Exam revision: tips and support

A wooden desk with a Mac laptop, cup of black coffee, notepad and pen and mobile phone.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

This time of year is normally one of the busiest for the Libraries on campus. Instead, the Libraries are currently physically closed and both revision and exams are taking place at homes across the country (and possibly further afield!). While this ‘new normal’ might seem overwhelming at first, in many ways, it’s business as usual. Read on to find out how we can all work together to ensure you have the best possible revision and exam experience.

How the Library can help

First and foremost, Library services haven’t stopped while the University is closed, they’re simply operating differently right now. You’re still able to organize an online one-to-one appointment with your Liaison librarian or request that the Library purchase an e-book to assist your studies.

Your subject-specific guide also contains links to useful journals, databases and eBook collections that are tailored for your course. You may also find it helpful to browse through a list of newly-acquired online resources that the Library have purchased to better enable your studies from home.

There are a number of MCQ (multiple choice question) books available to read online to complement your revision. They cover subjects including: paediatrics, neurology and physiology.

You may also like to look into the services offered by the Writing Development Centre (WDC). Their website has helpful guidance on preparing for exams and what do to during an exam. You can also arrange a one-to-one consultation with a WDC tutor via Zoom to discuss exam and revision strategies.

Library Help remains available 24/7 to assist with your queries –  please send them in via email or live chat. We are also regularly updating Library FAQs to bring you the most up-to-date information. (Hint: if you filter the FAQs to show ‘remote services temporary FAQ’, you’ll only be shown the newest Library FAQs.)

How the University can help

The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) is full of useful advice, covering all aspects of study from how to manage your time effectively to reading and note-taking. ASK also has useful guidance on exams and revision, including where to go for academic advice or personal support.

Following the announcement of lockdown, ASK have made some new resources to assist with online examinations. These are broken down into helpful categories: how to revise for an online exam, what to do before an online exam and exam technique. While you will get details from your School about the specific changes to your exam(s), these pages have really helpful advice on preparing for and succeeding in online assessment.

Before taking an online examination, you may want to look at Newcastle University IT Service’s (NUIT) remote working toolkit. This website contains loads of helpful information, including how to access your University email and documents away from home, as well as how to download a copy of Microsoft Office 365 Professional Plus for your home device.

How you can help

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Choose an area in your home to work in that’s best suited to your needs. This might be a bedroom, kitchen or office space. You may want to consider making some adjustments to your existing desk (or kitchen table!) to avoid causing an injury. If possible, choose to work in an area that has plenty of natural light and is well-ventilated.

Build yourself a realistic revision planner, with plenty of breaks factored in. You won’t be able to revise everything in one day so breaking down topics into manageable chunks is essential. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and a good night’s sleep are also key to revision success.

Remember to take regular study breaks to stay hydrated, get fresh air and clear your mind. You’re unlikely to revise effectively without regular breaks and time away from your work. There are a number of activities and resources on the Library’s website for things you can do while taking a break. These include seated desk yoga, colouring in sheets and mindfulness exercises.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Health and Wellbeing services or the Student Union’s Mental Health & Wellbeing site. These services are still available despite the University being physically closed.

From all of us in the Library, good luck and study well!

GUEST POST – LAW EXAM REVISION WEBSITES AND TIPS

Law Reports

Hi I’m Caitlin, and as a final year law student I would say I’m used to exams by now!

I’m going to give you my top  5 resources for exam revision techniques, and top 5 exam resources to get you all set up for May’s exams.

TOP 5 EXAM REVISION TIPS:

  1. Focus on seminars – seminar questions are often set to prepare you for the exam, whether it’s a key case, precedent or the best way to tackle a problem question! It’s definitely worth spending that extra time preparing and doing seminars, so that you can go over these as an exam topic.
  2. Make notes as you go along – you might not always have time but spend an extra hour or so after the lecture making revision notes, and highlighting the key cases/points of law. You’ll thank yourself when it comes to exam time.
  3. Make essay plans – identify the key points of law, and look at past exam papers to see what could be asked.
  4. Identify your weak spots early and go to your tutor/seminarist/lecturer to iron them out now.
  5. Don’t rely on preparing topics – if the exam has 3 questions for you to answer, don’t just learn three topics! Always learn a few more topics than you have to answer.

TOP 5 REVISION RESOURCES:

  1. Elawresources – good case summaries to break down the points of law in really basic terms.
  2. Learnmore: Expand your legal mind – has everything from preparation to moots, to videos and presentations!
  3. Concentrate Revision Guides – these cost around £5-10 each but really break down key points of law.
  4. BAILII – British and Irish Legal Information Institution.
  5. Lecture revision sessions – most lecturers will put these on, but make the most of them by emailing/preparing in advance what topic/area you’d like to see covered.

Good luck in your exams, they’ll be over before you know it!

GUEST POST – OFF THE SHELF

Off the Shelf poster

Hi! I’m Caitlin, a final year law student and law library aide – and by now I’m used to the stress of exams and deadlines.

I tried the ‘poetry-pick me up’ after going into the common room for a revision break.

I stumbled across Sue (@kind_curious) in the Law School Student Common Room, where she asked, ‘do you want a poem?’. Not really knowing what to expect, I had to overcome a bit of social awkwardness! I was surprised by Sue’s passion and love of poetry, which was clear in the way she spoke about how she’d used poetry in the NHS before and it was what she enjoyed most.

I was asked questions about my current stress levels and how I was feeling with exams, and how I dealt with stress. I told her that when I get stressed I talk even more than usual, which for anyone who knows me sounds like I’m going at a million miles an hour, and she suggested something that would relax me.

I laughed as I saw no signs of chocolate or Netflix – my usual go to relaxation strategies.

Instead she said I needed something like a lavender bubble bath – again I saw no sign of a bubble bath in the Law School and I’d yet to find one in the Dungeon.

She picked out two poems that would make me feel like the relaxing in lavender: she suggested ‘Sonnet’ by Elizabeth Bishop and Shennagh Pugh’s ‘What if This Road’.

What if this road reminded me of Robert Frost’s ‘A Road Not Taken’, and was great for me as a an indecisive person. It was matched perfectly to the questions that Sue had asked me, as I read it as a  ‘roll with it’ approach to life, which is definitely needed to cope with exams and deadline stress.

The second poem, Bishop’s ‘Sonnet’, had great visualisation techniques, almost like a meditative poem – which was spot on to turn off the stress and slow everything down!

The experience was a great switch off from deadline stress, and a great use of the 10 minutes which I’d usually scroll through twitter or Instagram. It was something different, and really quite unique and relaxing, which I would definitely recommend to help have a break from any exam and deadline stress!

Thinking about study space

During the exam period library study spaces are at a premium and it is important to think in advance about the kind of study space that you need.

Whether you require a silent, quiet, or collaborative study space, a group study room or booth, or an individual accessible study room, there are a variety of open access and bookable study spaces located across our four library buildings (Philip Robinson, Walton, Law, and Marjorie Robinson).

It is possible to check live study space availability online or by using the university app. This will allow you to head straight for the nearest available study space and therefore avoid wasting valuable time searching for a desk.

You can also book a group study room or booth online for a maximum of 120 minutes per day. This will allow you to get together with fellow students to plan and allocate some guaranteed study time prior to your next exam.

Study Well@NCL, which runs throughout the exam period, advocates a responsible approach to studying and encourages positive behaviours in study spaces. Remember, it is key to choose the right environment that meets your study needs, to stay hydrated, and to respect the students and study space around you.

Thinking about study space in advance can help to remove a lot of unwanted stress and thus free up valuable energy that will aid both your revision focus and exam preparation.

Exams: we are here to help

Woman throwing books up in the air

Exams are a tricky time. Often you will be juggling different exams themselves, on top of other deadlines. However, we want you to know that you aren’t alone at this crazy time of year. We are here to help you through.

But how exactly can we help? Sadly, we can’t take go into the exam with you, or magically freeze time to give you more hours in the day, but do make the most of the following:

  1. Library Help – the place to go when have a question via chat, email, text, twitter, Facebook. Or alternatively search our Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) database.
  2. Librarians – yes you heard right. Book a one-to-one appointment to get the best out of the University Library resources. Also remember our staff in every library are friendly and approachable. There is no such thing as a silly question, so ask away!
  3. Study Space – The University Library has a range of different study rooms and spaces to suit your needs.
  4. 24/7 – The Philip Robinson Library is open 24/7 during the exam period. We want you to sleep and get enough rest, but if you do need to study through the night, we are here.
  5. Subject guides – we have a range of subject guides put together by expert librarians which draw together all the main resources for your studies.
  6. Be well@NCL collection – we don’t just have books for study. This new collection includes tried and tested books that support your wellbeing.
  7. Additional support – don’t suffer and please don’t be shy. You can seek additional support from your NUSU, Student Wellbeing Service, Nightline and the University chaplaincy.

So remember……pace yourself, access the help you need and believe that you can do this!

Study Well @ NCL – What’s going on in the Walton Library

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Returning to University in January means one thing: it’s time to start revising for your exams. Study Well @ NCL is a campaign run by the Library, NUSU (Newcastle University Students Union) and NUIT (Newcastle University IT Service) advocating a responsible approach to studying and encouraging positive behaviours in study spaces. We all know it can be stressful at this time of the year – but we’re here to make things easier. So, what exactly are we doing?

Extended Opening Hours

Here in the Walton Library from 6th – 24th January, 2020 we’ll be extending our opening hours opening from 8:30 until midnight, Monday to Friday and 10AM until midnight on weekends. You can check our extended opening times here on the Library website.

Noise Alert Service

We’ll be monitoring our Noise Alert phone very closely during this time. Wherever you are in the Walton, you can text us at 07891 484764 and we’ll investigate the source of the noise issue as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Library Help to report a noise complaint.

Housekeeping

During busy periods staff will be checking to see:

  • where seats are available (and clearing unattended desks after 30 minutes of inactivity).
  • that bins are emptied.
  • that bathrooms are clean.
  • that walkways are kept clear.

How you can help

Choose a study space suited to your preferred choice of study. There are silent, quiet and collaborative study spaces to choose from. Please be considerate of fellow Library users.

Do be mindful of the food and drink policy within your chosen study area. Remember, you can only eat hot and strong smelling food in the café area.

Let staff know if there’s something that’s been missed. It’s not always possible for us to know if there’s a shortage of towels in the bathroom or if a waste bin needs emptying. Please contact us if you notice something and we’ll do our best to fix it straightaway.

Looking after yourself

We encourage all Library users to take regular study breaks. Taking the time to get a drink of water or some fresh air can make all the difference to your study session. Why not stop by our display table (located near the main entrance) and pick up a Sudoku puzzle or desk yoga instructions? However, to be fair to all Library users, we’re asking that breaks away from your study space are no more than 30 minutes.

Colour your Campus

On lighter note, we’ll be providing pens, pencils and colouring sheets for you to relax and unwind with. Hand your completed sheet in to a member of Library staff with your name or Twitter handle on the back and we’ll display it in the Library and enter your masterpiece into a draw to win some fabulous Library prizes.

Off The Shelf

Sue Spencer returns to the Walton Library on Thursday 16th January (3-5PM) to dispense personalised poetry pick-me-up’s designed to soothe and inspire. Take a study break, chat with Sue and receive your own poetry prescription. You can find out more about Off The Shelf here.

We hope that Study Well @ NCL provides you with a peaceful and productive study environment and allows you to achieve maximum studying satisfaction. We welcome feedback on how we can change or improve Study Well @ NCL. You can ‘Tell Us What You Think’ online or get a form in the Walton Library.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Wellbeing Team or NUSU Student Welfare. They’re there to help.

We wish you every success with your exams – study well!

2020 Reading Challenge

Not one for New Year’s Resolutions? Well, how about a challenge?

Why not try a 20-minute-a-day-reading-for-pleasure challenge?

Pick something from the Law in Literature and Medicine in Literature collections, something from the Philip Robinson Library, or your own book shelves, and start today!

We all know that reading for pleasure is a good thing – pleasure is good! But it’s good for de-stressing, positive wellbeing, conversation, imagination, empathy, a break, engagement… READaxation! Don’t just take my word for it, click HERE for research by The Reading Agency.

Of course, if you read more than 20 minutes then… YES!

Share what you’re reading with your friends and family, colleagues and fellow students, comment on here, or even the social media world – #ReadingChallenge.

GUEST POST: Reflections on my First Year

Law Reports

Caitlin, a final year Law student, shares some advice for getting through the first year at Newcastle Law School.

About Me:

My name is Caitlin Stiles, I am a fourth (and Final Year) Law Student, and have recently come back from doing a Year Abroad in Groningen, The Netherlands. Alongside my degree studies, I am a Law Library Aide and the Law School’s Employment and Enterprise Representative.

As a Law Student myself, I know how first year feels and the first few weeks can be really overwhelming – don’t worry! Get used to the city, the degree, the accommodation and it all gets easier (and more enjoyable) over time.

I am writing this blog post to reflect on my First Year, as a Fourth Year Student (hindsight is a beautiful thing)! I’ll give you my top tips and what to do (and not to do), to hopefully make your law life a little easier.

My First Year:

Looking back, I entered First Year somewhat naively and thought that I would easily get the same grades as I got at A level. I soon learnt that there was a jump to make and spent the first few weeks worrying that my formative results were no longer in the eighties – trust me an eighty at A Level is very different in the degree! Your marks will improve over time as you get used to legal research.

I learnt quite quickly that headings in essays are your best friend, and can make a difference big difference in the clarity of your work.

It is also really important to balance your time. I know that First Year (and especially the first year deadlines) can be what seems like the most stressful semester of your life. Don’t take the “First year doesn’t count attitude”, because employers in final year will ask for an explanation – but having said that DO manage your time and get involved as much as possible!

Balance your degree with what you’re interested in, whether that’s a night on the Bigg Market, Sports Wednesdays or relaxing at your accommodation. First year is as much about getting to know Newcastle and student life, as it is about learning the skills that you’re taught – just make sure to strike a fair balance!

The Eldon Society offers so many opportunities (legal and non – legal) so do get involved, and there is no better time than first year to get involved so you can really grow and become part of the society and what it has to offer!

In regards to the degree and time management – figure out what works best for you! I personally found a 9-5 day was best for me (but didn’t learn this until second year!) I did all my seminar work, reading etc in the day by going to the library 9 to 5, and taking rest breaks and then having the evenings and weekends free to ‘de-stress’ and socialise. Secondly, your degree is not a competition, share notes, thoughts and revision tips with each other – this isn’t ‘Suits’, helping each other really does help you learn and succeed!

Seminars are the most valuable part of university teaching, a lot of the time they are really focused on helping prepare for the exam – so spend that extra half hour really preparing for the seminar and asking anything you’re unsure about – even if it only seems small!

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask – again this took me time to learn and to overcome fears of speaking in seminars and lectures! However, it really will surprise you how helpful lecturers, classmates and even those in the legal profession can be if you take the time to ask!

Study Well@NCL – What we’re doing in the Walton Library.

As you may have already seen Study Well@NCL advocates a responsible approach to studying and encourages positive behaviours in study spaces because we know it can be stressful especially at certain times of the year.

Extended Opening Hours

Here in the Walton Library from 7th-25th January 2019 we’ll be extending our opening hours opening from 8:30 until midnight, seven days a week. You can check our extended opening times on the library website.

Noise Alert Service

We’ll also be monitoring our Noise Alert phone very closely during this time. Wherever you are in the Walton, you can text us at 07891 484764 and we’ll investigate the source of the noise issue as soon as possible.

Housekeeping

During busy periods staff will be checking to see:

  • where seats are available.
  • that bins are emptied.
  • that bathrooms are clean.
  • that walkways are kept clear.

How you can help

  • Choose a study space suited to your preferred choice of study, we have silent, quiet and collaborative spaces to chose from.
  • Do be mindful of the food and drink policy within your chosen study area.
  • We might not always know straightaway if there’s a shortage of towels in the bathroom or if a bin in a group study room needs emptying. Just give us a quick heads up if you notice something that needs our attention and we’ll be right on it.

Looking after yourself

We encourage all Library users to take regular study breaks. Taking the time to get a drink of water or some fresh air can make all the difference to your study session.[1] However, to be fair to all Library users, we’re asking that breaks away from your study space are no more than 30 minutes.

Colour your Campus

On a much lighter note, we’ll be providing pens, pencils and special medical-themed colouring sheets for you to relax and unwind with. Studies have shown that colouring can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults.[2] So while you’re taking a study break, why not pause and Colour Your Campus? Even better, hand your completed sheet in to a member of Library staff with your name or Twitter handle on the back and we’ll enter it into a draw to win some fabulous Library prizes.

We hope that Study Well@NCL provides you with a peaceful and productive study environment and allows you to achieve maximum studying satisfaction. We welcome feedback on how we can change or improve Study Well@NCL. You can Tell Us What You Think’ online or get a form in the Walton Library.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Wellbeing Team or NUSU Student Welfare. They’re there to help.

We wish you every success with your exams – Study well.

References

[1] Flett, J., Lie, C., Riordan, B., Thompson, L., Conner, T. and Hayne, H. (2017). Sharpen Your Pencils: Preliminary Evidence that Adult Coloring Reduces Depressive Symptoms and Anxiety. Creativity Research Journal, 29(4), pp.409-416.

[2] Selig, M. (2019). How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/changepower/201704/how-do-work-breaks-help-your-brain-5-surprising-answers [Accessed 2 Jan. 2019].

 

 

Our Academic Skills Kit (ASK) is here to support you through revision

How about using the Academic Skills Kit (ASK) if you need support during revision.

You can find it on the Academic Skills Guides and it can give you loads of useful help and tips at this stressful time.

https://libguides.ncl.ac.uk/finding

Lots to choose from but the link below might be the most helpful

https://internal.ncl.ac.uk/ask/exams-revision