Hang in there

I love my job. It is absolutely the most awesome job that I could imagine. I spend my days playing games, talking about zombie movies and analysing the origins of rap music. I teach young people about stuff that I’m passionate about, and watch as they get passionate about it too. I show them that they can achieve whatever they want. I observe as they realise incredible things about the world and themselves. My working days fly by.

It’s all because of my BA. My incredible job is my reward for all the hard work that I put in during my time at uni. Every essay, every exam, every late night and long day was worth it because it helped to get me here.

Although your ‘here’ will be different from mine, you will get there all the same. Hang in there. It will all be worth it.



You’ve reached the word count, you’ve answered the question and you’ve included all the right references. You’ve finished your essay, right? Wrong. You’ve moved onto the next stage of writing: proofreading.

Proofreading is the difference between a B and an A.  To do it justice, you need to proofread your essay at least five times, in both electronic and printed form, over the course of at least a couple of days. We all have our own weird writing habits, but this checklist should alert you to some of the most common ones.

– Have you run your essay through a spell-check, accepting when the computer is right and ignoring when you know better (like when it suggests American spelling)?
– Have you scanned for and fixed typos (like ‘as’ where you meant ‘at’)?
– Have you fixed misplaced homonyms (like ‘there’ where you meant ‘their’)?

– Have you included commas to: indicate where your reader should pause, separate words in lists, and enclose non-essential information (the parts of a sentence, like details, that the sentence would still make sense without)?
– Have you used semi-colons to link short, connected sentences (semi-colons are useful; they show that you know your punctuation)?
– Have you used apostrophes to show ownership (New Zealand’s first Prime Minister), but not in random word’s ending in s (see what I did there)?

– Does each paragraph has a clear topic sentence that conveys its main point?
– Do you explain each point before heading into relevant examples?
– Do you properly analyse your examples before moving on to the next paragraph?

– Is every sentence complete? Does each sentence make total sense on its own?
– Do you have a mix of longer and shorter sentences, without any really long ones?
– Is your essay fun and easy to read? Think: catchy opening line, clear sentences, links between paragraphs, thought-provoking closing sentence.

Just remember: if you suspect something might be unclear, it is. If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. If you’ve got a nagging feeling about your essay, it’s not finished.

Brain training

Ever stepped inside a cafe, only to suddenly realise that you were hungry? Ever felt tired the moment you got into bed? Had a compelling urge to watch TV as soon as you sat down on the couch? Our brains are organs of habit. They adopt different roles in different environments, depending on what we usually do when we’re there. Different spaces are charged with different memories, which all come flooding back the moment we step back into them.

That’s why it’s so important to have a study space. It doesn’t really matter whether you have a whole room, or a desk in the corner of the room, or a corner of a desk in the corner of the room. All that matters is that the space is used only by you, and only for the purpose of studying.

So, if you haven’t got yourself a study space yet, sort one out, then spend a good few hours there getting stuck into some research, revision or writing. Every study session you have there will become a memory that will encourage your brain to feel like studying again once you go back there. Invest time, and train your brain.