Boost your grades in the new session: Reviewing past performance

By Rebecca Lee

Here we are at the beginning of Session 2! End of Session 1 saw me emulate Jon Snow in the Game of Thrones finale, in that I heroically pushed through adversity – completing my final assessment while wracked with flu-induced fever – only to be let down in the end, with a less than amazing grade  (no-one presented me with the damn medal I deserved, but I was grateful not to be exiled to The Wall). In the aftermath of it all I felt lost and confused, like your average GoT fan.

Turning to a good ‘ol debrief, (yes, I’ve scoured the internet for articles that might explain why GoT ended the way it did) I feel infinitely better now I have some clear ideas about how to improve my work for this current session. If you’re keen to do the same, here are three ideas that might help;

  1. Feed on feedback

Let’s be real – not all markers are great at giving feedback. But if you’re lucky enough to have received decent comments on your work, this is a great place to start in your mission to do better. It may take some problem-solving to work out how to apply the feedback, so give yourself time to think on it. I had one marker suggest that I ‘could’ve expanded on x more’ or ‘touched on some of the challenges surrounding x’. This was an assessment with an extremely tight word count, so I was stumped – how could I ever have fit more in? In the end I decided I need to improve my writing skills. Based on research I’ve conducted thus far, I could save a lot of words by steering clear of ‘passive voice’, which is proliferate in academic writing.

  1. Are you participating?

If I’m completely honest, online forum participation has been a low priority for me. Time is precious, which is why any I have spare gets siphoned into assessment work. I know I’m not the only one…do you do this too? Lately I’ve wondered if by doing this, we are doing ourselves a disservice – that considering the viewpoints from others will broaden our understanding of subjects, and allow us to better contextualise our own thinking. Plus, more forum participation equals more critical thinking and writing practice, which can only help to improve our assessment work. I’ll be giving this a go in the current session!

  1. Don’t rush

For those of us who are paranoid about meeting deadlines and are keen to factor in ‘contingency time’ to allow for delightful life surprises like sick kids, tax audits or a great new TV series of which you have access to entire seasons, its pretty tempting to dive right into assessment work from day one. This has been my past strategy, and as a result, looming assessment deadlines haven’t been so stressful. The problem with this strategy is that kicking off before you’ve completed the subject’s required reading may reduce your understanding of the topic. You may also miss out on some great resources for your research. I’m now halfway through my Master of Information Studies, and am just starting to appreciate the importance of ‘thinking time’. By reading the subject modules; thinking, researching the assessment; thinking, planning the assessment, and thinking again, you’re more likely to have a pretty comprehensive understanding of the topic. The hard part is to give yourself that time to think, without panicking that you’re doing nothing and getting nowhere.

These are just three ideas to help improve your work for the next session. Your own ideas would be greatly appreciated, please add them to comments below!

Happy studies,

Rebecca

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