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How to get a first in coursework if you are a procrastinator Watch

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    First of all, I don't want to come off as encouraging procrastination by any means. I think it's a terrible habit, and it may even ruin lives if it gets out of hand. It is imperative to develop a good work ethic on a path to success in the long run.

    With that said, stuff happens. Life gets in the way, and you end up with a situation in which you have only 2 days before the deadline for a major coursework. In that case, you should be looking for a short-term solution instead of wallowing in self-pity. Although it may feel like you can barely scrape a 2.2 with so little time in hand, that's far from the truth. The reason many people consistently get 2.2s or mediocre 2.1s usually has to do with how they work, rather than for how long.

    Fun fact: I got 55-65 on essays that I spent weeks on, whereas I got 68-78 on essays I wrote in just one or two days. Now I can hear you say, "That sounds great! It means the less I work on an essay, the better I will do in it!" Now hold on my friend! Anyone who has taken a statistics course will know that "correlation does not imply causation". The truth is, there were many other factors that contributed to my success in my stronger essays, such as my personal interest in the subject and my ability to fully comprehend the question and stay focused on it. With my weaker essays, I wasted a lot of time reading journal articles which were interesting but bore little relevance to the essay title, which caused me to deviate from the question that I was supposed to answer.

    I'm a law student so my tips are tailored for social science assignments, but they can be tweaked accordingly for other subjects too.

    To put everything in a nutshell:
    1. Understand the question. This is very important! Read it 100 times if that's what it takes, but make sure that you know the question inside out.
    2. Determine what the relevant lectures and tutorials are, and review your notes from them. Ideally you will have gone to all your lectures and tutorials so that you have good notes and at least a rough understanding of the material, but it's not the end of the world if you haven't.
    3. Look at sample first class essays if your tutor has provided you with them. Usually they won't be perfect, so don't take them for gospel. However, they should give you a good idea of what is expected of an essay of first class standard. Pay close attention to their writing style.
    4. Start with your further reading list to explore the academic literature on the topic. Do not get too intimidated by unfamiliar jargon for now, just try to make sense of what they are saying.
    5. Whenever you see an interesting point in articles, take a note of it. Usually academics will cite others with opposing views, along with their own rebuttal. Go and find those opposing articles and make up your own mind about them.
    6. If this is an undergraduate course, your tutors do not expect you to reinvent the wheel. They are merely looking for indicators of a student who has done her research on the topic. The authors of academic articles spend months and/or years on their research; make sure to take advantage of this! Of course I don't mean copy their work and try to sell it as yours, but do avail yourself of their extensive citations to expand your research in the area.
    7. Don't leave your referencing 'till the last minute. You'll thank me for it later.
    8. Speaking of referencing, I assume that you know what format your tutors prefer to see, and you have familiarised yourself with the requirements of that format. If not, this should be your Step 1.
    9. After around 4-5 hours, you will have skimmed through a vast body of journal articles to form an opinion on the topic, and have taken notes on them in your own words to use in your essay. Now start writing! I don't care how crappy your introduction is, just write it already. Trust me it gets better as you go.
    10. Rule of three is your best friend. Have three main ideas to develop in your essay. Your thesis should include these ideas in a nutshell, along with your own conclusion. My tried-and-true formula for developing each point is to first introduce factual (i.e. undisputed) information (usually things you will have picked up from your lectures), then to cite one or two renowned academics who agree with me on this issue, along with their own justification. Then I cite someone who disagrees with the aforementioned academics, only to rebut their point with something I came up with myself, backed up by another academic. The icing on the cake is a forward-looking conclusion on this point in hand.
    11. After you finish your essay, get somebody to read it for you. Go and grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake while they do their proofreading. Then come back and look at it again. Just keep polishing your essay until you feel ready to submit or the deadline comes.
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    (Original post by Ratach)
    First of all, I don't want to come off as encouraging procrastination by any means. I think it's a terrible habit, and it may even ruin lives if it gets out of hand. It is imperative to develop a good work ethic on a path to success in the long run.

    With that said, stuff happens. Life gets in the way, and you end up with a situation in which you have only 2 days before the deadline for a major coursework. In that case, you should be looking for a short-term solution instead of wallowing in self-pity. Although it may feel like you can barely scrape a 2.2 with so little time in hand, that's far from the truth. The reason many people consistently get 2.2s or mediocre 2.1s usually has to do with how they work, rather than for how long.

    Fun fact: I got 55-65 on essays that I spent weeks on, whereas I got 68-78 on essays I wrote in just one or two days. Now I can hear you say, "That sounds great! It means the less I work on an essay, the better I will do in it!" Now hold on my friend! Anyone who has taken a statistics course will know that "correlation does not imply causation". The truth is, there were many other factors that contributed to my success in my stronger essays, such as my personal interest in the subject and my ability to fully comprehend the question and stay focused on it. With my weaker essays, I wasted a lot of time reading journal articles which were interesting but bore little relevance to the essay title, which caused me to deviate from the question that I was supposed to answer.

    I'm a law student so my tips are tailored for social science assignments, but they can be tweaked accordingly for other subjects too.

    To put everything in a nutshell:
    1. Understand the question. This is very important! Read it 100 times if that's what it takes, but make sure that you know the question inside out.
    2. Determine what the relevant lectures and tutorials are, and review your notes from them. Ideally you will have gone to all your lectures and tutorials so that you have good notes and at least a rough understanding of the material, but it's not the end of the world if you haven't.
    3. Look at sample first class essays if your tutor has provided you with them. Usually they won't be perfect, so don't take them for gospel. However, they should give you a good idea of what is expected of an essay of first class standard. Pay close attention to their writing style.
    4. Start with your further reading list to explore the academic literature on the topic. Do not get too intimidated by unfamiliar jargon for now, just try to make sense of what they are saying.
    5. Whenever you see an interesting point in articles, take a note of it. Usually academics will cite others with opposing views, along with their own rebuttal. Go and find those opposing articles and make up your own mind about them.
    6. If this is an undergraduate course, your tutors do not expect you to reinvent the wheel. They are merely looking for indicators of a student who has done her research on the topic. The authors of academic articles spend months and/or years on their research; make sure to take advantage of this! Of course I don't mean copy their work and try to sell it as yours, but do avail yourself of their extensive citations to expand your research in the area.
    7. Don't leave your referencing 'till the last minute. You'll thank me for it later.
    8. Speaking of referencing, I assume that you know what format your tutors prefer to see, and you have familiarised yourself with the requirements of that format. If not, this should be your Step 1.
    9. After around 4-5 hours, you will have skimmed through a vast body of journal articles to form an opinion on the topic, and have taken notes on them in your own words to use in your essay. Now start writing! I don't care how crappy your introduction is, just write it already. Trust me it gets better as you go.
    10. Rule of three is your best friend. Have three main ideas to develop in your essay. Your thesis should include these ideas in a nutshell, along with your own conclusion. My tried-and-true formula for developing each point is to first introduce factual (i.e. undisputed) information (usually things you will have picked up from your lectures), then to cite one or two renowned academics who agree with me on this issue, along with their own justification. Then I cite someone who disagrees with the aforementioned academics, only to rebut their point with something I came up with myself, backed up by another academic. The icing on the cake is a forward-looking conclusion on this point in hand.
    11. After you finish your essay, get somebody to read it for you. Go and grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake while they do their proofreading. Then come back and look at it again. Just keep polishing your essay until you feel ready to submit or the deadline comes.
    Thank you, this is excellent. Seems like logical steps to follow. Finding the motivation to follow it through though.. :erm::lol: +1
 
 
 
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