How to improve my grades in second year?

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PinkOwls
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#1
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#1
Hey!

I have just finished my first year at university and I will start my second at the end of September. I am studying International Studies (All to do with politics) and Irish (Language). I have never studied politics before so starting university I wanted to try something new, to get out of my comfort zone and I really enjoy it.

I am disappointed with my results as I finished with a high 2:2 overall. I would spend weeks preparing for an essay that I got a high third on, to be told that I asked too many rhetorical questions in my essay and gave my opinion to strongly on certain events in politics. I understand now that I shouldn't do that as lecturers don't appreciate that. I am trying my damnedest to get a 2:1 or a first but I don't know how. I have missed about two lectures all year due to exceptional circumstances. I haven't got a part time job, I focus the majority of my time on my uni work and it annoys me that my hard work doesn't seem to be paying off. The only thing that I was overly happy with this year was that I did better in second semester, and a module that I got a 3rd on in my essay I ended up getting a 2:1 in the exam due to working my backside off and learning many possible essay questions. I am so much better with exams, but this year my university are doing away with them and bringing in "Open book exams" basically we will be given a topic to study but we won't get the essay questions until a week prior to the exam, this shouldn't be too bad for me as I can prepare for it like I would an exam, but I need to improve.

Has anyone been in this position and could advise me on how to improve for second year and what to do to ensure a great grade this year?

many thanks!!
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Klix88
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#2
Report 5 years ago
#2
You seem to have had good feedback and you have understood it. Your first year is a warm-up year for most courses, where you are developing exactly the sort of skills that you've been asked to work on. Certainly asking rhetorical questions is too indirect. Just make your point - your job is to answer the essay question, not to pose more. Expressing a personal opinion is fine as long as it is well-argued and backed up with referenced sources and facts. Getting too personally involved can impair your ability to present a rational argument - or it can make an otherwise rational argument appear overly emotional and subjective.

Apart from paying attention to feedback - which is the biggie and you already are - look for quick wins to boost percentages. Spellcheck your work before hand-in. Make it look neat, with correct paragraph layout. If the assignment brief specifies font, font size, line spacing etc., make sure you adhere to those. Reference as much of your work as you can. As an undergrad, you are expected to support most of what you say from external sources. Plus it demonstrates the breadth of your reading. Correctly format the bibliography according to your uni's guidelines. It's a pain in the butt to start with, but well worth getting the hang of.
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Schadenfreude65
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#3
Report 5 years ago
#3
If you haven't already, it's worth buying or borrowing a book on essay writing. Do you have any friends on your course who got firsts for their essays? If so, why not ask if you can take a look at an example from last year, compare it with your own, and see if you can understand why theirs scored more highly than yours.
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JustGeorgeJ
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#4
Report 5 years ago
#4
(Original post by PinkOwls)
Hey!

I have just finished my first year at university and I will start my second at the end of September. I am studying International Studies (All to do with politics) and Irish (Language). I have never studied politics before so starting university I wanted to try something new, to get out of my comfort zone and I really enjoy it.

I am disappointed with my results as I finished with a high 2:2 overall. I would spend weeks preparing for an essay that I got a high third on, to be told that I asked too many rhetorical questions in my essay and gave my opinion to strongly on certain events in politics. I understand now that I shouldn't do that as lecturers don't appreciate that. I am trying my damnedest to get a 2:1 or a first but I don't know how. I have missed about two lectures all year due to exceptional circumstances. I haven't got a part time job, I focus the majority of my time on my uni work and it annoys me that my hard work doesn't seem to be paying off. The only thing that I was overly happy with this year was that I did better in second semester, and a module that I got a 3rd on in my essay I ended up getting a 2:1 in the exam due to working my backside off and learning many possible essay questions. I am so much better with exams, but this year my university are doing away with them and bringing in "Open book exams" basically we will be given a topic to study but we won't get the essay questions until a week prior to the exam, this shouldn't be too bad for me as I can prepare for it like I would an exam, but I need to improve.

Has anyone been in this position and could advise me on how to improve for second year and what to do to ensure a great grade this year?

many thanks!!
Hello

It already seems like you have a good idea of where you are heading - keep on that path. You seem to know what you must do and not do and can take support and criticism well.

My advice for you is - focus on what the lecturers are asking of you. I know it sounds cliché but when you get your feedback, really read what they are telling you. Highlight areas you clearly understand, highlight areas you may not understand and then talk to your lecturers about their feedback and let them explain to you in person what you can do to improve this. Once you've done this, create a list of 'things you need to improve' with the biggest area for improvement being first and go from there.

There are support services are university such as student support and they are fantastic at going through assignments and feedback with you.

Hope this helps!
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The Empire Odyssey
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#5
Report 5 years ago
#5
(Original post by PinkOwls)
Hey!

I have just finished my first year at university and I will start my second at the end of September. I am studying International Studies (All to do with politics) and Irish (Language). I have never studied politics before so starting university I wanted to try something new, to get out of my comfort zone and I really enjoy it.

I am disappointed with my results as I finished with a high 2:2 overall. I would spend weeks preparing for an essay that I got a high third on, to be told that I asked too many rhetorical questions in my essay and gave my opinion to strongly on certain events in politics. I understand now that I shouldn't do that as lecturers don't appreciate that. I am trying my damnedest to get a 2:1 or a first but I don't know how. I have missed about two lectures all year due to exceptional circumstances. I haven't got a part time job, I focus the majority of my time on my uni work and it annoys me that my hard work doesn't seem to be paying off. The only thing that I was overly happy with this year was that I did better in second semester, and a module that I got a 3rd on in my essay I ended up getting a 2:1 in the exam due to working my backside off and learning many possible essay questions. I am so much better with exams, but this year my university are doing away with them and bringing in "Open book exams" basically we will be given a topic to study but we won't get the essay questions until a week prior to the exam, this shouldn't be too bad for me as I can prepare for it like I would an exam, but I need to improve.

Has anyone been in this position and could advise me on how to improve for second year and what to do to ensure a great grade this year?

many thanks!!
You're so cute; I love how passionate you are. But I honestly think you're being way too hard on yourself. You've just contested to us that you've never studied Politics before, so of course you're going to find it hard to write in a style you're unfamiliar with.

I was like this. During my 1st uni, I did Ancient History and Classics modules and I was getting low to high 3rds and I just couldn't understand why. Whereas in my Literature module I was getting high 2:2s just off 2:1s. I came to the conclusion it was because I've studied Literature since GCSE and never wrote a a thing about AH or CC before in my life! I changed courses (and unis) realising AH and CC wasn't for me and before I knew it, I was getting 60-66 marks in Literature and Philosophy cause this is what I spent 2 years in A-levels doing.

I also was generally well improved in my essay writing skills as I had to resit 1st year again. And I found that actually that my writing skills improved and I think that's the case with you as long as you act upon the feedback you have.

I would suggest like the posters above maybe get two of academic essay writing books. One on academic literacy and actually knowing where to put your verbs in. As well as having an essay writing book concerning Politics. Having a general understanding of these two can help you a lot more. Personally, the grammar rules of the English Language is far too boring for me to buy a text on that. But maybe just buy a grammar or semantics linguistic book for beginners and look at sentences and so forth.

Does your uni have the Royal Literary Fund/Fellows? They are people with expertise in higher education academic writing and will go through all your errors in your written expression. They will help you to understand where you're going wrong and how to improve without rewording or changing your essays. It's worth a look.

Good luck! :flutter:
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