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September 23rd, 2020

Student Voices: Current Students’ Top Tips for a Successful Academic Year

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Blog editor

September 23rd, 2020

Student Voices: Current Students’ Top Tips for a Successful Academic Year

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Edited by Yasmin Frischemeier

We surveyed second and third year IR students to gather their top tips to help you have a successful academic year – here’s what they had to say!

Learn how to read
  • “Reading is the foundation of your LSE education. With around two formal contact hours per module per week, the bulk of your IR knowledge will come from the essential readings assigned to you.”
  • “Study strategically! Do all the assigned work you can, but also be sure to have smart time management strategies and prioritise getting the main arguments of readings.”
  • “Even though we all slip up occasionally and fall behind on readings, it will really benefit you to be consistent with them throughout the year. You can either read them and take notes as they come, or end up scrambling before exams.”
  • “Try to do your readings after your lectures but before your classes if your timetable allows it. It’s a lot easier to understand academic articles if you’ve already had a professor explain the basic concepts to you.”
  • “Approach your readings strategically – each one is assigned for a reason. If you’re not sure what is relevant in a reading, and there isn’t enough guidance on reading lists, take a look at the past exam questions for that course, which are available online. They will involve key questions that the readings are designed to help you answer. Focus on identifying key points of information and using the abstract and introduction to solidify what those are before diving in.”
  • “You don’t need to look at further readings every week. Those are there to help you when you’re writing essays or revising specific weeks to deepen your understanding. If you try to read them all each week, you’ll have no time for anything else.”
  • “It’s going to be hard to get through your readings at first, but everyone else feels that way too. It gets better!”

 

Keep organised
  • “Going from school to university is a big transition – you go from having a highly regimented and pre-planned day to 8 contact hours a week and a ton of free time. Keeping on top of your work by staying organised is the key to success.”
  • “Plan, plan, plan. You know when your classes are each week, so stay on top of your work so it doesn’t overwhelm you.”
  • “Set aside chunks of time every week to read.”
  • “Download your readings and put them in labelled folders so they’re easily accessible when it comes time to take notes.”
  • “It may seem like a drag but write down the proper citation for the article you’re taking notes on. It makes it so much easier when it comes time to write essays or for referencing what you’re talking about in class (nobody knows what ‘the third reading’ in your notes was).”
  • “Be consistent. You’re going to be grateful for a good organisational system when it’s time to revise for exams.”

 

Take advantage of the available resources
  • “Attend classes with questions. Try to gain as much as possible from them.”
  • “If you feel stuck, take advantage of office hours to brainstorm with your teachers or professor before an essay is due.”
  • “Try out the study skills sessions at LSE Life!”
  • “If you have course-specific questions, seek guidance from your class teacher first. They know that content best.”
  • “As obvious as this sounds, the library is the best place to start. I’ve found office hours to be incredibly helpful as well.”
  • “Talk to your teachers, they’re actually quite nice. It’s easy to come across as harsh via email or in essay feedback, but they actually want to see you improve.”
  • “Make sure to schedule in-person feedback after your essays are marked. It’s so much better to talk about it than fixate on the numbers, and your teachers really want to help you.”
  • “If you’re really struggling, reach out to your academic mentor or to Luca!”
  • “Collaborate as much as possible with other students. If a friend does well on an essay, ask to read it. Make friends with older students and ask for their old essays and relevant feedback.”

 

Don’t doubt yourself!
  • “I wish I would have been told that I’m not supposed to know every answer and that learning is a process.”
  • “Don’t be overwhelmed by the people who constantly talk in class and use big words/seem to know everything. Chances are you’ll get similar grades to them anyway.”
  • “Everyone is in the same boat.”
  • “In the end, there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Make an effort, in the beginning, to get to know people and become familiarised with the new environment you’re settling into. Everything will go smoothly from there.”

 

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