For me, preparation takes the form of identifying four topics that I am going to revise thoroughly, which gives me some flexibility when I get into the exam and see the questions. For instance, if I only revised two topics and the questions for those were much more difficult that I was expecting, I wouldn’t be able to do much about it. However, having two extra questions as a safety net allows me to feel much more confident as I walk in to the exam. Once I have identified the topics I am going to revise, I then work through the relevant material assigned for those topics. This includes going over lecture notes, the required readings and the further readings. Once I have got more familiar with the topic, I’ll move on to creating mind maps for past paper questions. Instead of memorising answers to past papers and then attempting to regurgitate them in the actual exam, I find I perform much better if I try to develop a real understanding of the issues at hand in the topic during my revision. Having a good grasp of the topic better prepares you for any question that might turn up in the exam.
The University of Manchester puts a lot of extra support in place for students during exam time to not only cater for the increase in numbers wanting to study, but also to help make sure students are staying healthy and mindful during this more stressful period. Exam Extra allows students to track where available PCs are across the University’s multiple study spaces, as well as the libraries operating longer opening times. Exam support workshops are put in place to help students practice mindfulness techniques so they can approach a full day of revision in a much more clam and productive manner. During the two exam periods of January and May/June, a two week timetable of sport classes are made available for free to ensure that students can keep healthy and de-stressed. Classes on offer include yoga, swimming, as well as various fitness classes such as interval training and body conditioning.
Indeed, exam periods are more high pressure than elsewhere in the semester, however the support is there for you to make sure you can do your best when that exam dates come. It is also vital that you practice some self-care too during this period. Making sure your sleeping and eating well, as well as taking regular breaks really do help to avoid you burning out.
Once you know what work needs completing and when, it’s time to work out what learning style works best for you. Depending on your course you may have 100% assessed work, 100% exams or a mix of both for your assessment. Studying Politics and Philosophy, my assessment is a mix of both essays and exams. Of course, preparing for both takes slightly different techniques. Studying for an essay tends to involve a lot of reading, allowing time to formulate your ideas and argument, and then getting on with writing it. They traditionally take a bit longer to do, however they are often due half way through the module, before you are swamped with exam dates at the end. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason – start working towards deadlines early! At the beginning of a module, there tends to be a bit more free time before the deadlines start rolling it. My advice is to use that time to get a head start on some of the readings because before you know it, you have deadlines in other modules taking up your time.
Exam revision takes a different technique than preparing for assessed work. A good first step is to make sure you know exactly what content is going to be covered in the exam. In order to do this, make use of lecture slides and notes, and don’t be afraid about asking any questions about the exam format to your lecturer or tutor. Once you know what to focus on, it’s time to develop confidence with your knowledge. Some people revise best by condensing notes into snappy revision cards, or by highlighting their notes, it’s simply about finding out what works best for you. I find it particularly useful to create mind maps for past exam questions with everything relevant that I can remember from my revision, this helps me to formulate and remember plans to replicate in the exam. Whether your exams are essay based, multiple choice or short questions, practising exam papers is great for revision as it gets you comfortable with the structure the exam will take.
I hope these top tips have been useful during your study periods, but always remember, if the workload gets too much – ask for help! There’s tons of support there for you from your Academic Advisor, Course Tutors, to Peer Support. Or if you prefer, chat to other people on your course – it can be a great way to calm nerves to know other people are having the same worries!
Starting university may be the first time you have been financially independent. The thought of having to juggle rent, bills and food costs can be a daunting prospect. But have no fear, there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself a float whilst studying, ensuring there is still enough to spend on enjoying yourself too! Choosing to live at home whilst at university is an attractive option to many, often meaning you get to avoid paying the market rent and buying your own food shopping. The compromise may come however from having to endure a lengthy commute to campus, so it’s worth working out what suits you best. For those that choose to move further afield and go it alone, it’s worth researching rent prices in the area where your preferred universities are. Rents can vary vastly across the UK, with the more expensive rates being located in the South East of England and often cheaper rates in the North. University halls tend to be more expensive than the local market rents, however keep in mind that the price often includes utility and internet bills.
Once you have settled on where you are going to live for university it’s a great idea to get thinking about budgeting. First it is important to make a note of your income during your studies; this can include student loans, grants and part-time jobs. Although getting a part-time job to help fund your living costs may be necessary, it is important to make sure paid work does not compromise your studies. I have worked a part-time job in a café throughout my degree but have always been clear with my manager that I could only take on 12 hours of work a week. Don’t be afraid to say which days or times are best for you when agreeing on your terms of employment. For instance, if your course has a lot of contact hours in the week, you may prefer to only work weekends. Manchester offers a huge variety of available part-time jobs, catering for the student population. If it suits, during the holidays you can always take on more hours to save for the next semester or to help fund your travel plans.
Now you have an idea of where your income will be coming from, make those funds go further by budgeting your living costs. So, make a note of your monthly outgoings, this may include rent payments, utility bills, mobile and internet bills, travel costs, and food shopping. This will help you to identify where you may be able to make cut backs. For instance, perhaps the cost of buying a bus ticket every day is really stacking up? Buying a season ticket for transport can drastically cut down travel costs, in Manchester students qualify for a Stagecoach UniRider, meaning you can make big savings on your bus travel. Cycling to campus is another great way to cut down on your expenditure as well as being a great way to keep fit! In terms of food shopping, try to avoid small ‘metro’ versions of the supermarket chains as the choice is often limited to their more luxury brands. Most supermarkets have a basics range ideal for those trying to stick to a budget. For me, the best way to keep food costs down is to cook big meals in the evenings, making sure there is enough to take for lunch the next day. You can even freeze your leftovers, saving them for times when money is tight or for when you’re feeling lazy!
Keep all these tips in mind and you should manage just fine. If times do get tough though, The University of Manchester offers student money advice, bursaries and a hardship fund for struggling students. Plus the support available from the Students’ Union: so remember, there is support there if you need it!]]>
Looking beyond your weekly lectures and seminars there is so much more you can get out of your student experience on campus. Taking a break from your studies to sit in on a talk from a guest lecturer can be an excellent way to both broaden your horizons past your own course, as well as pursue other interests you may have. The Manchester Debating Union offer the opportunity to get clued up on a wide variety of different issues with their regular debates held at the University. Recent topics include debating the legacy of Barack Obama’s presidency, as well as whether the UK should support the expansion of nuclear power. The debates offer a great opportunity to learn about the concerns central to such issues, and there is no need to be worried about having no prior knowledge. There’s no pressure to join in the discussion, feel free to attend and just soak it all up!
If debating societies aren’t for you, how about getting involved in sports on campus! With a choice of gyms available, including the Armitage Centre, the Sugden Sports Centre, and the Manchester Aquatics Centre, there really is something for everyone. My favourite way to keep fit at university is to attend fitness classes offered in the well-being rooms on campus. As a student you can get subsidised classes offered in eight-week blocks throughout the year. They offer a wide variety of classes and the timetable runs weekdays from 8am until 7.30pm, ensuring everyone can find a class to fit in with their studies. I take part in regular yoga sessions and I find it a great way to de-stress when deadlines are approaching. You can also join in The University of Manchester’s Purple Wave team in the annual Manchester 10K run. Over 1000 students and staff took part last year, and the team is on track for 3000 to take part this year with a target to raise £150,000 for charity. Being part of the Purple Team is a great way to keep motivation high and be a part of something bigger!]]>
Do you require an en-suite or would you be happy to share a bathroom? Would you prefer to prepare your own meals in self-catered halls, or have breakfast and dinner provided in catered halls?
The price of halls of residence vary depending on what is included in the accommodation, so it is really about deciding which is best for you and your budget. I went for the cheap and cheerful option – shared bathroom and self-catered! My halls were relatively basic but we had everything we needed and I enjoyed cooking my own meals. My flatmates and I shared cooking skills and tips with each other, and those who were less confident in the kitchen at the start of the year were pros by the end!
The University of Manchester also guarantees a place in university accommodation for all first year students, as long as you have applied before the deadline at the end of august. There is no need to panic about whether or not you will be offered a place! For international students, the guarantee is also extended over the full duration of your degree.
Before moving into my halls of residence, I remember being pretty nervous about who I was going to be living with and whether we would get on. When moving day arrived, my fears were suitably calmed. Everyone is in the same boat, experiencing the same nerves about not knowing anybody, and all eager to make friends. By the time winter approached, we were all well settled into life in Manchester.
In my second year, I moved into a private rented house together with my flatmates from halls. We wanted to carry on living in Fallowfield where our halls had been. It is just a short bus or cycle ride away from the university and a popular area for students in Manchester to live. There are plenty of student houses to cater for the vast number of students in Manchester, but it is good to get looking early in order to secure a place that suits your budget and is in the area you want to live in. Moving out of halls and into a rented house is a really exciting time, but with more independence of course comes more responsibility! Although it may seem daunting looking to rent your first house, the University provides a lot of support to make this process as stress free as possible. We used the Manchester Student Homes website to find a house to rent. Run by a partnership of Manchester-based universities; it’s a great resource to help with your search. They only list accredited landlords, so you can be sure you are getting a decent home and a fair contract. The Student Union Advice Service can also answer any queries you may have regarding accommodation, but also regarding any financial or personal issues.
My top three things about Manchester:
The area of Ancoats has to be one of my favourite picks. Ancoats boasts a proud history dating back to the industrial revolution, with the first mills being built here in around 1790. It was once densely occupied with working cotton mills centred near the Rochdale Canal that runs right through the heart of the area. Now, the majority of old mills have been turned into flats, but you can still get the feel for the red brick factories as you walk around its cobbled streets. A hidden gem in Ancoats is Rudy’s Pizza. The best pizza I’ve ever tasted hands down. It’s also ideal for students as a margarita comes in at £5.80 and is cooked in one an half minutes flat. The authentic Neapolitan pizza-house is in keeping with the area’s heritage. Ancoats was home to many Italian immigrants that settled in the 19th century, pioneering the British ice cream industry and earning itself the name of Little Italy.
Another firm favourite from the city of Manchester is HOME. HOME is a cinema, theatre and gallery space that merged the old, much loved Cornerhouse cinema and the Library Theatre Company. HOME shows curated films, including world cinema and independent films. As a student, you can get advanced tickets for £5, so you don’t have to break the bank to visit either.
My third and final pick would have to be Rusholme! Home to the Curry Mile, a strip of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants and shops, it’s a great place to get a delicious curry or kebab at any time of the day or night. Although it’s not actually a mile, in fact only half a mile, it’s well worth a visit. Stop by Manchester Superstore to pick up fresh fruit and veg for a fraction of the price of the usual supermarket chains. My favourite place to eat on the Curry Mile has to be the unassuming restaurant named Falafel. It offers the best falafel wraps, packed full of homemade hummus, salads and pickled chillis. Wash it down with a fresh carrot and ginger juice, all for under a fiver!]]>