A fresher’s guide to being an academic weapon: University of Birmingham edition

No more Menty B’s in the library for you


Transitioning to university can be difficult from the A-level experience, whether that’s not understanding what a seminar is, or how to effectively use your time on campus. This is aimed at those who judge the speed of people’s typing, wonder why on one talks in seminars, or simply comprehending why there are no study spaces available around 1pm. As assessments loom, this is your survival guide to prevent being the next academic victim of the University of Birmingham.

Going to office hours

Visiting your lecturers in their office hours is a great way to solidify your understanding of a topic and create a professional relationship with your lecturer. Whether this be an online zoom call or in person, by being able to get personal help with certain areas you may struggle in, it demonstrates both a care for their module and improves your future grades. Also, there is no silly questions to ask a lecturer, they’ve heard it all before.

Using your time on campus efficiently

Those irritating two hour breaks between lectures and seminars are the perfect way to stay on track with your degree. By planning out what you need to study throughout the week in these study breaks, it provides a crucial opportunity to complete that seminar reading you have procrastinated.

Creating a flexible study routine

Getting organised is vital in conquering your first semester at university, apps such as Google Calendar will aid in planning a healthy routine you can follow. By making this routine “healthy,” it means not believing you can do a four hour morning study session in the library hungover from sports night.

Pomodoro technique

Whilst this technique has been milked dry, it is popular for a reason. The basis of this technique is you focus for 25 minutes and then take a five minute break. This results in the study sesh being less overwhelming as you break down your intensive studying into smaller sections.

An app which I recommend to aid with this technique is called Forest. Forest prevents you from opening other apps to optimise your intensive study time, providing you with the tools to break your infinite scrolling of TikTok.

An app which I recommend to aid with this technique is called Forest. Forest prevents you from opening other apps to optimise your intensive study time, providing you with the tools to break your infinite scrolling of TikTok.

When researching into your readings, the University of Birmingham’s website named Find.it is key for finding research around your degree. Accessing the Library’s resources through your device, it enables you access to thousands of collections garnered by the university with the aid of 24 hour librarian services.

Another university resource which will drastically improve your university essays is the academic writing services, operated by the university. Academic writing advisors will provide thorough feedback on your essays and highlight where you can improve on your essays, through making your arguments more cohesive, and aid in avoiding plagiarism. To begin this process, email your tutor or lecturer regarding this possibility.

Library etiquette

Whilst we all may lie to ourselves believing a group of ten to the library will result in an effective period of studying, being the group that talks can be irritating to others. Especially on parts of floors two and three, you do not want to be the person that everyone hates in the library because you cannot stop talking. If you are one of these people, you are the reason I bought noise cancelling headphones.

Taking a break

Remind yourself at the end of the week, the world will not explode if you don’t revise on Saturday. To avoid feeling insane, always make plans for the weekend so you have something to look forward to. You can involve yourself throughout the weekdays on campus through playing social sports, or societies where drinking is not a necessity. Your time for creating mistakes is in first year, so enjoy your new university lifestyle!

Ctrl+F

Whether your degree is heavy writing based or not, this trick allows you to scan through reading tenfold than reading it traditionally. By pressing both “control” and “F” on your keyboard, this enables you to search throughout the text certain buzz words and highlights you to their pages.

Say goodbye to the days of reading entire articles x

Further reading

Whilst it is unfortunate further reading isn’t for decoration, it can become handy to understand the scholarly field for your modules. It is important to note also, the lecturers have recommended this further reading for a reason, whether thats because it’s controversial, or an argument they agree on.

Whilst you may not see it, further reading will eventually allow you to make further coherent and balanced arguments in seminars or future examinations.

Highlighting the page numbers

Personally, the worst thing you could do whilst making notes is not bracketing the page number you garnered the information from. Don’t kick your future self down by not highlighting the page numbers, this will burn your future hours away reading previous articles to understand the origins of your claims.

Please learn from my past mistakes, as you do not want this to happen in a 48 hour exam.

Understanding peak times for study stpaces

Whilst you may think you are the main character in going to study in the teaching and learning building or the library, you need to pick your times carefully for this. Learning from experience, you do not want to be the person aimlessly walking around floor three of the library at 1.30pm desperately looking for a seat in silence. Around lunch time on campus, main areas for studying, such as, the Main Library and Teaching and Learning Building will be at full capacity. If your favourite study areas are the most popular choices for students, arriving either in the mid-morning in early evening is your best opportunity to grab your favourite seat.

There are various different study spaces to meet your needs, whether it is a busy café on campus, or a silent space.

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A fresher’s guide to being an academic weapon: University of Birmingham edition