Are you spending too much time trying to read your own notes or trying to find that brilliant source? Do you wish you had some guidance when proofreading or editing your assignments? Well, guess what! You do have guidance and it’s all here. Give these study hacks a try and if they don’t fit your style of working, try something else! There are so many ways you can make studying easier and raise your grades in the process.
As a registered student of the CUC Goulburn, you have free access to our Learning Skills Advisor, Bella. You can book in with her via Calendly, join an online Zoom session or simply email any academic concerns you may have. Workshops are run regularly to help strengthen vital skills and Bella is always happy to work through your learning challenges.
Plan your essay using the word-count strategy
Before sitting down to write, reign in your research, consider using the word count strategy to see how many paragraphs you need to write. Your assessment task description might provide some information about how many words to allocate for each section.
A general rule of thumb, for an essay, is as follows:
- Leave 10% for your introduction, 10% for your conclusion, 5% for in-text citations.
- That leaves 75% of the word count for the body paragraphs.
- For a 2000 word essay, that’s 200 words for the introduction, 200 words for the conclusion, and 100 words for in-text citations.
- That leaves 1500 words for the body of your essay – about 5 to 7 paragraphs. Each paragraph is a key point you can cover.
Don’t sweat the small stuff by using an editing checklist. When you’re drafting, it’s a good idea to focus on getting your ideas and research down onto paper. Leave the proofreading until the end. You can keep a checklist of all the things you need to check or fix when you finish. We’ve got a good checklist you can adapt here.
Improve your writing skills with Bella, Learning Skills Advisor at CUC Goulburn
Bella’s background is in academic publishing. She is a qualified editor and English teacher and has worked with a wide range of students, from those who are learning to write academically to those completing working on their doctorates.
Bella can provide you with strategies that will help at any stage of the writing process, and also help explain the features of academic writing.
Academic writing does not come naturally to many people. It is a skill, like any other, that can be learned. Tools like this Academic Phrasebook can be downloaded and kept on hand for referencing as you need. Use this guide when thinking of the content and layout for your own work.
Spelling & Grammar
Spelling and correct grammar are important in all academic writing and give you the chance to earn vital extra marks in an assignment. Simple to use tools, make this process so much easier and quicker. You can be checking as you write, which can be of great assistance in choosing the correct word or phrase to suit. The “Find and Replace” feature in Word, Spellcheck, and Grammarly add-ons is a sure-fire way to up your writing game.
Develop your vocabulary by starting a simple glossary with Google Sheets. As part of note-taking while reading or attending lectures, consider keeping a list of new vocabulary in a simple spreadsheet that you can access online, from any device. You can sort the spreadsheet into alphabetical order, and even add columns for definitions, synonyms, or examples of the word in use.
Manage to reference with Zotero, Endnote, or Mendeley. If you have learned the basics of referencing, and are looking for more efficient ways to keep track of your research, compile reference lists and cite accurately, then consider using an academic referencing manager. The big 3 are Zotero, Endnote, and Mendeley, download them here:
Check out what’s available with academic services at your university. There is a lot of information available at your university to help with writing. Need to make your writing more cohesive? Not sure how to structure a report? Want some pointers on paraphrasing or summarising? Your university will have resources to help with that. Again, if you’re not sure where to start, or can’t find what you’re looking for, talk to your CUC team!
Proofreading before submitting is vital to the overall quality of your work. Ideally, leave yourself some time, prior to the submission date to send off for review with a final edit to be completed before the due date. This way you have given yourself every chance possible to succeed. Through proofreading, you pick up minor grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or comprehension problems.
With the tools suggested above you can be quickly checking things as you go along such as spelling and grammar, but for a thorough run through a good way to pick up errors is to read it out aloud or use the “Talk” function within Word to read back to you, this way you can pause if needed and correct as you go. Once these simple checks are complete send your work off to either your Learning Skills Advisor, Bella, your university academic advisors, or a service such as Studiosity or Smarthinking for feedback. 24/7 support can be great when you are up late at night and struggling. You’re not alone. Asking quick questions, getting feedback halfway through an assignment, or needing particular help on an area, it’s all available to you.
The benefits of completing this final step are two-fold. Your final grade can be greatly improved and you will learn where your common errors lie and therefore giving you the opportunity to convert this feedback into stronger academic writing skills. Check with your university which platform you have access to.
Do you find revision difficult? Do you struggle with exam prep, presentations, or need help embedding the information. There are ways to give yourself a helping hand and truly understand the information you are attempting to learn. From simple tricks like walking, jogging, or gardening while listening with headphones to converting an ebook to audio or simply taking better notes. These are all ways you can support your retention of information.
If you need any help with these hacks or would simply like to speak to someone face-to-face book in with Bella here or she is at the Centre three days per week, happy to do Zoom sessions or drop into the Centre during business hours to chat to Centre Manager, Julia or Cath.