be able to read what you have written possibly months later so it helps if the notes you make in your lectures are legible.

a)       If you’re doing an arts or humanities course and are good at typing I suggest you bring a laptop into your lectures because tutors can talk very fast.

b)      If you’re doing a science/engineering based course and there are maths examples, try to make sure you get all the parts of the equations written down along with a topic title so you can look up the method later

2)      If the lecturer is showing you an example using a particular method, it may be wise to think how the method is applied to the example and write that down instead of the example itself. Let’s say he is showing you how to do long division. Rather than copying the question and the answer you write down pointers to how he did it- there is nothing more frustrating than looking at examples you understood in class but when you look back you can’t remember how it was done!!!

3)      Highlight key words and make sure they are spelled correctly! This enables you to pick out the important stuff when you are scanning over the notes later. Coloured pens and use of capitals are also good

4)      Keep them organised. Write the date on the top of each page you use and number the page at the bottom.  Do this for the notes or screenprints they give you too. Heaven forbid you drop your file full of notes, but should you do this, at least it will be straightforward to putting them back in the right order! Try to file your notes as soon as possible so you don’t lose an odd sheet.

5)      Mark points that you didn’t understand, missed or didn’t finish writing down. I’ve seen some peoples notes where the whole page is full of unfinished sentences and question marks with no reference to go back and ask about. Make sure you know what it was you didn’t get, and sort it out asap. Ask a friend, lecturer or tutor but don’t just leave it!

6)      Use a digital recorder. If you have one that can leave indexes all the better as it allows you to place a marker at a key point/ at a piece you missed or didn’t have time to write down during the lecture. If your recording device (eg an iphone) doesn’t allow markers then just write the time down in the margin at the point where you’re getting lost or think it’s good to have a listen to a key point again later.  Don’t forget to replay the recordings at the points you need to go back to and fill in extra info.

Well I hope these points are useful and you try them out! Last but not least… there is no point having the best revision guide ever if you don’t use it- so don’t forget to use your notes to revise from and review them regularly!!

Happy note-taking!

If this section has been useful to you, why not look at some of the others?

Series One: University

Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!
Part Two: Beating Homesickness and Fresher Blues- coping on your own
Part Three: Food for University
Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision
Part Five: University Organisation
Part Six: Dyslexia at University

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Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!

This is the first in the series about university life. I base what I write on my experiences of living in halls and private housing while I’ve been doing my engineering degree for the last 4 years. I hope they help! If you have any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll get back to you. 🙂 

What to take the bare minimum.

Remember that the room/ storage you get given will probably be a lot less than you are used to at home so you are unlikely to have room for everything! Plus when you’re at uni you are likely to accumulate things- even if it’s just notes, so you will need to have room in the car/ suitcase to take them back home with you at the end of the year!

Kitchen
label your stuff that way no one claims your things thinking they are theirs because they didn’t see what Mum unpacked for them!!

  • mixing bowl
  • wooden or silicon spoon, potato masher, spaghetti scoop (great for stews and all types of pasta etc)
  • saucepan (I tend to use my saucepan as a frying pan too as I’m only cooking for 1!) It’s handy to have 2 saucepans one for sauce the other for rice/pasta/potatoes.
  • Baking tray and roasting dish
  • Measuring jug
  • Sharp knife- I have a small one with a sheath and a larger one
  • Chopping board
  • cutlery (2 sets of knife, fork, spoon & teaspoon as minimum and spare teaspoons- no idea where they go to!)
  • a couple of plates, bowls, glasses and mugs
  • storage Tupperware type boxes with lids
  • kitchen foil and plastic wrap
  • can opener and  vegetable peeler
  • dish spongers with a scrubber on the back and dish soap!

You may also need a kettle/ toaster- see what uni provides and try to get in contact with future housemates through facebook pages for your halls to see what others are bringing! You don’t want to end up with 5 toasters!!!

For store cupboard ingredients and basics see my post “Food for University”.

Clothes

Your choice here, but here are some things to remember:

Take lots and lots of underwear. Seriously! Uni laundrettes are expensive and have large drums so it will take you a while to get enough stuff to fill it! Have enough clothes so you can do a darks wash and a lights wash to save having white t-shirts etc go funny shades of blue and pink.

Going out stuff- I’d not really gone on a night out before and took nothing for this type of occasion. A couple of dresses and a pair of heels (ladies) or smarter jeans/ trousers and a couple of nice shirts (gentlemen) would do!

Practical things- a proper waterproof coat and umbrella never go amiss in the UK! Warm socks and wellies are also a good option! Also warm jumpers can be useful if you have bad heating in your halls/ lecture rooms.
Flipflops for the showers are a good idea as well and don’t forget your towel!!!!

Miscellaneous

Take a tin of roses chocolates, or tub of biscuits- so useful to make friends with people with as they knock on your door to say hello to their new flatmate!

  • Cereal bars- great for when you’re in a rush to get out of the door!
  • Pens and paper. I have no idea why people forget these as I’m sure everyone knows you go to university to study and at some point these items will be useful?? Don’t forget these as it’s annoying to have just met someone on the first day of your course and already they are leaching off you for stationary!
     Having a diary is useful too as you will suddenly have a lot of dates times and places to remember as well as deadlines. I’m currently using a Filofax which I LOVE (see my posts on using a Filofax at uni) but I one had a Palgrave Student Planner which was fabulous.
  • If you have a bike take a motorcycle lock not a d-lock; d-locks are easy to take off even though they (university security/ police) normally recommend them! I’d also recommend a laptop lock. Great for keeping it safe in your room, but also for when you need a toilet break in the library!
  • Things to make your place a little homely- photos, posters (if your allowed), pot plant, your musical instrument etc.
  • Finally a bit of a random one… toilet paper. You do not want to arrive and have none of this handy as most local supermarkets will have sold out as all students seem to arrive with none!

What not to take… for example, expensive kitchen stuff- your new housemates will probably not respect it how you would like- it may get taken or broken. If you do have expensive stuff make sure you wash it up straight away and take it back to your room.

I also wouldn’t take expensive jewellery or things that have a large sentimental value to you for the same reason. Even if you do get some insurance with your room it probably won’t cover things like this.  Check to see what your parents household insurance covers- sometimes you can be lucky and it will cover your mobile phone etc.

Hope you find these pointers useful, have fun packing and I hope you check out some of the other parts in the series below as they become live!

Series One: University

Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!
Part Two: Beating Homesickness and Fresher Blues- coping on your own
Part Three: Food for University
Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision
Part Five: University Organisation
Part Six: Dyslexia at University

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Surprise! We bought a house!

So after all my writing in cryptic terms I can finally tell the news that has had me bursting at the seams for the last month.

It’s been exactly one month from the day we first saw the house on the internet at our anniversary dinner to the day we got conformation that we definitely have the house!

It’s a three bedroom house only 10 mins bike ride from my boyfriend’s work. We are very very lucky (being only 20 and 21!) and my only sad thought is that as I’m still at uni I cannot live there full time until I leave uni and get a job up in the north.

Still I get to spend my christmas holidays redecorating ‘my’ (our) first house- a dream I’ve had since I was little. I’m please that we get the keys at the start of my month break as I have an exam next week and I think I wouldn’t study well if we got the keys before that!

We announced it on facebook yesterday and it’s been lovely to see all our friends and family so excited for us! I will update my blog with household renovations as we do them so you all can see them too 🙂

I must go now because I have to revise for that exam of mine 😦 and I feel quite poorly tonight 😦 😦 so I need to get an earlyish night (much rather just go straight to bed but I’m feeling really guilty for not revising this weekend!!).

One final thing, my filofax hole punch came yesterday so have now managed to fit my dividers into my diary- will post on this another time! (see previous post on filofax here)

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Back To School

Yesterday was my first day “back” at uni. I say “back” as I’ve actually been there all summer as I was doing a summer placement in my department in partnership with Rolls Royce, but now it is back to lectures, classes, tutorials and assignments.
I normally love the first week back at school. It’s so much easier than the rest of the year as you have no assignments hanging over you, and the lectures/ classes tend to be shorter as they are mainly just introductions to the course. I love the fresh start.
The last couple of days however I’ve felt a bit of a frantic mess! I’ve never had timetable clashes before or any options in the subjects I have to study, so I’ve had a few big decisions to make and loads of chasing up/ sorting out to do trying to get my timetable sorted.
It hasn’t exactly helped that I’ve had cold on top of cold and been ill in other ways too. Today I resorted to a lemon and maple syrup drink with added cinnamon to try and help me feel a bit better. Magic stuff is cinnamon- the number of amazing properties it has to it really surprises me and I’m determined to incorporate more of it into my diet. I’ve also started taking my vitamin tablets again as I want to be as healthy as possible this year because last year I seemed to be constantly ill and it made me even more miserable than I was already with the workload and group work problems I had! What things do you do to keep illnesses away?

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Exams bring out the worse….

I feel sick, I’m shaking and I feel like giving up… and that’s not the exams that are making me feel this way- which makes it all the worse. Not only do I have to battle with what I find really hard exams, but I’m having to do it alone.
It’s my first full year at uni- last time I only made it just past Christmas. This year I got to the summer term- I’m so proud of that, but I’m finding facing this exam period hell. Last Monday after my first exam I decided I’d had enough of uni- just over 2 weeks away and I was more than ready to come home again, so I did. I’d cocked up at the weekend- my man had gone away to see some new friends, and I ended up getting in a big mess with him. Not good. Not right before my exams…not at any time for that matter, but being exam time made it worse. The pressure on me is so much greater- I’m super stressed and this just added to it.

My housemate hasn’t exactly helped. He has a habit of screaming and swearing at the top of his voice at his computer and his work- anything that remotely annoys him. Every time I jump and get on edge.
Today he even made me late for my exam-I was boiling my pasta 20mins before I had to leave- 10mins to cook, 10 mins to eat. I came back down stairs when I thought it would be ready to find it had been turned to the lowest setting possible- it wasn’t even boiling! The pasta was still hard too! He said that it was wasting energy if I had it on any higher- it would still cook just as quick on a lower setting- well it obviously didnt did it!!!
I couldnt believe this- he said that i was wasting energy cooking my pasta when he’d left the cooker on for over 1/2hr because he’d forgotten it was on, after he’d taken his food off! I had to turn it off for him only 10mins before!!! Anyway… I tried to turn my pasta up, but it didnt really work because we have a rubbish cooker- once you turn it down- you’ve had it, it wont turn up anymore. So I ended up bolting half cooked pasta and then running to my exam.

I digress…
Sometimes all you need to hear when your upset or stressed or worried is “I love you”. Sometimes hearing it from anyone will do, but other times you need to hear it from one person. Well that one person hasn’t said it properly for a week now, when it’s normal to hear it a couple of times a day- that makes you worried. Especially when you’ve messed up with them, your away so cant properly talk to them about it, and your horrendously stressed with being away, so that you turn every molehill into a mountain.
I have half an idea why it hasnt been said. I’ve tried my best to retify that problem, but it hasnt helped not even a bit! I feel like all my efforts (and they have been huge efforts for me even if it hasnt seemed like it to that person) are for nothing. They tell me to stop over thinking- but what can I do when I’m shut up in a room on my own with only text books and notes for company! Revision doesnt distract me! I’m trying- but it really is so difficult when I’m given no reason to believe anything will get any better.

Oh I just want to go home. I want to fix everything, make it better again. I cant do well if I feel like crying every minute, and I have to choke back tears before I say anything to anyone.

Half of me says- just go on regardless. You’ve made it this far, it’s only 7 days, 4 exams till you get to go home again.
The other half says- why bother, the things that are really important to you are falling around your ankles, if you are failing at life- why bother trying to do uni. Go home now.

-big breath and a moment to reflect-

As much as I dont want to, as much as I want to just fall to pieces, I dont think I can risk it. If I do- I really will lose everything I’ve worked for. Worked REALLY hard for. Not just academically.

These exams have brought the worse back out of me. They have made me feel like I did over a year ago, and it hurts SO much. But that’s just why I’m going to have to fight it. I got out of that situation by hard work- all be it with family around me supporting me… I can do it again, this time on my own. I have to. These exams will show the best of me- maybe not academically this time around, but mentally. I will get through this, and when it’s over, and everything is back to rights- I will wonder what all the fuss was about. I can tell it’s not going to be easy though, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got!

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I shouldn’t really be blogging right now, but…

I’ve been wanting to blog for so long now, but I’ve been so busy I really haven’t had time! To be honest I don’t have time to blog now either, but I thought I really better say something! Funny thing is that although I’ve been really busy I haven’t really got anything to say as it’s all uni work basically!

However, I do have a little bit of news- I got a pet goldfish at the weekend! Okay, it’s not the most exotic of pets, and not really the most interesting but I really like it! I’ve called it Apricot and it lives in the tank with my sister’s fish (no name yet) at home in the lakes. Couldn’t really bring it to uni as it’s unfair making it travel so much!

I also went to the cinema at the weekend with my boyfriend, his brother, and his brother’s best friend. We saw True Grit. Fantastic cowboy film, although I’ve never seen the one with John Wayne in it. I really enjoyed the film, but I did find it rather hard to understand the thick American accent! They spoke very fast using old fashioned words which made it very hard to follow at times! Not really a film you go and see to relax as you had to listen hard!

The rest of the time I’ve been the boring kind of busy- just doing uni work! I’ve had an extortionate amount though! We have 4 assignments due before the Easter holidays (which start on 1st April) and 2 exams before then too. The we have 3 assignments due straight after the Easter break, but you need to use uni software to do them, or at least need help from tutors to do them, so they have to be done before Easter too! So that’s 9 assignments/ exams in the next 2 weeks, and there isn’t a single piece of work even nearly half done! I’ve been trying to prioritise things but that’s mostly impossible as a lot of them are due all in the same week (3 pieces on the same day!).  I’m going to see my tutor see what he thinks is the best Modus operandi.  I’m not sure that extensions to deadlines will work what with needing tutors help to do the work, and they wont be available over Easter anyway! I guess I shall have to do my best, keep plodding on and hope that that is okay!

Must go and do some work now (or at least make a list of things to do when I have the computer software that I need (only available in the computer room at uni)! night!

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Back to Reality- and Uni

Well I’m back to Uni now, all my holiday assignments are in, and I’m left feeling rather empty with nothing to fill my time with tonight. In all reality there is a lot I could (and should) do. Like unpacking for example… but that is just making the reality that I’m back, and staying back, more real. Not that I really consider staying at uni again a bad thing, I’m actually really proud of myself for staying!

Last year there was no way I could stay any longer, but not only have I managed the whole of the first term… I’ve started the second and all that is up is I’m missing home, my family and boyfriend. Not that bad compared with this time last year! I’m sure that in a few days I will have got used to the normal term time routine, and will feel my normal self again!

In order to keep the homesickness at bay, I’m trying to keep really busy- but with things I enjoy, as the lectures and school commitments don’t really start full on till next week. Yesterday I made fudge (which didn’t go quite to plan admittedly!), and started growing cress… maybe not the most exciting thing to grow, but at least you don’t have to wait ages for the results! It’s a great mini green fingered activity for kids (and big ones too!), that can be done anywhere- I’m doing mine on the windowsill in my bedroom in a tea-light holder! I’ll blog on it later when they have grown and I have all the pictures, I even have a printable I made to go with it! 🙂

Today I enjoyed cooking and tidying in the kitchen, and have talked to my friends on the phone and on skype, which really cheered me up after feeling a bit low! I also bought train tickets for tomorrow! I’m going to Coventry to go to IKEA. I love going to IKEA, and I need some boxes to organise my food things, so I have my excuse to go! Might also pop into Hobbycraft to get a little bit of fabric to make some presents with.  I cant wait to get crafty, once I’ve unpacked and tidied my room that is! When the term gets going I’m not sure how much time I will have to craft, although if I’m organised enough I should be fine… I’ll have to take the opportunity now, just in case!

Right… better go and unpack in that case!

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