Preparing for English and/or History at Warwick
I know the experiences of the current Year 13s will be very different to my own when beginning to think about preparing for university in the autumn. Just to make clear: it is very early, and you do not need to prepare right now!! Please do whatever keeps you happiest in these strange times, and if you find work stressful, or thinking about uni is not helpful, you do not need to start preparing. Warwick will contact you a few weeks before you begin with some optional reading and further guidance, so there is absolutely no need for you to worry about this! However, for some of you who are looking for something to occupy your time with which might help you in a few months time, I wanted to offer some ideas to get you started.
This is a fairly obvious one, but the best in my opinion. ENGLISH: I would recommend beginning your reading before you start (I definitely wished I had when we were assigned all 900 pages of Middlemarch just after Christmas). Have a look at the module websites if you can to see what you will need to read next year. You’ll thank yourself next year if you’ve already read the more hard-going or longer texts, because reading can be so time-consuming when you have other tasks and commitments. Getting a head start can also be a great confidence booster when the world of uni is new, and is certainly one fewer thing to worry about. The core texts are the best place to start, but reading around them is also worthwhile (by that I mean other texts by the same author, or texts within the same genre etc). Having said that, you don’t even need to confine your reading to the course. Read what you enjoy, and read as broadly as you can. The best foundation you can give yourself is to have a wide-ranging understanding of literature, and that is by no means limited to the reading list. HISTORY: Whilst you won’t have set reading in the same sense as English students, there is still reading you can do which will help you in the long run. Just to keep your brain ticking and thinking critically about history, why not try a popular history book? Although you probably won’t know what modules you’ll be doing next year and therefore can’t focus your reading exactly on what you’ll be studying, you can still read up on topics you find interesting – chances are, you’ll get the opportunity to study them at some point! You have such a long gap between school and uni, so this is a really good way to keep yourself engaged with your subject and find the joy in it.
Keep what you’ve learned at A Level in mind
You will be surprised how much overlap there is in content. Don’t think that Sixth Form was a waste by any stretch – the content and skills will inevitably pop up again at some point, even if you weren’t examined on them. HISTORY: The kind of background knowledge you will have picked up is unexpectedly useful. I surprise myself regularly in seminars when I can relate some seemingly useless history trivia from A Levels stored at the back of my memory to the topic at hand. Maybe remind yourself of what you spent the last two years learning at some point in the coming months, just to keep it fresh in the mind. ENGLISH: It’s unlikely that you will study a text from A Levels again in First Year, but that doesn’t mean you should forget all about them! There are many times when you can spot links between what you’ve studied before, whether that’s the same author, similar literary techniques, or within the same genre.
Look for your subject everywhere
This might take you back to the joyous days of writing your personal statement. Listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, follow it in the news; look for ways to engage with English and/or History around you. These are some of the best ways to enjoy your subject and learn a little bit more – without having to spend your time at a desk. This is my top recommendation for the time being; my previous tips are more active, and it is VERY early to start properly preparing for uni. With these kinds of methods, you can take a more leisurely approach but still reap the benefits.
Hopefully you can see from this post that the best way to prepare for uni at this stage is simply by staying engaged with your subject. There is no checklist I can give you, nor a minimum quota to meet in order to be fully ready to face uni. People will come in having done such a range of preparation, so please don’t feel any pressure to do a certain amount. Do as much as you feel like you want to, and only if it will make you feel better!