- What can I do over the Christmas holidays? 20 December 2018
- 5 Tips for Postgraduate Study 08 November 2018
- How to Write an Essay: Tips for ESL (English as a Second Language) Students 18 October 2018
- Lecture Tips for International Students 18 September 2018
- Things I wish I’d known before I came to the UK 27 July 2018
- Staying Focused When You’re Missing Home 20 April 2018
- Study Tips for International Students 06 April 2018
- How to Make Friends at University for International Students 06 February 2018
- Getting into Higher Education for Refugees 04 January 2018
- Teaching Syrian and other refugees 15 December 2017
- Should I employ an English tutor to help with my university studies? 04 December 2017
- Five ways to kill time without your phone 21 November 2017
- Photo competition – International students: changing lives 20 October 2017
- A student’s guide to bills in the UK 16 October 2017
- Getting Ready for Results Day 15 August 2017
- Aim Higher for UK Education 23 June 2017
- 7 Alternative Study Break Activities for Students 18 May 2017
- Mental Health and Wellbeing at University 10 April 2017
- The Benefits of Joining Your University’s Outdoor Activity Clubs 15 February 2017
- 6 ways to improve your conversational English 08 February 2017
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Tag Archives: exams
This month’s guest blogpost is provided by Amy Hirst, a writer for The Student Housing Company:
So you’ve sent off your UCAS application to study in the UK and now you’re waiting on your exam results! With over 400,000 students starting their new lives as undergraduates in Britain every year, there’s never been a more exciting time to apply.
But what about when it comes to results day? How do you keep track of your application and make sure you’ve got the grades you need to start your chosen course? Read our article to find out and to help you get ready for the big day!
You can log into UCAS Track to see if you’ve got onto your chosen course. If you’ve achieved the grades you need, your ‘conditional’ offers will show up as ‘unconditional’ and you can celebrate! At this point, your first-choice university will get in touch to let you know what you should do next.
But remember that your exact marks won’t show up on Track. You will need to visit your school to see how you performed in each exam.
If you don’t get the results you want, try not to worry. When you’re just a few marks shy of getting into your chosen university, you can always call them up to see if they will nonetheless accept you.
If you don’t get the grades you need, you can still go through Clearing. This is a service that allows you to choose a different course and it’s completely free for international students. Just book a consultation (you can do this via Skype), and your consultant will contact other universities on your behalf.
Once they’ve found a few courses that are suitable for you, just pick the one you like the most and add it as your ‘clearing choice’ on your UCAS account. If you want to find out some extra info about Clearing, read The Student Housing Company’s Uni Application Checklist and you’ll stay one step ahead.
Studying in the UK
As excited as you may be, travelling to Britain can seem daunting. The culture in the UK will probably be different from your own, and if you’re leaving home for the first time, being in a new country might feel scary.
But don’t worry, help is at hand. Most universities have student-support officers available to assist you. There are also plenty of social groups you can join. Whatever you enjoy doing in your spare time, there will be a university society dedicated to it. There are loads of clubs set up just for international undergraduates too, so you can make lots of friends!
Finally, if you’re feeling homesick or overwhelmed by being in a different place, mental health support staff are usually available to talk you through your problems. Make use of them so that you can enjoy your time in Britain!
Whatever you study in the UK, make sure you have fun. Remember that you will be working hard, but you will also develop as an individual. So put yourself out there, make new friends, and enjoy your time as a student.
Get Your Accommodation Sorted
Finding sound accommodation is just as important as getting onto the right course. You need to live in a relaxed and comfortable environment where you can make friends. Find out more about the Student Housing Company’s student accommodation options so you can quickly settle into your new life.
Our latest guest blog post describes seven alternative study break activities for students, and is provided by Jessica Wagstaff from outdoor extreme-weather clothing and equipment specialist DLX:
You’re coming to the end of the semester, your coursework is all submitted and now you’ve got exams to pass – it’s study time. Whether reading up from home or at the library, studying can be intense; there’s a lot of information to learn and you don’t want to skip what could potentially be in your exam. It can be a stressful period, therefore having a break from studying can be just as important as the studying itself. Whilst an energy drink or an extra-large dose of coffee might seem like a fast and easy way to rebuild your energy, these methods can often leave you feeling burnt out. So why not try one of the activities listed to focus your mind.
Cup of Tea
A “cuppa” (cup of tea) is a well-known cure for all woes and ills in the UK – this includes helping you to de-stress from studying. If the classic milk and two sugars tea combination feels a bit strange then you could opt for a green, fruit or herbal tea which will still have a similar soothing effect. Make sure you take the time to completely break away from your work though and enjoy the hot beverage, don’t rush back into working; you could even pop your tea in a flask and go out for a walk.
One of the keys to a proper study break is to switch off from what you’ve been reading to give your mind a rest. Being creative is a great way to do this, but being creative can feel stressful for people who like to have structure. Hence the rise in popularity of colouring books for adults, where you’re given a task to do. These enable you to really put your studying to the back of your mind for a while.
Listen to a podcast
Listening to music is a method of stress release for a lot of people, but Podcasts are a different way to chill out with a number of options available. You can have a book read to you and get lost in a story for a while, or maybe listen to a comedy show and laugh out loud (maybe at home rather than at the library…) You could even listen to something subject related to your studies to step back from your reading for a while and gain a fresh perspective.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to help people de-stress and is a great study-break choice. It may feel like a chore or even silly at first, but once you allow yourself to be completely transported away by it you’ll soon see the positive effects meditation can have. Focusing on your breathing and the present moment is called mindfulness. It is a process that you can adopt when going back to studying as it helps stop distractions and means you have better quality study periods. Meditation allows you to take your mind off studying so that when you go back to studying your brain is refreshed and ready for the task at hand.
It is well known that Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel happy, and therefore can be a fantastic study break activity. If you’re at home you could do yoga or go out for a short run. At the library, then getting outside for a 20-30 minute walk is a good choice and you could explore a part of the city you’ve not been to before. Swimming is also great for switching off for a bit as well as a great all over body exercise, see if your local campus has one.
Crafts – knit, make jewellery, cross-stitch
A great way to relax yet be productive at the same time is to pick up a crafty talent. Making jewellery, knitting, or cross-stitching all create lovely little pieces of craftwork that you can use in the future. All the while enabling you to concentrate on something completely different for a while. Just don’t get carried away making the entirety of your extended family a new jumper…
Have a bath
Don’t take your phone, tablet or any other electronic device with you, just sink into the bubbles and relax in a nice hot bath. Our bodies release endorphins as our temperature rises and toxins are released through sweat. Afterwards your muscles will be relaxed and you’ll feel clean and fresh – ready for the next round of studying.
It’s worth mentioning that these breaks work well if you’ve planned your studying in advance and aren’t cramming it in at the last minute – that is a sure way to become stressed! So don’t get bogged down by over-studying this exam period, make sure you reward yourself with proactive study breaks to look after your mental health and increase productivity.
Xiangping Du, Academic Skills Tutor at the University of Hertfordshire, writes her second guest blog post for Prepare for Success and shares more of her experiences of dealing with the challenges faced as a Chinese student in the UK:
I also had to learn to write in different formats for essays and reports. I can still recall the first piece of work I completed, which was an essay. I thought it was good as I used headings, subheadings, and bullet points as clear signposts. However, I was shocked to only get a mere pass of 40%. I realised I had used the wrong format, and referring to the mark, I was shocked because in China, 60% is a pass, and students would normally achieve 80% or 90%. However, it appears that achieving 80% or 90% is quite rare in English universities, and getting 60% or 70% is regarded as a high mark.
Critical evaluation was another key new concept I had to learn in the UK. In China, we used to believe in whatever was published and regarded it as the authority. However, after coming to study in the UK, I learnt to think and write critically, where I had to look into different facets of an issue and ask questions like a detective. I had to synthesis various views from different scholars, analyse and critically evaluate them before presenting my own ‘informed’ opinion. This method of critical evaluation is not easy for an international student because It not only requires critical thinking, but also extensive reading from academic, reliable and credible sources, as well as writing skills such as paraphrasing and synthesising.
In addition, I learnt to manage my time and to study independently which are vital skills because students do not necessarily have classes every day. It’s all too easy to waste time by watching movies, social networking or playing computer games! This was particularly important when I was doing my PhD research as, apart from only a few one-to-one supervisions with my supervisor, there was not any compulsory class to attend.
A lot of assessments in the UK also involve group-work and managing teams can be challenging. I found working with others from different cultures could be challenging, but gradually I learnt that this experience was very valuable for my professional life, and my English language development.
In all, my own experience shows that academic expectations in the Chinese education system are very different from those in the UK. It is very important for Chinese international students to know what to expect beforehand so that they can fully prepare themselves for their study in the UK. This is why I co-authored our book Study Skills for Chinese Students because I know that such a book would really have helped me so much when I first came to study in the UK. I want to make sure that all Chinese students in the UK have this essential information now, about the differences and challenges of UK study, and the academic skills and techniques expected in the UK.
If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.Leave a comment...
This week’s blogpost is about academic assignments and the grades you may receive.
A part of their course that many international students worry about is the course assignments and the grades received for them. This is understandable as passing or failing a course usually depends on how well you have performed on assignments and/or in exams. Assignments on courses in the UK can take different forms. As well as common kinds of written assignment such as an essay or report, in many subject areas you may be required to give an oral presentation as part of your course assessment. This might be done on your own or in a team. Depending on the specific subject area, there are also other kinds of assignment tasks for which you can be awarded a grade.
Whatever kind of assignment you are asked to do, the criteria on which your work will be judged should be available from your tutor or departmental office. These written criteria will help you become aware of what your tutor will be looking out for as they mark your work.
An important point to note for international students is that typical grades awarded in their own country may be very different from typical grades awarded in the UK. Don’t be too shocked if you don’t receive a grade over 80% for an assignment. As a general rule, at postgraduate level, a ‘Distinction’ will be a grade over 70%, with only very exceptional work getting a grade over 80%. Most grades will fall into 50-59 (Pass) and 60-69 (Merit). Below 50 is usually considered to be a Fail.
Lastly, don’t just focus on the grade you receive. You will do many assignments during your course so there is a lot of opportunity to improve your grades as you get more practice at doing assignments! Tutor feedback on your assignments will help with this. Take time to read the comments and remarks your tutor has written when you get your assignment back. If you cannot read or understand a comment, ask for clarification. Slowly but surely your assignments and grades should improve!
For more information in this area, see ‘How will my assignments be graded’ under ‘Assignments’ on the FAQs page of Prepare for Success. See also the learning resource Preparing for course work and exams.