It is a well-known fact that the Singapore education system encourages competition. It is even more so at the university level where one is competing against those who have goes through various streaming and selection and finally made to the top of the education pyramid. Pressure on study in university is not small, but one’s maturity also increases to cope with the greater pressure. However, maturity itself may not be enough for one to excel. A few tips from an experienced senior may go a long way in boosting your performance in university and enabling you to have a successful university academic study as a result.
Simple: be at the class
The first tip, or rather word of advice, is really that you should attend your lessons regularly. Lecturers seldom take attendance and students therefore have an incentive not to go for lectures, thinking that they can study the same materials in the comfort of their home. That may not be true. Very often, lecturers add value to their slides by explaining a difficult concept in his own words or by giving an example that is too long to be included in the slides. Knowing such extra things actually speed up your learning process, not to mention the lack of distraction during lectures and the opportunity to consult your professors immediately after the lesson, which all contribute to the efficiency of study. Furthermore, you can always bet on the lecturer’s slip of tongue, hence revealing a golden tip or two for exams(provided you listen very carefully). Hence a two-hour lecture may be equivalent to twice or thrice as much duration of study should you do it on your own. This gives rise to the saying that ‘lazy students go to lectures.’
Be selective if necessary
However, it is also not absolute that you need to go for classes. University students are busy with other commitments as well. You may have to attend a club meeting that you find difficult to excuse yourself from. You may have to go for an internship interview that you cannot reschedule. All these are valid reasons for you not to go for classes. However, as much as possible, try to miss a class where there is lecture recording available. Try not to miss a tutorial session as your professors will go into the details of the concepts taught and there usually are no tutorial slides available for reference. In the event you really have to give the tutorial session a miss, you may want to photocopy the worksheet from your classmates who have noted down the correct answers and explanations so that you can study on your own.
The past year papers
The second tip concerns exam revision. Your university will usually give you at least two weeks of revision period where most of the lessons are finishing soon. If you have studied consistently throughout the semester, you have no reason to panic. If you do not study regularly, this is the time for you to catch up with the rest. One important tool for your revision is the past year papers stored in the school libraries. They contain valuable information about the trend and focus of exams. These are 3 ways to use the past year papers most effectively:
• Print them out and do them in a timed environment, just like an exam.
• Review them before you begin your exam revision so that you know the best way to study for your exams. For example, studying for an MCQ exam is very different from that of an essay-based exam.
• Most likely, your professors do not provide answers to those papers, unlike what your high school teachers may do. Therefore it depends on your own initiative to book consultation with your professors and clarify your doubts. Alternatively, you can form a study group with your classmates and cross-check your answers and work on difficult questions together.
Note: Though the past year papers are very useful, you still need to use them with caution. Some professors choose not to disclose the papers he set for exams of recent years, because some important questions may be recycled. If you see a past year paper of many years ago (such as five years ago), chances are the syllabus has been changed or even the person teaching the module has changed so the paper may be set in a very different way. It is always a good idea to check with your professors about the relevance of such papers before you dive into them.
Find your study style
From experience, Digital Senior realizes that finding the right learning style is essential to your productivity in the long run. What is your favorite place of study? At home? In your room in the hall? In the library or some open areas with tables and benches? You will realize that studying in different places may have distinct effect on your level of focus and mental alertness. You may want to spend the first semester in school to try out different places so as to find the most ideal one for you. Moreover, do you prefer learning in a group or learning alone? A study group, if properly formed, can motivate you to study hard because your friends are doing the same. You can work on a difficult problem together instead of cracking your head alone for one hour. However, if you believe you have the sufficient discipline of study, or you prefer the quietness of the environment, studying alone may be a good choice for you. Lastly, if you don’t stay on campus and have to commute to school every day, have you considered studying on the train? Though morning trains can be crowded, you can still hold a book or an iPad and find a corner to read. The reading ideally should not be difficult and does not require constant note taking, so that you can enjoy it in a less conducive environment of train.
There are more tips on how to have a successful academic experience, but the above ones are probably the most important ones that can get you started on the right note. Stay motivated and disciplined, and explore your own study habits and tricks along the way. You are the owner of your study and make the ownership a proud one!