Your time at university will be shaped by many things: the people you meet, the friends you make, the clubs and societies you join, and those spontaneous nights out you should never have gone on. While all these things contribute to making your student years some of the best, they’re unfortunately not the reason you’re actually there.
Assignments are the grey cloud that will haunt your uni life. They’re never fun, they require time and effort, and just when you get one done, another one pops up. That said, there are a few things you can do that can ease assessment stresses and prevent 3am library meltdowns.
The first thing is obvious, give yourself plenty of time. Note: this doesn’t always mean you need to be working on it weeks in advance of the deadline. Some people work best doing little bits at a time over a longer period, while others prefer to have shorter but more intense working sessions, fully immersing themselves in what they’re doing.
There are a few things you can do that can ease assessment stresses and prevent 3am library meltdowns
Whatever works best for you is fine, but make sure that you have a plan about when you’re going to get things done and that you’ve taken into consideration any other work due. Departments have the unfortunate habit of normally asking for all their work on the same day, which means leaving things to the last minute becomes all the more complicated.
Another thing, remember not to let it take over your life. While assignments are important, and the reason you’re paying thousands of pounds to study, they are not the be all and end all. Sometimes your best is all that you can do and, unless it’s your dissertation, most essays and assessments are not worth staying up until 4am for.
Next, make sure you have your working environment sussed and have plenty of snacks to hand. Whether it’s your bedroom, the library, your best friend’s house or even the park, find where you work best. We’re not all the same, and we don’t all love the hum of the air con in the silent study part of the library; some people work best nesting in their bedroom for a week only coming out for coffee and loo breaks. Find where you focus best and embrace it. Sometimes the library is good as there are fewer distractions, but often during deadline time it’s so full that it is no longer the study haven that it once was. Snacks are also a crucial from of sustenance. Most assignments are accompanied by an obligatory 2lb weight gain which is a small price to pay for a high grade.
Unless it’s your dissertation, most essays and assessments are not worth staying up until 4am for
Finally, utilise your tutors! I certainly didn’t do this enough and I regret it looking back. Part of cost of university is in paying the salaries of academic staff, they are there to help so don’t forget to use them. Emails can be great for asking quick questions about assessments but ideally go and speak to staff in person to ask for help or reassurance on your ideas. There are often bits of feedback on an assignment that could have been easily solved with a quick chat with your assessor beforehand. Most tutors are happy to offer advice or glance over plans and it can be invaluable in making sure you’re on track with assignments.
While all of the above is helpful, there will inevitably be a time where you’re cramming in the library in the early hours of the morning, high on caffeine and chocolate digestives because you left things to the last minute. That’s ok though, the assessment all-nighter is a university right of passage.
See our new video all about assignments here.