topic sentences

Back to School: How to Get an A*/8 or 9 in an English Lit Essay!

Happy September, everyone!

As we all get our gears in motion to start a new year, I thought I would share my top tips for scoring the highest marks in English Literature essays. 

(P.S. Lots of these tips are applicable to other subjects too)


1. Don’t write about the character as if they are real

Unfortunately, this is a common error in English Lit essays. It is absolutely imperative to remember that a character is not a person, but is a construct of the writer in order to present an idea or theme. No matter the question, you should be linking your answer back to the writer’s ideas and theme of the text, even if it doesn’t seem obvious what the theme is on the first inspection of the question. Using the author’s name frequently in your essay will demonstrate that you recognise the character is not a real person - ‘Shakespeare portrays Macbeth as a tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle as…’

2. Don’t analyse the plot

Avoid analysing the plot or when things happen in the text. Don’t write ‘When X happens it makes us think Y’. Instead:

  • Analyse the writer’s use of language, structure and form to create meaning
  • Do a close language analysis of specific words/phrases, including a sound analysis (plosives, assonance, etc.)
  • Do a structural analysis of what happens when and why that’s important (Freytag’s pyramid)
  • Do an analysis of form (stage directions, dramatic monologue, etc.)

3. Keep your answer relevant throughout

You need to be explicitly answering the question - not going off on a tangent nor trying to change the question to suit an answer that you want to write. One way of avoiding this is by starting each paragraph with a topic sentence, summarising what that paragraph is going to be about and how it answers the question. Another method is simply by rewording the question into your answer at the start and end of every paragraph. At least. For greater impact, include synonyms of the word, which can also help with the readability of your answer.

4. Avoid PEE/PEEL/etc. where you can

Thousands of students are taught the same, basic Point-Evidence-Explain (or variant) analytical paragraph structure. If you want to stand out, show academic strength, and achieve the highest marks then you must break free from the chains of PEE! (This also applies for your introduction format. ‘In this essay, I will argue…’ gets pretty dull after reading it 100 times)

For my students, I will be teaching them to write What-How-Why paragraphs:

WHAT has the writer done?

HOW have they done it?

WHY have they done it/is it effective?

This way, your focus is always on why the writer has chosen to use that specific language/structure/form, but it allows you to be creative in crafting your response. Being able to discuss the ‘why’ of literature is the key to unlocking the highest grades. Reading through examiners’ reports this summer has made one thing clear - it is not enough to merely spot linguistic devices or structural features. You must explain why the writer has chosen them and why that is an effective choice (or not).

5. Avoid sweeping statements about context

The main advice here is to only include comments about the context of the text if it adds to the analytical point that you are making. They should not be a bolt-on sentence, but they should enhance your answer.

Further, sweeping claims like ‘All Jacobean women were oppressed by society’ is far too vague. On the other hand, a comment like ‘Lady Macbeth is a disturbing example of womanhood because she denies her gender at a time where the role of a woman was clear-cut, even patriarchal, in Jacobean society’ suggests that you have a greater understanding of how context can influence the writer’s choices.

6. A plan is your best friend

Always, always make time to plan your answer. A method I recommend is, first, circling the key words in the question (character/theme, what you are asked to do, where in the text you are asked to look, etc.). Secondly, write all of your ideas down onto the page, highlighting parts from the extract if you have that in front of you. Finally, select a judicious number of points that you are going to talk about (quality not quantity here) and number the order in which you are going to make them.

If you are writing a comparative essay, each paragraph must start and end with a comparative point about whatever it is you are comparing (characters/themes/etc.) I suggest the following format:

X is presented in both text A and text B. However, in A the author uses device 1 and 2 to demonstrate X. On the other hand, in B, the author demonstrates X via use of device 2 and 3.’ Then write one paragraph for each text. Repeat this again for another similarity. And again for a third - if you think that is appropriate.


Photo credit @eintsein 🌻

It’s essay season! Gear up with the Recursive Paragraph model. lt is best used for persuasive essays and is especially useful in integrating research to support your claims. I will overview the six steps that will get you writing brilliant paragraphs for your next essay. Keep in mind, by the time you are using this paragraph model, you will probably have a thesis and an outline and your research ready.

Part One: The Controlling Idea

  • a.k.a. the “topic sentence”
  • Give your reader and idea of what this paragraph is going to be about.
  • This is usually one of the “points” that is supporting your thesis.

Part Two: Contextualize

  • This is where you introduce your quotation/citation that will support your argument.
  • How does it relate to your “controlling idea”?
  • How would you introduce it to a friend?
  • Assume your audience (your professor or teacher) is familiar with the material–no need to over-contextualize.

Part Three: Citation

  • This is where you integrate your citation, whether it be an in-text citation, block quote, or summary.
  • Make sure to use proper citation so as not to plagiarize!
  • Be sure to smoothly integrate the citation, using author names, for example: “Even Herbert Blau states that…” That is just one of thousands of possibilities.

Part Four: Analyze

  • This is where you break apart and close read your citation.
  • Thinking about how you would explain to a friend is helpful.
  • Try to break down the citation into smaller parts and analyze those.
  • Make sure your analysis is as close to the text as possible; in other words, don’t stray from the crux of your citation.

Part Five: Synthesis

  • This is by far the most important step!
  • This is the “so what?” of your point: why it matters.
  • How do these smaller parts relate to your controlling idea?
  • How does your interpretation/analysis develop your overall argument?

Part Six: Restate

  • You’re almost done with your brilliant paragraph!
  • All you need to do is restate your thesis in terms of your new synthesis.
  • In other words, recall back to your thesis statement.
  • The beginning of the next paragraph will call back to the end of this paragraph.

I hope this was helpful! Message me with any questions.

Also, check out another post in the Writing Tutor Series: “Tips for College Writing (and all Good Writing) That You May Not Get in the Classroom

Hey everyone! Over the years I’ve had my fair share of English and other writing intensive classes, and combined with my tendency to procrastinate I’ve had to come up with a way to write papers fast. 

step one: finding a topic and research (aka the hardest part)

You can’t write a paper without a good topic, a strong thesis, and solid research. There’s no getting around that, no matter how short you are on time. Depending on the class and the teacher, you may have your topic chosen for you or you may have total freedom. If your situation is the latter, an ideal topic is one the you care about, have some general knowledge of already, and is specific enough to be covered in the number of pages you’re limited to. After you have a topic picked, do some quick searches to see what’s out there. If your school’s library has a database, that’s the perfect place to start. Be sure to chose quality articles that have been peer reviewed when possible, and where it’s not acknowledge that the source may be an biased in your paper. 

Once you’ve started research, you should have a pretty good idea of what your angle is going to be and what points you want to make. Next write a working thesis. This is basically a sentence or two that states what you will spend the next few pages proving. Once you have it, write it on an index card and put it aside for the next step.

step two: outlining 

Take a look at your past papers. How many paragraphs are usually on a page? It’s about two for me, so I keep that in mind when planning my outline. Now for the part that lets me write so fast: index cards. 

Take one index card per paragraph you’ll need to fill your page limit, and write “into” on the back of the one with your thesis, and conclusion on the other. Now think about how to best prove your thesis, and anything else you saw in research that you want to address. 

  • On one side of the card goes the general topic of the paragraph (ie, “significance of symbolism”).
  • On the back goes all of the specific notes and details that will go in that paragraph (ie, “spring as a symbol of a fresh start for x character”)
  • Once you’ve done that for every paragraph lay them out in front of you and experiment with order. How do they flow naturally?

step three: writing

Now that you have your outline, all you have to do is expand on what’s on your cards. Paragraphs should be at least five sentences each, which is super easy to achieve since you already know what you’re going to say! Think of each paragraph as a mini paper: sentence one should be a topic sentence/intro, explaining what you’re going to cover. The middle/body defends and expands on your topic sentence, and the last sentence or two should conclude the paragraph and transition to the next. 

Once you have your body, you can work on your intro and conclusion. A general rule of thumb for intros is to start with a hook (something interesting that draws the reader in) and ends with your thesis. In the middle should be a sentence or so for each paragraph/point, just to give a little map of where you’re going. The conclusion is basically the same, except in reverse. Wrap it up and tell them what you just told them. 

After that, let it sit for a little while (ideally a day, but if you’re short on time just go to dinner) and then come back to edit with fresh eyes. Reading out loud will help you catch typos!

step four: citations and formatting

I like to cite as I go so I don’t have to do it all at once. I typically write my own, but if I’m in a pinch I’ll use a citation generator (like son of citation) that works super fast. Just be sure to cite everything that needs one! Plagiarism is so not cool. Double check MLA/APA/Chicago guidelines and make sure that everything is formatted right, and you’re good to hit submit!

Good luck on those papers, my fellow procrastinators!

The Promised No-study SAT Tips

I saw that a lot of you wanted these~ Disclaimer: You still have to know English and the basics of math for these. This goes especially if you’re not a native speaker - your English needs to be at a pretty good level.

General:

  1. Read. A lot. Whenever you see a text that’s at least a paragraph or two long, take time to practice skimming. If you’re bored and have a little time, take something, for example a food wrapper, and try to find occurrences of a word (for example “Acid” for food) as quickly as possible. Hard mode: look for synonyms.
  2. Practice filling out the answer sheet. This is a massive time-sink for a lot of people, so you should practice to eliminate it. Print out an example answer sheet and try filling out the circles quickly and accurately without distracting yourself a lot. Hard mode:Try doing it while not focusing only on the circles - look away or start thinking about the next question.
  3. Check. A lot. The main goal of this strategy is to leave yourself enough time when you’ve filled out an answer for each question when you’re calm, know the questions and can focus on checking. Try and go through the questions, thinking, “This question tests this and that.” If you have the time, look at each answer and identify the error in it (harder for the math questions, but loads of fun if you can do it).
  4. Think in patterns: Whenever you’re stuck on an example question, don’t just check the answer. Try and understand how the person found it, if this question is similar to others you have seen. The SAT only uses a few different types of questions, there will rarely be something to surprise you if you know the common patterns.
  5. Rest: The SAT is a very demanding exam. Give your brain time to relax - my advice would be not to do anything mentally strenuous the day before the test. Also, something I found out from competitions - bring chocolate. The sugar in it helps your brain work better and shrug off tiredness and eating it will draw blood away from your brain, effectively hibernating it for the break to conserve energy. Also, it’s just a really tasty snack!

Writing:

  1. Use the right format for the essay. There are a lot of easy points for using the four/five paragraph system. Introduction, Reason 1, Reason 2, Conclusion. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence and follow up with a story from your life or a book/movie to illustrate it. This way, even without using fancy vocab or grammar, you can get the points for structure and critical thought. Now just try not to make any obvious spelling mistakes and call it a day!
  2. Try to quickly find an argument for the essay. They don’t actually rate how intelligent your argument is. So, take a minute or two, breathe deeply, and no matter how stupid your idea is, write it out. (You might still want to take caution with sensitive topics, especially if you’re an international. A dumb mistake I made in my first sitting was bashing on American charity - that definitely did not endear me to the proctors.)
  3. Paragraphs: You have to have experience reading - look at how the topic never changes abruptly. Insert sentences that link what’s written before and after the gap. Final sentences of paragraphs shouldn’t raise more questions.
  4. Sentence questions: Skim through the questions. Try to answer most of them, the first thing that comes to mind, and fill out the answer sheet immediately. Chances are, if it sounds good to you, it’s the correct choice. Do this quickly, then try and do the paragraphs. After you’ve done this, go back to the questions and start checking.
  5. They usually test for a few broad topics. Identify if each sentence fits one of the patterns and answer accordingly. For the others, try and think what error they might want you to make. If you know you have the time, look at each answer in turn and identify the mistake in it. The most common ways for you to change a sentence would be:
  • Fragments: Try and see if each clause has a subject and a verb. Example: “In the dim light, making his way through the cave.” -> “In the dim light, he makes his way through the cave.”
  • Subject-verb agreement: Make sure that the subject is the one actually doing the action and singular/plural match. Example: “Gathering stones, the river was blocked by the men.” Did the river gather stones? No.
  • Consistency: Make sure that something introduced one way is always referred to like that (don’t switch out ‘one’ for ‘you’ or ‘they’). Make sure there are no extra linkers (”Since I was there, but he went too.”). Check if any verbs change tense when they shouldn’t. Don’t compare apples to oranges (”His homework was as good as John.” -> “As good as John’s”).
  • Adverb or adjective? If it describes a verb, it has a ‘ly’. Example: “She winked playful.” -> “She winked playfully.”
  • Singular or plural? Make sure not to refer to a plural object in singular. “Pandas, numbering in the hundreds now, is an endangered species.”
  • Prepositions, linkers, all the small words Sadly, you’ll have to know how they’re used.

Reading

  1. Word fill: Note the answers that obviously don’t make sense. Mark the one of the others that sounds best to you (in the answer sheet, too!). If you don’t know one or more of the words, aim for simplicity. After you’ve quickly answered all of the reading questions, come back to these. Look at the relationships between the gap and the sentence - are you looking for a positive or negative word? Antonyms or synonyms to something before? Try and guess what unknown words mean. This way, you will probably be able to eliminate all the wrong answers.
  2. Reading comprehension: You are not tested for understanding the text. Keep this in mind. What you are actually trying to do here is quickly find synonyms. If the question asks for “Was Anna’s family a) warm b) cold c) the spawn of Cthulhu?”, chances are that the text contains “Anna’s relatives acted chilly.” or something like that. Read the first question. Skim the text until it comes to that topic, then look for synonyms of the answers. Don’t make deductions! If you come across a ‘general message’ or ‘tone of the author’ question, skip it and answer it at the end of the text. The other questions will be in the same order as the answers are mentioned in the text. Checking: If you have time, look at each answer and try to see what in the text could mislead somebody to make that mistake.

Mathematics

  1. Calculator use: My advice would be to not bring a complex graphing calculator. They just slow you down. Try and do most operations by hand, then use the calculator only for, well, calculations.
  2. Basic topics to know: You are expected to be familiar with how to rearrange equations (ab=1 is the same as a=1/b) and solve linear and quadratics; cosine and Pythagorean theorems; number representations of lines and their intersections; median, mean and mode.
  3. Solve like a crab! One of the best things I learnt in “Fun Math” classes was that problems are solved more easily if you work from the answer back. Try and see what you would need (in terms of information) to find the answer. Then look back to the text of the problem - is what you need there? In most SAT problems, it is, or you can easily find it.
  4. Visualise: Especially for distance or geometry problems, make a small chart of what’s happening. Make lines for the distances the cars traveled or draw that pesky cylinder. Try and see in your mind how different elements move and which stay the same.

I guess this is all that I can say for now. Of course, this is my strategy so it might not work for everyone or it might not work without practice, so don’t think it’s a miracle solve-all. I’m always open for questions about ideas or specific problems, just write an ask~ And good luck to all future test-takers!

― How to write an essay as an undergraduate history student

These are general guidelines to help undergraduate students write better essays. *Note that every assignment is different. You should take the time to closely read the instructions and meet with your Professor if necessary. I hope you will find these useful and good luck writing your papers!

B E F O R E   Y  O U   S T A R T

  • Make sure that you have closely read the instructions as presented by your Professor. There are many different types of historical essays (argumentative essays, historiographical reviews and so on). It is imperative that your style is adapted to the type of essay you are required to write.
  • Gather all your information. Some Professors want students to write essays using only class material, others expect them to do more research.  If the latter, make sure to gather all (most) of your information beforehand. If you are a university student, you  have access to a library and many academic journals. Use this access and make sure to ask librarians for help when needed.
  • Take careful notes as you are reading in preparation for your essay. If your Professor provided a specific question, make sure to read critically for information that is susceptible to help you answer this question. If your Professor has not assigned a question, you should still read carefully and try to find the different ways in which historians address certain issues. 
  • Some students prefer not to plan essays, others do. I suggest planning as it may be the best way to map out your ideas and begin forming an argument. It is impossible to cover all the facets of a problem in one essay, therefore, planning your essay may be the easiest way to make sure your work covers important aspects of a given issue. Planning will also help ensure that all your arguments remain connected and support a central claim.
  • Find a few (preferably history) essays that you find well-written and pay special attention to their structure. While you should be careful never to be so inspired as to be tempted to copy (this is a very serious academic offence) the goal of this exercise is to find more academic vocabulary and see how it is used by actual scholars. 

W H E N    W R I T I N G 

  • If your Professor gave you a question to answer in advance, make sure you answer this question and this question only. While you should always supply your arguments with pertinent examples, these should be succinct and focus on the main contention debated in your essay.
  • Make sure your essay has a thesis statement (yes, even when you are asked to answer a question). Your Professor should know from the very beginning of your essay what you will be arguing and what position you will take. All subsequent paragraphs until your conclusion should serve to better make the case for your thesis.
  • Try to follow the “classical” essay model, that is: introduction, body and conclusion. 
  • Began each paragraph with a topic sentence announcing the focus of the next few lines. Conclude the paragraph by rephrasing the main idea and possibly by trying to make a connection with the next body of text.
  • Always bring evidence to support your arguments. This evidence may come from the work of other historians are from a passage of a primary document. Whatever the case may be, make sure that your arguments are solidly built and “defended”.
  • Introductions and conclusions are (usually) not optional. Your introduction should help the reader understand what the text will argue and how it will proceed to do so, while your conclusion finishes the text by summarising key points and perhaps even making a suggestion for future studies. (An additional tip may be to write a simple introduction at the beginning and then rewriting it when the essay is finished. Once you are satisfied with your introduction, you may copy and paste it as your conclusion making necessary adjustments and avoiding copying the exact sentence structure. The point here is to use your introduction as a guide to write your conclusion.)
  • Be precise, you are writing a history paper, dates and names matter. 
  • Be clear and concise but make sure that all your points are well-developed. 

G E N E R A L   T I P S 

  • Locate your argument in historiography. As a historian in training, it is important that you show your Professor that you understand there are debates regarding specific interpretations. It is also important that you demonstrate that your line of argumentation is supported by the work of experienced researchers. Even if your essay primarily focuses on primary document analysis, surely some have analysed this text or object before, make sure to mention these scholars and their contributions to the debate.
  • Citations should be used wisely. As said before, it is important to ground your argument in the work of other historians. In this sense, citations are immensely useful. That being said, depending on the length of your paper, too many citations may suggest laziness as you have made little efforts paraphrasing. A few carefully selected and well-integrated quotes in your paper should do the trick.
  • Unless prohibited (for some odd reason) by your Professor, use footnotes to give additional information. Using footnotes to engage in discussions that are important but that otherwise cannot find their place in your text will show your Professor that you had a strong command of the topic at hand. It is also the best place to suggest further readings.
how to build a sentence!!

i was taught back in freshman year of high school that there are two ways you can structure a sentence. for example:

american sign language(ASL)

TIME+SUBJECT+VERB+OBJECT

this structure is commonly called glossing.

say i pick a sentence from a song 

“i just cant stop loving you.”

by glossing, you have a reorganized sentence.

“I NOT STOP LOVE YOU”

there is also active and passive signing.

if the subject is your topic , you are using an active voice.

“I EAT CANDY”

if the object is your topic you are using a passive voice.

“CANDY, I EAT”

fun fact- a lot of people tend to use an active voice because of how similar it is to English grammar.

a topicalized sentence is using the object of the sentence as the topic and introducing it as a “yes/no question expression” ending with a comment.

1. topicalized

“YOUR CANDY? I EAT YESTERDAY”

your candy is the topic and the sentence is in object-verb-subject word order.

 2.Non-topicalized

“ I ate YOUR CANDY YESTERDAY”

woahhh kaylee, you made an error. why is ate not capitalized but the rest of the sentence is?

well first off, i didn’t make an error. second, words that have a sign for them such as “SOUR” are in caps. words without a sign such as “of, ate,ran,” can be finger spelled but then you'd be using SEE instead of ASL. there aren’t past tense words, that’s why you say what time of day it is!! “YESTERDAY, I RUN” or “I RUN YESTERDAY”.

either way is fine.


vs

signing exact english

that is exactly what it sounds like. SEE is based on signs drawn from asl but is expanded using words that give a complete visual representation. “the girl had soft, silky hair.”

thats all i can think of atm so if you have anything else on asl and see let me know/add on. i might add on a bit later tho after i go shower brb

1. Know your stance: Make sure you know exactly where you stand on the issue! Which side will you take? What are your biases? The importance of a persuasive essay is to be able to assert your point while simultaneously acknowledging the opposition. State your claims and back them up.

2. Understand your topic: One of the most important aspects of a persuasive essay is the evidence that you use to back your assertions, and disprove your opposition’s argument. This can only be done if you have a very clear and thorough understanding of the topic at hand. This means doing research, research, and more research!

3. Audience: It’s important, especially in a persuasive essay, that you know your audience. While you may stand strongly on one side of the argument, keep in mind that there will always be others who don’t see the situation through the same lens as you do. It’s important in a persuasive essay to not only assert your opinions, but to also consider and address the opposing side. Whether it’s to disprove an argument, or to concede to some valid points, it’s essential to acknowledge the other side.

4. Structure is key: The foundation of a good essay (of any kind) is in its organization. The introduction to your essay should grab the audience’s attention, state your thesis, as well as provide some background information on the subject at hand. The body is where the bulk of the argument comes in. Remember that each paragraph should assert a certain point (a clear topic sentence is key), and that each of your points should be backed with strong evidence. Evidence can include research, quotes, data, or real life examples etc. And finally, include a strong and succinct conclusion to round off your essay!

Tips: Remember that the flow of your essay needs to be logical, so that your reader can clearly see the point of the argument instead of getting lost in the midst of a scramble of ideas.

Additionally:

Outline and Draft!
Forming an outline really helps when writing any essay. If you have written a structured and detailed outline, then writing the draft will be much easier. Flesh out the outline that you have prepared and just let your ideas flow. Don’t worry too much about wording or grammar the first time around, just try to get your ideas out onto the paper.

Revise!
Congrats! You’re almost done! Now, go over and edit your draft. Really pay attention to the flow, coherence, and organization of your ideas. This is also the time to look for any grammatical errors. 

Take a step back!
If you have the extra time, it helps to leave your essay for a while (a day or two), before coming back to it. Sometimes taking a step back can really go a long way!

Making Your Murder Board (or, Creating Fiction Through the Mind Map Method)

Hello, all!

With Camp NaNo quickly approaching, I find myself facing the daunting task of writing two novellas without much of an outline in place. I can’t imagine that I’m the only one in a situation like this, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite methods for organising my stories.

In the past, I’ve certainly been the type to write out a full outline with Roman numerals and topic sentences like it’s a fifth-grade book report from the 1980s.

While I can’t deny that this can be incredibly helpful when it comes to writing specific scenes and keeping timelines in place, it’s a bit too technical when it comes to more grand-scheme ideas that get the plot rolling in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I like to visualise my stories on a large scale before I start getting down and dirty with the details.

Enter the mind map.

I personally like to refer to this as my Murder Board, as it makes me feel like I’m on Criminal Minds and trying to solve the case by connecting all of the little red strings and thumbtacks. It can get pretty involved and can look damn scary depending on how many details you include, but I absolutely swear by it.

This strategy was recommended to me by a friend, and I can’t offer enough praise for it and how much it’s helped me to get my stories on track. If there are any of you out there still struggling with how to string your plot bunnies together in time for writing to start on July 1st, I definitely recommend taking some time to put one of these together.

I’ve illustrated my preferred method below using Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as an example. As a quick disclaimer, I’m the type of writer that puts a lot of emphasis on character. As such, this method is specific to character and relies heavily on the primary protagonist’s perspective— if your story isn’t particularly character-driven, this exact method may not work for you. I still strongly advise giving it a shot, as you never know what sort of details will be uncovered as you work on putting together a map.

With that in mind, let’s begin! (I apologise in advance for the quality of the photos— my camera isn’t the best)

Keep reading

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Hello! A few followers of mine requested a post on my note taking system so here it is.

My notes
The above picture is of my Arc Notebook and is a collection of classwork and textbook information! When I’m writing notes I have to always write the date. I always mark down the dates on any worksheets I receive and sometimes add the topic of the class into the calendar on my computer. During classes, I try to pay as much attention as I can. Especially to the information which the teacher emphasises! Class notes are usually really scruffy or I type them and then I will later rewrite/condense and add after class. I find this pretty helpful, however if I miss a day I usually fall behind and end up with a lot more work to do! For rewriting the notes, I look at the syllabus and make sure I write something for each topic. I use colour coding to help too. I refer to the notes from class and other textbooks or the Internet! Having a selection of resources is really useful for understanding your topics. I am also trying to create even simplified topic notes to print later. 

My work layout
For starters, with a new topic I start on new paper. So I can easily find the one topic without having to make it by a title page or something, like in a regular exercise book! Titles are the sections of the syllabus which my notes relate to. Titles and always in black, underlined and capitalised. My notes are mainly in black and always in dot point form. I prefer having small sections of sentences compared to large chunks of writing. As you can see at points my writing goes in. I measure each time at either 1cm, 2cm or 3cm depending on the indent. Usually these notes are important for the line above, for instance an example or a definition. Also, you can see some sentences with arrows (either green or pink) underneath the sentences, these are just additional information which is relevant for either understanding or just interesting! I also leave one line between each section for easier reference.

My colour coding system
I’ve had a lot of messages about this so I thought I should include it! I use the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners for all these notes. I use black as the normal note taking. Red is for the topic of sentence, because I use dot point form the red makes the work stand out so I can quickly refer to that sentence! I don’t use red in every sentence, usually only if I’ve begun talking about something else. I use light blue for terms that I need to remember or are important. I find this useful in all my subjects! Dark blue is for names of people/places/businesses/etc and abbreviations. Orange is for examples and are usually indented by 1cm. I use green for relevant information to help understanding or to clarify and as previously mentioned, I use an arrow and indent at 1cm. I use pink for generally interesting information which isn’t needed but good for showing knowledge. I find colour coding useful, but it makes note taking quite a timely process but it does look pretty!

Overall, my note taking isn’t very complicated and pretty easy to recreate! I hope some of you find this post at least a little helpful. Check out emmastudies.tumblr.com/tagged/me for more. Feel free to message me if theres anything else! :-)

Japanese Case Particles and Their Evil Twins!

Hey guys!

We wanted to take a moment to return to the idea of case particles and perhaps create a more refined model.

So, to review some terms real quick… 

Nouns in Japanese don’t generally decline for number (meaning that they are not explicitly plural or singular or anything in between), but they decline by case.

Grammatical case refers to a function or identity that the noun carries. In English, the pronouns decline into nominative, genitive and objective.

Nominative: He, She, They

Objective: Him, Her, Them

Genitive: His, Her, Their

Japanese marks case through particles. Indo-European languages, like English, tend to do them by suffixes that are sometimes to figure out. So we’re very lucky, in a way.


Linguists aren’t in total agreement as to how many cases Japanese has, mainly because of a few odd places one sees Japanese’s case particles. But here are the cases that are indicated.

Topical (は/wa): indicates the topic of the sentence. It exists pretty independently. 

Nominative (が/ga): indicates the subject of the sentence.

Accusative (を/wo): indicates the direct object.

Genitive (の/no): indicates possession of categorization.

Dative (に/ni): indicates the indirect object and location.

Instrumental (で/de): indicates a tool or cause.

Lative [or Locative] (へ/e): indicates direction toward.

Ablative (から/kara): indicates direction from.

Cases in any given language will tend to have multiple functions. In fact, there is a good likelihood that secondary functions of the same cases are repeated between languages. That is to say, if the accusative in Japanese can sometimes indicate motion through, it is likely that another language will have one such indication. And that is the case. There are also various “datives of manner,” which is what the “adverbial ni” actually is.


We here for now tend to talk about a topical, nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and locative. We don’t talk about the ablative, and the idea of calling the locative lative seems to be a remnant from the old idea that Japanese is related to Uralic languages (like Finnish and Estonian.) But it works really well, so we’ll keep it around. 

(By the way, it’s generally accepted that Japanese is a language isolate. The idea of an “Altaic” family has been discredited, which I believe is a concept that was taught many years ago to Japanese (and Korean) students, so you’ll find language books claiming that Japanese (and Korean) is an Altaic language.)

The ablative, on the other hand, we’re afraid to indicate because of its “evil twin.” An “evil twin” is a counterpart to a case particle that works in a manner that is very different from the original case particle. 

We often see “kara” as a post-position (or you can call it a conjunction, it really doesn’t really matter right  now.) The thing is that it will work with an entire verb phrase, which is not okay.


Japanese Evil Twins:

から (kara): marks a cause or reason. (”because”)

が (ga): conjunction, marks that both inflexional sentences are not comparable, meaning that you wouldn’t figure that one follows from the other. (”though…”)

で (de): post-postition, marks the location of an action when the location itself is not very relevant to the action. (”at,” or “in”)

の (no): attributive copula, serves as the copula in an attribute phrase. (”…that is…”

と (to): conditional conjunction, marks that the occurrence of an action is dependent on another. (If…) 

We didn’t speak of “to,” because we are unsure if it’s a conjunction or if it is a comitative case marker. The comitative case marks that an action is done with or in the company of, which is possible in Japanese but it is rare. (E.g. 僕と行きますか? Will you go with me?)


The plot thickens:

If から is a case particle, an ablative, then まで (made) surely must be a case particle. And some have suggested to call it a “limitative” case, which would be unique to Japanese (as far as we know). But the nice thing about cases is that they’re something you can see in multiple languages, so we’re hesitant to concede that. That’s why we’d rather treat both as post-positions.

Japanese grammar tends to deal with this by calling them all “particles” and then giving them as many jobs as needed, but thinking of them all as a single grammatical unit. The bad thing about this, of course, is that then you don’t have “case” particles and it ignores the patterns seen in the case particles when compared to so many other languages.

But it is very strange that we have so many evil twins. It’s easy to dismiss one or two, but five (or six), that is a lot. The answers to all this probably lie in the history of the language, with things stemming from Old and Middle Japanese, some things most likely lost to us (things like idiomatic phrases truncated). So we’ll have to wait a while to figure it all out.


Anyway, we just thought you’d find this interesting. Food for thought.

HOW TO WRITE A STRONG ESSAY

I recently got an ask about how to write an introductory paragraph for an essay so I thought I’d do a post about how to write a good essay.

** Important Points ** For essays in high school, use third person unless the teacher specifically tells you not too. It’s more academic and professional while first person sounds really informal. I’ve heard that in college it’s different but again, it depends on the class. Stay on the safe side and use third person unless otherwise specified. Also, try to be as sophisticated and mature as you can. This makes the essay sound smarter and makes it easier to read.

1) INTRODUCTION

Try to think of an upside down pyramid here. You start off broad and end off tapered to a point (specific). The formula for writing a good intro is this: hook, background info, introduce topic of discussion, and thesis. In the pyramid example, the hook is the broad and the thesis is the narrow. The intro is usually around 8 sentences long.

  • Hook: Unlike what you’ve probably been told through out high school, the hook is not necessarily a wow statement. It’s typically a broad idea that relates to the topic of discussion. I usually use historical facts or common wisdom and go from there. I then follow it up with a sentence that elaborates on my hook and a sentence that connects my hook with the background info.
  • Background Info: Here you give the reader some context as to what you will be discussing in your essay. It sets the scene for the topic you’re discussing. Try to be concise.
  • Introduce the Topic of Discussion: Here you give a brief summary of the points you’re arguing/discussing. It should be one sentence per body paragraph and again, be clear and concise and avoid merely summarizing the plot. This part should cover the gist of your ideas.
  • Thesis: This should be a longer complex sentence that summarizes your point of view and ideas. This is one of the most important parts of the essay so crafting a good thesis is crucial.

I did a more detailed post about the introduction with an example introduction paragraph HERE.

2) BODY PARAGRAPHS

The meat of your essay. Here is where you state your arguments and defend them with supporting evidence from literature, articles, or even your personal experience. I would generally limit one argument per body paragraph. Which reminds me, most likely you have been taught the canned five paragraph essay. Some people write all their essays in five paragraph format because they thing that is the only way to go. Really, you can do four+ body paragraphs with the common numbers being four and six. It depends on the essay. When writing your body paragraph you need this structure: topic sentence, three points, three examples of supporting evidence, conclusion. Body paragraphs typically fall between 8 -15 sentences.

  • Topic Sentence: This is similar to a thesis. Here you’re stating the argument that you are proving in a clear and concise sentence.
  • Three Points: There’s a rule of thumb that you generally want to have three points about each argument and have a piece of supporting evidence for each point. I’m going to start with the three points first. Basically, you want three ideas about your argument that show why it’s valid. For example if you’re trying to argue that cheese is dairy, your three points are it’s made of milk, it’s featured in the dairy section of the grocery store, and the FDA labels it as dairy.
  • Three Examples of Supporting Evidence: These are usually quotes from other sources or the piece of literature you’re analyzing that support the three points of your argument. To use the really bad cheese example from above, for the milk point you’d use an ingredients label from a package of cheese, for the grocery store point you’d get a sheet with the department labels and the produce in those departments, and for the FDA point you’d find a quote from their website.
  • Conclusion: This is a sentence or two that wraps up your body paragraph. It should briefly summarize the points you discussed or the topic sentence and help transition into the next paragraph.

2) a. COUNTER ARGUMENT PARAGRAPHS 

This paragraph is NOT necessary for most essays. However, some do require them so it’s important to know how to approach them. Depending on whom you ask, they’ll either tell you that the counter argument paragraph goes in the middle of your body paragraphs, or at the end. Personally I prefer the end but the middle is more correct. Placing it in the middle allows you to end on a strong note but I think it’s a matter of personal preference. The counter argument is used to present an opposing view point and say why it’s wrong. This can strengthen your argument if it’s done properly but ruin it if it’s done wrong so tread carefully. The only thing different from the body paragraph structure is the topic sentence.

Topic Sentence: Here you need a specific template to start the paragraph properly. I usually use: It may be argued that _______________ but there is sufficient evidence to show that _______________. The first blank is filled with the opposing argument and the last blank is your argument. There are different ways to structure this sentence but this is the one I use.

The rest of the paragraph is the same as the body paragraph: you get three points as to why the counter argument is wrong and three points to support it. Then you end with a typical concluding sentence.

3) CONCLUSION

This is where you wrap up your arguments and finish strong. It has three components: a restatement of your thesis, summary of your arguments, and general statement to wrap it up. Think of the right side up pyramid this time. The pointy end is the thesis and the bottom is the general statement that closes your essay. A conclusion is typically 5 sentences long.

  • Restatement of Thesis: This is pretty self explanatory; you restate the thesis using different language than you used in your intro.
  • Summary of Arguments: Here you briefly touch upon the arguments you covered in your essay. Again, clear and concise, and whatever you do, DO NOT introduce new information. It can ruin the amazing essay you worked so hard on.
  • General Statement: A general statement is a broad idea that you use to tie your entire essay together. It’s kind of like the hook but should be more relevant to your essay.

And that is how you write a killer essay. I use this technique whenever I write and it has never failed me. Hopefully if will help you improve your writing! If you have any questions, feel free to hit up my ask box.

Writing Dialogue: Teenagers

Dialogue is one of the trickiest parts for a lot of writers to get down, and teenagers especially. Surprisingly, this applies to teenagers almost as well as it applies to adults—and I think we’ve all read a YA novel written by someone totally out of touch with teenagers.

Personally, I don’t have trouble with dialogue, but after analyzing my own (acclaimed? Not by anyone important) dialogue versus the stilted speech I’ve read, I’ve come up with a list of tips for the YA writer.

Contractions. This is a tip that extends beyond teenagers, because most people contract almost anything they can. However, a lot of writers still refuse to do it, and I think it’s even more pronounced in high-intensity situations and teenagers.

A lack of contractions is generally reserved for formal situations, emphasis, or seething anger.

Don’t use slang. What?! I can hear you protesting. But teenagers are the inventors of most slang! Maybe, but I can’t actually remember a time as a teenager when I used slang and any adult other than someone particularly clueless didn’t not understand.

Commonly accepted “slang” like “okay,” “yeah,” “cool,” and others should be used liberally.

Note that this does not apply to jargon terms. I would classify words like “shipping” as jargon because it makes no sense outside of a fandom community. Not necessarily a “teenage” community. Use jargon like normal.

Awkwardness. Puberty is awkward. If your character says something awkward, this is fantastic!

But everyone feels awkward. If your character says something foolish, they will know. If they say something hammy, even for comedic effect, they will probably be uncertain while they do it. Not even the “popular” kids are all-confident.

Misunderstandings. This is another tip that should be used for all dialogue, but is especially useful for teenagers. And not all misunderstandings need go unspoken. Have your questions say something nonsensical and have their conversational partner go, “that didn’t make any sense.”

This get cut as “unnecessary” a lot, but I don’t think it should. It emphasizes character’s emotional states. And if a character misunderstood something, they might bring up it up later in the conversation and have it re-explained (this can also be good for exposition).

Bottled Chaos. This one is mostly for conversations with more than two people. Teenagers, especially on their free time, will not stick to one topic, even in the same sentence. The topic should jump around and cover a lot of things, and not everyone in the group will be focused on the same conversational gambits.

But this has to be contained somewhat in writing, or it gets too confusing. All the topics have to spring from somewhere that the reader knows, and die when the conversation gets serious or focuses in on what the conversation is there to advance, plot- or character-wise.

But at the end of the day, you just have to listen to people talk. Listen to teenagers talk. What are they talking about? What do they care about? They aren’t a foreign species, even if you think yourself strange and different (or too adult).

Chihokogate is overwhelmingly romantic; fight me

I’ve seen people describe the “Overcome Chihoko” story in a number of ways–Victor being Extra, crackfic, something written purely for laughs, and so forth. And yes, I think all of those things are true, to a certain extent, but I’m not sure we appreciate exactly how lovely of an instance of crackfic this is.

More below the cut.

Keep reading

college tips from a real live college student

Hey guys, I’m currently a college freshman at a major research institution and I thought I’d share some of my tips with you all. These are basically things that I wish someone would have told me before I went to school.

  • So you breezed through high school. I did too. (Or maybe you didn’t, and that’s fine–if you know how to study and manage your time already, you’re in a better place than those who got by without studying) And maybe you’re even an honors student. Me too. But unless you were at the very top of your class and test like a damn genius, you’re going to have to get your act together in order to be better than average in college. The thing is that colleges accept students just like you as the norm. A student with a 3.5 in high school is a 2.5 student in college unless they learn to put in more work than they ever have before. I’m a national merit scholar in the Honors college at my school and I’ve had to learn how to manage my time more than ever before in order to maintain a 4.0. Basically, my point is this: you’re not as smart as you think you are. Get studying.
  • Take every AP test you can while in high school. I know the concept of college credit is a little abstract right now, but every AP credit you get in high school is $500 in tuition and $300 in books you don’t have to pay.
  • Which brings me to my second point: books are expensive. Shop around as much as you can. Try online thrift shops, and know that amazon isn’t always the cheapest. Rent whenever possible, and make sure to check the store’s policy on highlighting in rentals.
  • Read your textbooks. I get it, the lectures are the same as what’s in the textbook, but if you want to impress your prof and understand the material, at least skim your textbook. Focus on the conclusion of every section as well as topic sentences. Highlight a key phrase or two and mention them in class–it’ll get you hella participation points.
  • Bring a damn bike. If your campus is larger than a block, you’re going to want a bike. Not only will it get you around quickly on campus, but it’ll get you off campus efficiently as well. Plus, it’s a lot easier to bike back to your dorm at night than it is to walk.
  • You don’t need all the clothes you think you do. I wore shorts, dresses, knee highs, etc when in high school and I brought those with me to college. But I didn’t need them and couldn’t wear them. Take tank tops/anything sleeveless for example. If you’re walking to class with something sleeveless on and you are also carrying a backpack, your back is going to sweat and you’re going to get backne. Or maybe not, I guess, but I sure did. Backpack sweat is real and it kills. Also, if you brought a bike you don’t want to be trying to bike around in shorts/skirts/dresses if your bare skin will be on the seat. Your legs will sweat and you will get clogged pores. Not to mention flashing everyone you ride by–nothing against that, but I personally didn’t feel comfortable biking like that.
  • Bring warm clothes if you live in a temperate climate. Here in Michigan, it gets fucking cold. If you’re walking a half a mile to class,  you really, really need to be dressed warmly. You also need boots or comfortable walking shoes. Heels are hot but crying because your feet hurt from walking across campus in them is not a good time.
  • Drink as much water as possible without having to pee unreasonably much. This is just general life advice.
  • Learn to poop in public. Everyone does it. It happens. If you have communal restrooms or a roommate, you’re going to have to go when someone else is in the bathroom eventually. It will be a lot better for your body if you learn to go when you need to instead of holding it for hours until you’re alone.
  • Utilize academic advisors and counseling services. They’ll usually be willing to help you out with scheduling, required classes, and personal issues. Transitioning to college can he difficult to adjust to and talking about it can help a lot. Counseling is usually free for students.
  • You just moved in and all of a sudden they want you to pick where you’ll live next year? What the fuck? So here’s how it worked for me. I moved into my dorm and a month later I got an email telling me that signups for housing next year would be happening soon. I panicked. I wish someone would have told me that you have to be prepared to find somewhere to live next year early on. You may want to live in the dorms again, in which case you’ll need to sign up a couple months after moving in. You may decide you want to live in an apartment or rent a house. In that case, you should get hunting in order to get a good deal on a good apartment close to campus. Apartments go fast, so you’ll need to be on top of it. Your university may also have housing cooperatives, which are large houses owned by a not-for-profit student organization that works differently from traditional houses or apartments. Do your research to find out which housing situation is right for you early on and you’ll face less stress when deadlines to sign leases occur.

Anyway, this is what I can think of for now. If anyone has any questions about transitioning to college or about MSU in particular, feel free to ask!

How to write an essay at the last minute:
  1. Do a little research so you know the basic themes or arguments around what you’re writing about. 
  2. Write a plan. Plan what you’ll write in each paragraph- just a topic or a main argument for each paragraph. Make sure you can use each of these ideas to justify your overall essay argument. 
  3. Start writing. Start with a paragraph that interests you or that you already have information on. This way, you can find info for other paragraphs while writing this one. NOTE: your writing does not have to be 100% academic or flow too well at this point! Start by writing a main point, and then:
  4. Do the research to back up points as you write them. It’s a challenge yourself to find information that contradicts or supports the sentence you’ve just written. Correct your sentence if your research suggests otherwise.
  5. Note references as you go along. These don’t have to be detailed; a link to the article you read and a note of the page number in a footnote will do. If you like, you can include in-text citations as you go, too, but keep the footnote so you can write the correct bibliographical entry later, and check your source later in case you mess up. 
  6. Write the conclusion and introduction. Now you know your main points for sure, and you’ve backed them up, summarise it in these paragraphs. 
  7. Go over each paragraph. Sometimes I do this in a seperate paragraph to make it less confusing. If your writing really doesn’t flow, re-write each paragraph so it does. Maybe you’d like to ad your linking sentences and topic sentences in here if you haven’t already. Then insert them back into your document with the right formatting and fonts. Go through each paragraph until you’re done. 
  8. Write your bibliography/reference list. Remember those footnotes you made?  Go through and write a bibliographical entry for each source. 
  9. Finishing touches. Make sure you’ve met the formatting requirements. This might include things like giving your essay a good heading, page numbers, line spacing, font, and text size. 
  10. Submit your work and celebrate! Your essay is complete! You might want to read over it once more if you have time for spelling errors etc before submitting, but hopefully most errors were corrected in step 7. Now you should probably reward yourself, or at least praise yourself mentally. Congrats and good luck! 

Notes: 

If you need to, take a micro-break to dance or rest your eyes or something for like 1-5 minutes between paragraphs. This is especially helpful if you’re pulling an all-nighter. 

It’s also a good idea to supply yourself with snacks and lots of water so you can maybe enjoy the process a little and stay healthy. 

And finally, this is what works for me, but if it doesn’t for you, that’s okay. It might only be good as a last-minute strategy, and thereby not ideal. 

は and が

I DO NOW

  • は (spelled “ha” but pronounced “wa”) goes on nouns that are serving as context/background information for the rest of the sentence. Basically, you’re bringing up the topic of (noun) and then commenting on it. (は is sometimes called the “topic particle” because of this.)
  • が (ga) marks a noun that’s looking for something to do. (Or be.) This noun will be the subject of the next verb/adjective/whatever you see. (が is sometimes called the “subject particle” because of this.)

In English, we don’t really have two specific words with those jobs–we express those concepts in lots of different ways, or just leave them out completely. So when you look at translations of sentences with は and が, sometimes it looks like the は and が either don’t matter or are totally interchangeable, which isn’t true! They have completely different jobs, it’s just that there’s some overlap when you bring up a topic (with は) that happens to be doing a verb or something (and could take が). 

I found that the best way (for me) to get a feel for は and が was to listen to people try to explain it, then look at sentences and imagine how they would be different if you switched a は for a が or vice versa. So here are some examples with really wordy explanations!

Note: I’m relying on my (non-native-speaker) は・が sense for these, so if anyone finds errors, let me know.

Here goes!

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

so I'm studying Japanese I'm just a beginner and I'm rlly confused about sentences. In English and Arabic the words of a sentence are all spaced out so it's easy but in Japanese the characters are all together how do u even know which is a word? Thanks

Hi anon. As a beginner, I would totally expect you not to be able to distinguish words within a Japanese sentence, so you can take a breath of relief there! Trying to read or write a Japanese sentence before learning about the parts its made up of is like trying to build a house without learning what a stud or joist or brick is and how they function within a structure.

If you haven’t already, start with your Japanese building blocks - hiragana and katakana. Beginner level Japanese lessons often omit Kanji until a certain point, but will require you to be able to read hiragana. Once you feel confident enough with hiragana, you can learn just about anything Japanese has to throw at you, including (eventually) kanji!

My suggestion for anyone learning this boss language is to invest in Human Japanese. I am forever trying to reconstitute what I’ve learnt into an easy to follow format for new learners, but nothing I do can compare with the HJ format. It’s been my sensei after all. The program separates words (along with their particle buddy) from each other so that you can clearly see what each little bit is doing within the sentence. 

I’ll try to give you a run down. This is a condensed run, but it’s not very brief. Soz!

Two most important rules re: sentences… Every Japanese sentence has a verb, and the verb always goes last. One reason for this is that the verb alters itself to tell you if the things in the sentence “verbed” now or in the past, and if they “verbed” positively or negatively. It ties everything up in a neat little bow.

The verb you may be most familiar with would be 〜です (desu) which is something like the English “is, am, are” and it totally doesn’t give a damn about the number of things that “are.” Desu covers singular and plural in a cinch. Something else you might have seen are verbs ending with 〜ます(masu) I’ll use a 〜ます example below to show you how verbs alter, or “conjugate” 

わたしは いぬを みます / watashi wa inu wo mimasu

( I は dog を see ) Positive present

わたしは いぬを みました / watashi wa inu wo mimashita

( I は dog を saw ) Positive past

わたしは いぬを みません / watashi wa inu wo mimasen

( I は dog を don’t see ) Negative present

わたしは いぬを みませんでした / watashi wa inu wo mimasendeshita

( I は dog を didn’t see ) Negative past

Another rule that you will come to delight in… If something is known through context, a Japanese sentence may often leave it out. This means that a few words, mixed with contextual knowledge and tone, can say it all. In fact, hilariously, a single verb can form a legitimate sentence on it’s own. たべます (tabemasu) means “I will eat.” Full stop. Mic drop.

The glue which holds the sentence together are the particles. Their function is to tag itself to a word and show how it relates to the one(s) coming after it.

は (pronounced wa when used as a particle, but ha when part of a word) tags itself to the topic of your sentence. It puts off an “as for this thing? well I’m about to tell you something about it” vibe. It has a way of posing an unspoken question about the thing it just marked, projecting attention forward to what comes next.

が (ga) tags itself to subject or the “actor” in your sentence. Who “verbed”? Gin-chanが drank dom-peri. The catが scratched. Iが slept. Your mamaが ate the entire cheesecake.

を (read as wo, but pronounced like ‘o’ ) tags itself to the object in your sentence. Objects are things that are acted upon by the verb. What was “verbed”? Appleを was thrown. Pencilを was stolen. Bookを was used as a coaster.

の (no) tags itself to the possessor or owner of something. Whose “thing”? Myの knockoff bag. Yūri’sの eros. Your girlfriend’sの tinder profile.

に (pronounced ni) tags itself to the location in your sentence. Where did the subject “verb”? Parkに went. Supermarketに bought 30 milk puddings. BTS concertに lost my voice.

There are a few others, but this is a good start.

Example sentence and we’re done:

あなたの ねこが くるまの うえに すわりました / anata no neko ga kuruma no ue ni suwarimashita

( Your cat, the car’s top sat.  Or “your cat sat on the top of the car” )

Vocabulary used: あなた (your) ねこ (cat) くるま (car) うえ (top) すわる (to sit) conjugated to すわりました (to have sat)

I hope this hasn’t put you to sleep anon! And hopefully it helps to break things down a little bit. Go ahead and master hiragana and build a storehouse in that mind of yours for lots of new Japanese vocab to start building sentences with. Happy studying ~

How to study

A spiritual continuation to this post

Okay, so Studying is supposed to be easy and everyone’s been doing it forever but like honestly it’s hard to do so correctly. So, maybe I’m not an expert, but I just survived 4 years of college and I wanna share whatever shit I’ve learnt so far: 

  • IF YOU’RE VISUAL: Bulletpoints!!
    • You’re gonna love bulletpoints. They are life savers for big complicated themes. 
    • So next time you get a BIG test, you sit down and break it down in the big main topics. Then subtopics. Then only one or two code words.
      • MAIN TOPIC 1.
        • subtopic a: code word. 
        • subtopic b: codeword. maybe a sentence?
      • MAIN TOPIC 2… ETC
    • color code each level (MAINS BLUE/SUB PINK/ETC)
    • highlight DATES in one color and NAMES in another, since those are the kinda stuff you need to learn by heart as opposed to understanding. 
    • All this should give you visual cues to remember most of the info in each big topic. Write it by hand in a separate piece of paper that you can later bring with you to study. 
    • Hand writing them will help you learn them, and then one quick look right before the exam will freshen it all up. 
    • Honestly I’ve resumed whole semesters word of classes in two pages of bulletpoints. 
  • IF YOU’RE A SPEECH PERSON: Teach. 
    • Study groups are your new best friend. 
    • “But I don’t understand the topics that well yet!”
    • It really doesn’t matter. 
    • Take turns to explain the stuff to each other. 
    • You’ll be surprised. In my experience, some times you don’t need to remember stuff by heart, you need to understand it. And there’s no better way to find the logic behind weird shit than when you explain it to someone else. 
    • You’ll find connections that you hadn’t seen before, and when you see the question in the exam you’ll remember how you’ll explained it!
    • History or shit? Story time! Narrate it to your study mates! Find the interesting stuff in it! Find the ridiculous stuff! It’s just a story! We all remember the stories we love!
  • IF YOU’RE A LISTENING PERSON: Music
    • Some people totally get distracted, and I get it, but if you can focus through it, this is a great tip
    • Small playlist on repeat. 
    • It gets repetitive. 
    • Yes!! That’s the point!!
    • You know how some earworms you just can’t get out of your head. That’s what you’re getting. 
    • And you’re gonna remember what you were studying while you listened. 
    • Listen to the playlist on your way to the exam. 
    • Hum while you answer. 
    • Got stuck? What song where you listening to while you studied this topic? La, la, oh my fuck that’s the answer! 
    • It works. Promise. 
  • Other things to do: 
    • Eat. Carbs and protein, get your energy up. 
    • Coffee!!!! Sorry if it’s not considered “healthy” but like, that’s how I survived. 
    • Take breaks. Ten minutes breaks. No more. 
    • Rewards! Little rewards in between finished topics. One chocolate. One short episode of a light hearted series. Texting a friend. 
    • Drink water!! 
    • Give your notes one quick check right before the exam. It’s a life saver.
  • Things not to do:
    • All nighters. I talked about it in this other college survival post. Just. Don’t. 
    • Overstudying: in my experience your brain over heats, you end up freaking out and go blank as soon as you see the exam.
    • Junk food. Sorry, gonna be the healthy voice of reason here. Sugar up. Sugar down. All your motivation dies. 
    • Cry. Don’t cry. Please don’t cry :( It’s gonna be fine. 
  • Finally, most important tip I can give you: enter the exam and tell yourself “This shit is to test how much I learnt and how well my teachers did at actually teaching me.” So like, you do your best, show what you know and that’s what the result will show. The number only defines how much you learnt. Not you.