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  • Mon 30 Mar 2015 00:46

    While you might be tempted to pull all-nighters or wait until the last minute to cram (which is regrettably more my style), neither of those study styles are particularly efficient or healthy. 

    As you might know by now, I’m a big proponent of holistic wellness and that doesn’t stop once exam season rolls around. Here are my tips for ensuring that your exam revision goes smoothly while maintaining a balanced life. 

    1. Break up your work into small, manageable chunks

    Research shows that “when you present and repeat information over intervals of time [as opposed to “binges”], you can increase the uptake of knowledge” by up to 50%!  

    Of course, If you’re going to wait until the day before the exam to cram, this isn’t going to work for you. Start early and ensure that you have sufficient time to revise the material that you’re going to be tested on.

    2. Use website-blocking apps to minimise distraction

    It’s so easy to get distracted. Five minutes on Tumblr turns into two hours, and don’t even get me started on Netflix. 

    There are lots of apps out there which will allow you to block certain sites while you’re working. I personally prefer StayFocusd, but your mileage might vary. 

    3. Create mental associations

    Many of my exams involve asking me to relate separate theories to one another. That’s a lot of information to try and keep straight, but sometimes it helps to visualise how different concepts are related. 

    Mind Maps is a free program that lets you map out concepts and relate them to one another. Or if you’re old school like me, a large piece of paper and some markers/Post-Its will do!

    4. Quiz yourself

    The only surefire way of finding out if you know the content is to be tested on it. You don’t want the exam to be the first time you’re being asked. 

    There are online quiz makers, but I prefer using flashcards as you can get more information and details on them. Simply write the question on one side and bullet point answers on the back. If you’re extra fancy you can punch a hole in the top left corner and put a ribbon through it for a portable stack of flash cards. 

    5. Teach someone else

    I often find that I learn best when I explain a theory, concept, or historical situation to another person. If you’re able to successfully explain an academic concept to a friend in a clear and concise manner, you can write about it on the exam. Now, does anyone want to hear me talk about the Frankfurt School? No? Okay. 

    6. Practice exams

    Practice makes perfect, and exams are no different. If you haven’t already found it, the LSE Library has an archive of past exam papers that you can take a look at.

    For my essay-based exams, I find it helpful for anticipating the kinds of questions that will be asked. For more math/problem-based exams, it’s useful to print a bunch of them out and actually practice doing the questions, either by yourself or with a study group (if that’s your style). 

    7. Take regular study breaks

    When I’m tired, I’m way less focused and productive. My mind starts to wander and I read the same content over and over again without absorbing anything. Research has found that “the highest-performing 10 percent tended to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break”. 

    Instead of spending five or six hours studying at 30% focus, take regular study breaks and you might find that you can cut and optimise the amount of time that you spend studying. 

    8. Treat yourself

    Sometimes it is really hard to keep motivated. I love me some critical analyses of politics and communication, but let’s be real, Habermas can get pretty dull after a while. 

    So I’ve set goals and treats for myself to keep myself on track. Ice cream for meeting my dissertation-writing goals for the day, a nice dinner and Netflix for completing a summative essay. Just because you’re hard at work doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things.

    9. Get enough sleep

    Forget the all-nighters, sleep is absolutely essential for helping memory, keeping you focused, sustain attention, and more

    “When students lost sleep because they spent extra time doing schoolwork, they had significantly more problems the next day than when they got their typical amount of sleep.” So put away your books and get a bit more shut-eye. 

    10. Learn what works for you!

    Not all of the above-mentioned tips will work for every single person. Everyone has different learning styles and it’s important to find out what suits you the best. If your best is reading while doing handstands, hey, all the more power to you. 

    Finally, regardless of what happens, remember not to beat yourself up over it. I could write an entire treatise about how absurd it is that exams make up 100% of our grades, but this isn’t the place for it. At the end of the day, they’re just exams and you are worth so much more than that. 

  • Fri 27 Mar 2015 19:32

    Hello again! 

    We have received a response from the Registry that they anticipate a one or two day delay in the release of exam timetables with regard to the original deadline. They will keep us updated, and there may not be a delay at all but they are pre-empting a delay.

    I appreciate that this is a major inconvenience and cause of stress given that exams aren’t far away at all, and again stress how unacceptable this is given it is the second year that this has happened. For an institution that claims to be world leading, this is not world leading service. The provision of exam timetables in a timely fashion is a basic service that should happen seamlessly and without duress to students. 

    If you would like to raise this further, I encourage you all to write to the Director Craig Calhoun. Suggested text below to c.calhoun@lse.ac.uk:

    “Dear Professor Calhoun,

    As a student at LSE I was disappointed to receive an email from LSE informing me that my exam timetable would be released late. Exam timetables are already released later than I would prefer, giving us little time to organise revision over the Easter period. 

    Now, it seems that LSE cannot even meet its own deadline which it has set. 

    Would you please be able to explain why this has happened for the second year in a row? 

    Could you please explain why LSE is unable to meet a deadline it has set itself? 

    Can you please outline what compensatory actions will be taken by the School to address the stress caused by this, as well as the impact this has on international students planning on booking flights? 

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours sincerely, 

    {INSERT NAME HERE}


    We will continue to update you with any further information on this matter. 

    Nona 

    LSESU General Secretary 2014-16

  • Fri 27 Mar 2015 17:05

    Hi everyone!

    I hope you all enjoyed Lent Term and the craziness happening throughout campus. Wanted to update you on what happened at NUS Postgraduate Conference.

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    I went to the National Union of Students (NUS) Postgraduate Conference at the end of February, this is where Postgraduate Officers from across the country gather and discuss what NUS should be campaigning on for the next year for Postgraduates. It was in Milton Keynes and lasted two days, with various workshops, motions and social events.

    One of the main areas discussed was Postgraduate Taught funding, which I’ve been campaigning for with the Financial Support Office here at LSE. We passed a motion which challenges the current settlement on postgraduate taught funding that the government has proposed, in particular to lobby for the funding shifted from the Undergraduate scholarship Programme to the Postgraduate Support Scheme to remain recurring and be used to fund scholarships for students from underrepresented groups. In conjunction I wrote another motion which was to work with groups such as Aim Higher and UUK to promote postgraduate education to students from poor socio-economic backgrounds. I think it’s vital that students up and down the country are not put off by the price tag of postgraduate education, as it is an excellent opportunity for specialization in the respective fields. Additionally we also passed policy on making funding accessible for mature students and living grants to be more widely accessible.

    I’m also delighted to announce that I was elected on to National Executive Council (NEC) of the NUS, as Postgraduate Taught representative. What this means is that for one year I will represent and campaign for postgraduate taught students nationally. There are a range of issues that I have seen affect postgrads, and I can’t reiterate the importance of accessibility – it is one of the main things I will be campaigning for in this new role. If you would like to know more about what happened at the conference please feel free to contact me on su.postgrad@lse.ac.uk!


    Mahamid Ahmed

    LSE SU Postgraduate Students’ Officer