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First uni assignment

I have recently started an English literature BA degree, and I am looking ahead at the assignments that we are going to complete in a few weeks, and I'm just worried about not 'getting it right'. I understand that my first assignment is probably not going to be my best and I can only my best, and take it as a learning experience but I want to do well. I don't want to knock my confidence too badly.

Within that, is the question to myself: am I taking enough notes; taking notes of the right thing?

What I'm asking is, what advice would you give to someone looking ahead to completing their first university assignment, and looking to up their note taking game?
Reply 1
Like you said, this is a learning experience. It's your first assignment, so it's probably what they call a "formative" assessment (i.e. it doesn't count for anything). It's pressure-free and is designed only to help you improve. That said, your department probably has assessment criteria, so be sure to read it carefully. This will guide you on how to construct your answer.

I get that you obviously want to do well and hit the ground running, but genuinely the best thing is to write it, see what they say and then learn from it. Afterwards, reflect on how you used your notes in the process of writing the assignment, try to see whether it worked or not, and adapt your note-taking accordingly. Maybe you write too much, or too little. Maybe you need bullet points rather than continuous prose. It's a totally personal thing. The entire first year is your opportunity to experiment, and you can only know what changes to make after you've been assessed.

And I think just change your attitude to it as well. You're not in competition with anyone, the lecturers aren't going to put you in a remedial class, or anything like that. If you think about it like that, it can't possibly knock your confidence, because there is absolutely nothing to lose - you only stand to gain information about how to do better next time.
(edited 8 months ago)
Original post by LiteraryGeek
I have recently started an English literature BA degree, and I am looking ahead at the assignments that we are going to complete in a few weeks, and I'm just worried about not 'getting it right'. I understand that my first assignment is probably not going to be my best and I can only my best, and take it as a learning experience but I want to do well. I don't want to knock my confidence too badly.

Within that, is the question to myself: am I taking enough notes; taking notes of the right thing?

What I'm asking is, what advice would you give to someone looking ahead to completing their first university assignment, and looking to up their note taking game?

Hey,

Like you said, your first assignment will probably not be your best. From personal experience, my grades definitely improved over time, and most people were in the same boat! I also am now a PhD student who helps out with marking for a lot of first-year students' work and they definitely improve over the year!

I personally didn't do English, but my main essay-related advice would be:

- Ensure your notes are thorough enough so that your base knowledge is strong
- Ensure your argument is solid throughout and made clear throughout your essay (link every point you make back to your argument)
- Try to have a unique perspective (this can be gained through additional reading around the topic, which will likely differ from everyone else's perspective if they've only used the core materials/reading; this is what will help you get those higher marks in my experience)
- and most importantly... remember you will definitely improve over time, so don't be disheartened if your mark isn't amazing the first time around! Just make sure to really pay attention to any feedback you get! :h:

Best of luck with everything!!

Natalie
University of Kent Student Rep
Reply 3
Original post by fedora34
Like you said, this is a learning experience. It's your first assignment, so it's probably what they call a "formative" assessment (i.e. it doesn't count for anything). It's pressure-free and is designed only to help you improve. That said, your department probably has assessment criteria, so be sure to read it carefully. This will guide you on how to construct your answer.

I get that you obviously want to do well and hit the ground running, but genuinely the best thing is to write it, see what they say and then learn from it. Afterwards, reflect on how you used your notes in the process of writing the assignment, try to see whether it worked or not, and adapt your note-taking accordingly. Maybe you write too much, or too little. Maybe you need bullet points rather than continuous prose. It's a totally personal thing. The entire first year is your opportunity to experiment, and you can only know what changes to make after you've been assessed.

And I think just change your attitude to it as well. You're not in competition with anyone, the lecturers aren't going to put you in a remedial class, or anything like that. If you think about it like that, it can't possibly knock your confidence, because there is absolutely nothing to lose - you only stand to gain information about how to do better next time.

Thank you for the thorough response, it was really reassuring.

Like you suggest, I'm going to take notes as I feel appropriate (bullet points help break down the thought process), and then use them to write the assignments further down the line. If things don't work, I need to work out why and how. If they do, then great. Applying feedback is very important. It's hard to know where I'm at without having submitted anything. Plus, I realise I'm getting ahead of myself.
Reply 4
Original post by University of Kent
Hey,

Like you said, your first assignment will probably not be your best. From personal experience, my grades definitely improved over time, and most people were in the same boat! I also am now a PhD student who helps out with marking for a lot of first-year students' work and they definitely improve over the year!

I personally didn't do English, but my main essay-related advice would be:

- Ensure your notes are thorough enough so that your base knowledge is strong
- Ensure your argument is solid throughout and made clear throughout your essay (link every point you make back to your argument)
- Try to have a unique perspective (this can be gained through additional reading around the topic, which will likely differ from everyone else's perspective if they've only used the core materials/reading; this is what will help you get those higher marks in my experience)
- and most importantly... remember you will definitely improve over time, so don't be disheartened if your mark isn't amazing the first time around! Just make sure to really pay attention to any feedback you get! :h:

Best of luck with everything!!

Natalie
University of Kent Student Rep


Hi,

Thank you for this! It's both insightful and reassuring.

I'll keep note of these points.

It's reading around the subject that I am struggling with at the moment. I think I'm thinking about it to much. At the moment, I research further into key people and points in history, and consider how that is relevant to the overall module or essay question.

It'll be a matter of doing what I can, and seeing how I can improve as I go along.

Thank you once again, and good luck with your PhD.

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