Thursday, May 23, 2013

Return to sender

Do you have a pile of library books sitting in your locker, the kitchen table, the back seat of the car... ?  As you finish your exams, don't forget to drop them back to the library.  You can:
  • leave them in the Book Returns Bin outside the main library door
  • return them to a staff member at the library desk
  • check them in using the self-issue machine

If you're not sure whether you have any outstanding loans, you can check your account online or ask us at the library desk (bring your student card!)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Handwritten exams...

In our everyday lives, most of us type more than we write. Students, in particular, often do most of their coursework on computers. So, how can we adapt to hand-written exams?


Here are four things to remember:

  1. Hand-writing requires a little more planning. Typists often starting working straight away; they know that they can edit the document later. It is more difficult to edit hand-written scripts. Therefore, writers must be organised! Before you pick up a pen, take the time to plan your answer. Jot down your ideas on rough paper and structure your argument before you start.
  2. Hand-writing can be a slower process than typing. Rest assured that your marker is aware of this! A written exam probably won't resemble a typed assignment, so don't expect it to. However, the slower speed of writing gives you a little more time to think as you write, which allows you to edit-as-you-go.
  3. Some of us have ferocious hand-writing! Although most markers are understanding of poor hand-writing, they must be able to read and understand your work in order to mark it. As you write, ensure that your writing is legible. Bring a couple of pens into the exam hall in case one leeks and write in blue or black ink.
  4. In exams we need to correct our own spelling and grammar. As part of the planning and edit-as-you-go process, we must be conscious of our spelling and grammar as we write. If you are unsure of a spelling, jot it down on rough paper; sometimes correct spellings are more recognisable when written down. And leave a little time at the end of the exam to re-read your paper; this is a great way of catching obvious errors.
Best of luck to everyone sitting an exam today!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Before your exam...

Writing exams can be a stressful time! Having a plan before you go into the Exam Hall can help. Here are some of the things you can plan for:

1. Read the exam paper slowly and carefully. Ensure that you understand the instructions before you start writing!

2. Look at the points available for each question, or part of a question, e.g. if there are three questions - worth 20%, 20% and 60% - you need to plan to spend most of your time on the last question.

3. Answer the question that was asked. Sometimes it can be tempting to write down everything you know about a topic. It is important to read the question carefully and answer what was asked. Look at directive words, e.g. are you being asked to list information, to describe a theory or an idea, to evaluate a concept & give your opinions...

4. Plan your answer before you start writing. Jot down your ideas, on a separate sheet of paper, and consider how you are going to structure your argument. What order will you put your ideas in? Does your introduction include all your main ideas? Is your argument clear and logical? (if you must submit this piece of paper, write "rough work" at the top of the page and the marker will understand that it is not part of your answer).

5. Leave time to re-read your answers. Leave 10 minutes or so to re-read your answers before you finish. This will allow you to catch any obvious mistakes. Reviewing your work reduces the number of spelling and grammar mistakes, and allows you to change any obvious errors. This makes a good impression on the marker.

... and if you "blank"? Don't worry. First of all, this happens to lots of people! Take a deep breath and jot down any relevant information, no matter how basic it seems. Jotting ideas down often reminds you of how much you know and stimulates related thoughts!

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Good luck!

Are you starting your exams today?  If so, today is a day for positive thoughts! Most of us find exams challenging. But, as they are part of student life, we must learn to cope with them. Three important things to remember as you start:
  • Be relaxed: it is normal to have the jitters before an exam; in order to feel calmer, breathe in slowly and deeply.
  • Be confident: negative thoughts can creep in when we are nervous; concentrate on what you do know rather than worrying about anything else.
  • Be organised: read the paper carefully; jot your ideas down on rough paper and structure your answer before you start writing.

Good luck from everyone in the Library and SID!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Preparing for exams

The library is open today from 9.30am - 3.30pm!

Preparing for exams can be a stressful time. Here are a few tips that may help you to prepare over the weekend:
  • Study in a comfortable place; be sure it is warm and bright
  • Study a little bit each day
  • Look at past exam papers
  • Ask a friend to test you on what you have studied
  • Include all your subjects, even the ones you don’t like so much
  • Find time for exercise and relaxation each day

Friday, May 17, 2013

If you can't explain it simply...

Revision Week usually involves a lot of reading!
Some information takes a little longer to understand, and fully take in, than other information. Here are some hints on how to handle reading text that is difficult to understand. Unless you understand a text properly, it will very hard to remember and re-use it effectively in your exams.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Answering the question we are asked...

Monash University have an excellent guide to help you understand questions that are being asked of you. They deal with six broad categories of questions:

1. Knowledge questions.
These questions examine whether you are familiar with particular facts, definitions etc.
They are often who, what, where, when, why, define.... questions.
This information is usually vital to understanding the topic and is often learned by-heart to ensure accuracy.

2. Comprehension questions.
These questions examine whether you fully understand the information you have learned.
They are often describe, explain, compare and contrast... questions.
These answers often contain a lot of detail. You must show that you understand the significance of the information when answering these questions.

3. Application questions.
These questions ask you to find a specific answer to a question by using a particular formula, technique or rule.
They are often questions such as if 3x=27, what is x? or what is the latitude of Melbourne?...
These questions usually have one correct answer that can be found by applying the correct technique.

4. Analysis questions.
These questions ask you to look at the data and interpret it or draw conclusions based upon it.
They include questions such as why certain trends occur, what conclusions can be drawn by x, what evidence is there to support y...
These questions demonstrate that, as well as understanding the information, you are able to use it to draw evidence-based conclusions.

5. Synthesis questions.
These questions ask you to create solutions for a problem based on information taken from a number of sources.
They include questions such as how a specific dilemma could be solved, how a situation could be improved, your predictions about the future...
These questions demonstrate your understanding of a subject as a whole. Rather than repeating data that you have learned-off, these questions require you to use your whole body of knowledge and apply it to a specific question.

6. Evaluation questions.
These questions ask you to give your opinion or judgement on a piece of information. You will be expected to back-up your opinion using evidence.
They include questions such as do you agree with x, what is your opinion on y, design a way to do z...
These questions demonstrate that, as well as reading other people's ideas, you are able to create ideas of your own. Evaluation questions demonstrate your ability to do original research and/or add to the body of knowledge that exists for the subject you study.

For a full explanation of these categories, see the Monash University guide and take the test!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Study aids


Creating study notes, as you revise, can be helpful for a number of reasons:
  • to highlight important information
  • to focus the mind as you read
  • to allow someone else to test you

Creating flash cards is easy. If you don't have cards, just cut a piece of paper up into six equal pieces (like power point slides). Use your flash cards to record important definitions, key points and lists.

Remember, flash cards don't need to include all of the information in your text book. Use keywords that will trigger the information that you need to remember.

You can type or handwrite your cards - handwriting has the benefit of allowing you to add illustrations, to highlight points, to write in different colour pens - anything that helps you to remember!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Revision breaks!

During Revision Week, it can be tempting to have marathon study sessions. Even though it is done with the best of intentions, this can backfire!

Most of us find that our minds can only stay focused for a certain amount of time. After that it is difficult to concentrate and our minds wander. Studies show that we remember more of the information we learn at the start and at the end of a study session.

Therefore, it is good to break big long study sessions into several small ones. Studying for 50 minutes and then taking a 10 minute break enables us to concentrate throughout our study time.

Remember, it is better to spend a shorter time completely focused on what you are reading than to spend twice as long trying to read while distracted by a phone/the TV/our friends. Learn to single-task! Devote your entire concentration to your study time, and then enjoy the time you have off!

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Friday, May 10, 2013

We're open tomorrow!

Are you planning to do some revision this weekend?

If so, don't forget the library is open tomorrow, Saturday, from 9.30am - 3.30pm.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Are you an early starter?

Early morning opening
This morning the library opened at 8.15am and it will continue to do so each weekday for the rest of term!  There will be no desk service until 9.15am but the self issue machine will be available if you wish to borrow, renew or return books.

Saturday opening
The library will also be open on Saturdays as follows:
Sat 11th May - 9.30am to 3.30pm
Sat 18th May - 9.30am to 3.30pm
Sat 25th May - 9.30am to 3.30pm

Please remember to co-operate fully with all library staff and to have respect for the library's regulations and for each other in the run up to exams!

Photo Credit: Βethan via Compfight cc

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do you need to book a library PC?

The library is very busy in the run-up to the exams. There is an increasing need to book PCs in advance. In order to make the PCs available to as many of you as possible please remember that bookings start at the top of the hour, i.e. 11.00, 12.00, 1.00 etc. All bookings are one hour long. Anyone can use a PC which isn’t booked, but you may be asked to move (at the top of the hour) if someone else has booked the PC.

Here is a quick (2 minute) guide to booking library PCs:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why your library is better than the internet!

Here are a few good reasons why you should rely on material from your library over the stuff you find on the internet.... 

©2011. Gale, Cengage Learning

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Preparing a topic

Are you preparing topics for your exams?  Are you taking information from lots of places such as your notes, Moodle, books, online journals, websites, reports etc?

The Learning Development section of The University of Plymouth have devised an excellent model to help us think critically about such topics.

They encourage us to think about topics in 3 categories:
(1) Describe them: what? -- when? -- who? -- where?
(2) Analyse them: why? -- how?
(3) Evaluate them: what if? -- so what? -- what next?

(click on image to enlarge)

You can read more here!