For the first five tips in this series, see Part 1. That done, read on…
6 You need to take a look at the basic paperwork for the course – scan the reading list, the course description, the catalogue and handbook. This will help you to identify the core material of the module – the parts you just can’t get away without knowing and understanding rigorously. You will also have a better chance of spotting the superfluous elements – that is, the ones you can safely dispense with. This is the first step in effective management of your time, enabling you to get the best grade you are capable of on this course.
7 Core material isn’t the only thing you need to check out, though – also scan the paperwork for ALL relevant deadlines in the course – presentations, exams, coursework, you name it. Mark them all on your calendar – then highlight them and underscore a few times too! Maybe set up reminders on your email program – anything you can do to make sure you don’t miss a single one. College tutors can be very unforgiving about missed deadlines.
8 Also check out what score you need to actually pass the course, and what score is required for each grade if you are aiming for a high pass. Make sure you know what any practicals, projects or presentations will involve or require and that you are happy with these requirements.
9 If there are core skills or knowledge required for the course which you feel you are not up to speed on, ask your tutors about this specifically. They may be amenable to setting you extra intermediate work which will upgrade your skills, or having you volunteer as an assistant to pick up more about the subject. There may even already be refresher or remedial courses offered through the college library or student services. If it’s on offer then don’t miss out – every extra point you can win counts.
10 Of course being located in a college town you are ideally situated to find yourself a private tutor, pushing you forward in your chosen subject. This is however one of the more expensive options open to you – academic assistance from a highly able post-grad isn’t going to come cheap. You may prefer to form a study group with friends from your module, brain-storming and swapping revision and memorisation techniques to amplify your individual abilities. (Remember that except on coursework legitimately marked for combined effort, co-operation and plagiarism are two different things!)
For more tips on taking a tough module, see part 3!
Copyright Ollie Hicks, 2009.