Wednesday, 29 April 2009

What I should have done to get a 2:1

Picture used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License : please consult before re-use.
Picture credit: Twice25

I've been thinking about this because I wrote an article for EzineArticles on Revision Tips for Slacker Students and that made me consider about how it applied to me. I got a 2:2 a few years back myself, partly due to ill-health but also as a result of a lack of 'smarts'. I was smart, I just didn't have 'smarts', if you see what I mean. I was insufficiently worldly-wise (or college-wise) to pick up on the tricks and tips that leverage your classification up those crucial few points.

So if I could go back in a time machine, what would I do differently? Well, based on the results obtained, I would make vastly more use of my mp3 player (which is a cute little Muvo, half the price of an iPod and does everything I need it to do. It's been dropped, sprayed with water and has skulked around the bottom of my packed handbag for a couple of years now, and yet it still works like clockwork).

Basically I had a kind of a breakdown in my second year – I say kind of, because it amounted to regular, prolonged and very unpleasant panic attacks. These made traditional revision techniques very nearly impossible due to the malaise and fatigue they resulted in even when over. So I had to try something else and hit on the option of recording all my lecture notes onto my Muvo, then just lying in the dark and listening to it. (I realise this isn't exactly a revolutionary method now – or even then – but I hadn't tried it myself). This amounted to, I'd estimate, maybe 70% of my revision for my second year exams.

What were the results? Well, I didn't ace every test, or anything. But I did pass everything, with quite tolerable grades, average-to-good for the most part. Which surprised me, considering my state for half of the year.

What is really interesting is that my mental and physical health was much better in my third year. I considerably reduced my use of this technique as a result, and returned to conventional study methods. And what was the result of that? Errrr, average – not average-to-good, note – results across the board. Except for the one low-credit module I actually failed, but that's a story for the next post.

And that was after a year of working away at much more labour-intensive techniques than listening to my little Muvo. Drat. Kids, it's not an original thought, but sometimes it really is more important to work smart than to work hard. Although working hard, smartly, is the preferred option, always, and the one I recommend to you.

I'll detail my other illuminations on what I should have done to get a 2:1 during my degree course in another post.