10 Things that ruin Easter Revision

We’re about to give you the greatest excuses for all that procrastination you’ve been and will go through. Here’s our theory, it’s not your fault! Our thoughts and thus our choices are shaped by our environment; our architecture. Don’t believe us? Then read Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. If there’s fruit on offer instead of cake, we choose the healthy option. If you put a target in the centre of a urinal, you get less spillage. And if you get the architecture wrong, your productivity suffers. Here are our

1. Your Bed:

Studying in a room where your bed is nearby is a recipe for disaster. Or rather, a recipe for falling asleep. You associate your bed with rest and relaxing. Having that thought right by your desk will only lead your mind astray.

2. TV:

Working near a TV may seem such a great idea on the surface. You may think it will keep you stimulated and working for longer. That won’t happen. You’ll just abandon work and end up watching another episode of Breaking Bad or the live football.

3. The Internet:

The Internet is much too abundant with distractions like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. ‘It’s a research tool’ you may say. Yes, it is. But it also can be the source of many funny cat videos, memes and embarrassing photos of your friends. Avoid it if you can.

4. Rowdy People:

Don’t work near your friends. They’ll just start talking to you/making funny faces/poking you profusely. Unless your friend is super keen and has a cataclysmic fury which prevents you from disturbing them, keep your studying an individual affair.

5. Sugar:

Okay we’re being a bit hasty here. Some sugar is good. You need lots of fruit and carbs to power your day. But don’t binge on sugary snacks and drinks. They’ll simply make you hyper (and thus unable to work) before crashing (and thus unable to work). You get the picture.

6. The Great Outdoors:

Two issues with this. Firstly, if you’re reading this in the UK, we so rarely have the weather for an outdoor retreat whilst studying. So we advise being less idealistic. Secondly, working outside always gets messy. Be it papers being blown away, an uneven work surface or simply the thought of lying in the mid-day sun, desks indoors were invented for a reason.

7. Hunger:

Your body needs fuel. See point 8. Not eating properly will also mean you snack badly. Eat well and regularly – mealtimes will also act as targets in the day to aim towards.

8. Sleep:

We said our thoughts are a product of our architecture. Yet our thoughts are also a product of our rationality (without getting into a philosophical debate). Basically, the part of our brain that acknowledges our future selves and includes them in our thinking doesn’t work as well when we’re tired. So sleep.

9. Messiness:

A cluttered workspace means a cluttered mind. Start your day by tidying your workspace and/or room. In the process, you’ll probably start structuring your thoughts and how you’ll attack the day.

10. Human Nature:

Be it your recent infatuation, thoughts of lunch or simply imagining that big sports game tomorrow, our own brains are our own worst enemies. We can’t combat our own desires. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. The best advice is simply to put mechanisms in place like those above to make sure your architecture inclines you to be productive rather than lethargic.

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Carpe Diem,

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10 Things that ruin Easter Revision

10 Essentials for Writing an Essay

You’ve written the title. Your pen is poised at the paper. You’ve chewed your pen lid copiously, itching like a stallion at the starting gate. And then, ‘oooh, doesn’t that cloud outside look like a rabbit!’ We’ve all been there. Writer’s block. In fact, most have this every time they write an essay. But here’s the secret (whisper it quietly)…essays are quick and easy. Once you follow these tips, you’ll polish off that beast in 2h max, maybe even less.

1. Understand:

Essays require you to be in control of the material. Your clarity of thought manifests into your clarify of prose. Or at least, your ability to waffle constructively (a sign of a great essay writer). The first step is understanding your title, what it means, what it is hinting at. Start with a piece of paper and just brainstorm ideas. Even if you don’t reach the right understanding, you’ll at least have a clear interpretation of what you’re trying to argue.

2. Plan

Great plans come from great understanding. Take all those different threads and start to weave them together. Decide your argument.Then choose the arguments on both sides that you want to employ. Next, start to see the links between them and how your essay can flow.

3. Skeleton

Your essay has to flow. Don’t be all creative with your structure. Keep it rigid. We suggest this:

Intro: Set out the framework of the debate and what you will argue.
Major Argument: Your big point, theory or contention. It should bind your whole essay together.
Counter Arguments + their rejection: See point 6. for more details. The trick is to mention and dispose of the other side’s points.
Connecting secondary argument : Another big point that backs up your argument, maybe just supports.
Maybe tertiary supporting argument: Same as he above, if you have time.
Conclusion: Bring everything together and add some perspective. Don’t just repeat what you’ve said prior.

4. Read Around

If you have time (and mostly you will not) investigate the topic. Reading books can be too time consuming. Instead, read articles, journal pieces or academic summaries. It’s by knowing the nature of the beast that you’ll be able to conquer that essay. Otherwise you may miss the key point that disqualifies (or maybe enhances) your whole argument.

5. Writing style:

Here are some pointers taken from our previous post: 10 Rules of Writing. Succinctness is a sign of a writer in control.

– Short and punchy sentences
– Using connectives to start sentences
– If you can cut a word or sentence out, do so
– Don’t use stale imagery
– Don’t use analogies are used to seeing in print
– Enliven your vocabulary (or buy a thesaurus)

6. Straw-men:

This is a great way to knock down the other side of the argument. Caricature their argument, make it seem extreme and attack its exposed flaws. Make it seem simplistic. You always want to criticise an opposing argument in the context of why yours is better.

7. Paragraphing: signpost

Your structure still needs clarity. Start every paragraph clearly by saying what you are trying to achieve in that verse. Don’t make it simplistic, something like ‘Yet now let us establish this to reject that’ or ‘Furthermore, this is disputed due to x fact’ will do perfect.

8. Argue!

Be opinionated. Take a firm stance (even if it’s a balanced one) and attack from that perspective. Have that fiery side in your essay, your points and counter-arguments will benefit no end.

9. Evidence:

Empiricism is a weapon. Like your straw-men arguments, evidence is yours to be interpreted and used as you wish. Your points cannot exist in the ether, they have to be backed up.

10. Revise: Heuristics for checking

We all make grammatical or rhetorical errors. Try reading your essay backwards or in a different font. Your eyes may be used to reading what you’ve composed so it’s good to look at things from a different perspective.

Take a break before finishing your essay. Leave it for however long you can (not an excuse to procrastinate) and then reevaluate critically. Do you need that paragraph? Can I cut you those superfluous words? Does my argument flow?

And if all else fails, our tutors are brilliant at working on essay-technique. Make an enquiry today!


10 Essentials for Writing an Essay