What could have gone better in my first year?
I can officially say that my first year is fully over! I got my results back a few weeks back and although I didn’t do as well as I hoped to, I am pleased that I have passed and can proceed into the second year.
For some courses, you only have to achieve 40% in the first year, but it won’t contribute to your final marks. However, in my year the first year counts for 10% of the final marks. (This could be different in a few years time.)
I reflected back on the whole of my first year on what I performed well in, and what I should improve on. There are a lot of things I could have changed in terms of revision strategies and time devoted towards a particular topic. I’ve made a short summary of some of these points.
1. Labs – these genuinely went well. I not only enjoyed the labs, but I also excelled in the full laboratory reports as well as post labs. If there is anything I could improve on, it would be careless mistakes such as rounding errors in calculations and it could maybe be worth it to do all my prelabs as soon as uni starts. Then I have the whole week left to prepare for labs and do further research. During the laboratory days, the demonstrators are available until 5 pm. I should make more use of this and ask demonstrators for help if needed. Although they can’t help directly with the postlabs, they could help me in terms of understanding any concepts etc.
2. Lectures – I did attend most lectures, however I have to stop showing favouritism. Although there aren’t any modules I hated or anything, there were definitely a few parts of modules that I preferred. Clearly when you have 7/8 topics in a particular module, just choosing one or two is not going to get you very far. What I should have done is focus on the ones I struggled with – Thermodynamics, Simple Solids, d-orbitals, and Symmetry. I must say I spend a lot of time catching up for those parts of the modules. Although those topics are indeed very interesting, they are just more difficult to grasp. If I did focus on my weaknesses, I could have gotten a stronger outcome for my results. This is something I will definitely work on for next year.
3. Tutorials and Workshops – I attended all tutorials and workshops, however I didn’t really use any of this during the revision period. Whereas I believe now that this is what I should have used first to start off the revision or as a checklist to my understanding.
4. Past papers – Since I felt very much under time during the exam period, I didn’t really use any of the past papers for any modules. Many of you would know that past papers are key to revision, therefore I will be using a lot more past papers next year when it comes to studying for my exams.
5. Exam revision – I guess it’s easiest to conclude that I seriously have got to start revision earlier. I have always been a bit of a crammer, and having personal issues on top of it this year didn’t make it any easier for me. But, this is a good lesson learnt for me for the next academic year. I’ve become wiser and I believe that if I manage my time more efficiently and still have those issues on top, I am now in a position where I am able to manage the exams with success nonetheless.
I hope for the freshers this is a good guide as to how to structure your revision and how much dedication you should give in your first year. Exams are tough – but have some faith in yourself and work hard. Hard work has always been the recipe for success.
As a tip don’t let the amount of information thrown at you in your first week or so intimidate you – it will settle in!
Hope everyone’s having a good summer! Only two months left until terms starts again. If anyone has any questions, please get in touch.