Hi I’m Emily, an English student here at Birmingham. As essay season is upon us, I wanted to show you how I study to help provide inspiration for your own study sessions.
Studying in a Quiet Area
Whilst quiet study isn’t for everyone, I find it makes me more productive so I often visit a silent work space with no distractions, turn off my notifications, and put away my phone.
Even if the Library is busy I have plenty of other quiet spaces to go to, from 52 Pritchatts Road to the JG Smith Building. You can explore all study spaces on the University's website. If I'm working with my course mates then I go to the Arts Building because it is perfect for English students as it is near our lecturer’s offices.
Writing a list
To help me stay focused, I write a list of the work I’m aiming to complete as having a planned study session helps to break down my tasks, thus preventing me from feeling overwhelmed. Instead, I prioritise what needs to be done based off of deadlines, a skill which translates well for future careers.
Keep your Activities Varied
I find it hard to stay concentrated on one activity for hours so I swap between them to stay engaged. Usually, I start off with annotating my primary reading (books, poems etc.) where I colour code them by theme and character. This makes my seminar prep easier as the information is clearly labelled. If I have essays due, I complete any formative work I have been set. Formative work is a small task which links to your essays which seminar leaders can give feedback on. Then, I read secondary sources, like articles, which I summarise, reference and choose key quotes from and put this information on a separate Word document.
Take a Break
After prepping, I make sure to take a break to regain some energy and clear my head. Then I combine my secondary and primary reading to form an essay plan. When I start my assignments, I write them a section at a time in order to stay focused. I usually complete my essays early so I can leave them for a few days to be able to edit with fresh eyes.
Using the Resources on Offer
If I need advice surrounding my studies, I know I can visit:
- The Academic Writing Advisory Services which offers group workshops and individual tutorials to support general essay writing for students in the College of Arts and Law.
- Or I often visit my tutor’s office hours as they can use their expertise to build my essay ideas and guide me to relevant resources to help understand texts.
I also use online resources to enrich my work such as:
- Findit@bham: which is really easy to navigate as all you have to do is search for the text you want to explore. The website will then offer lots of relevant secondary resources.
- Box of Broadcasts: which has a catalogue of different book to screen adaptions for many different texts. This is a great resource for seeing other people’s interpretations of novels/plays.
This is what works for me when I'm studying, but it's important to find what works for you.
Best of luck with your exams and assessments!