Thinking About Assessments

We’re almost halfway through Term One now (already?!) , and discussions about assessments are starting to creep in. Worried about where to begin? Read this post from blogger Hannah for tips on where to start when thinking about assessments.

By Hannah Filer

If you’re anything like me, you’d prefer to just ignore your assessments until you can’t anymore! But new year, new approach – now is the perfect time to get your thoughts together about assessments. Although it might seem early, understanding what you have to do and when will only save you time and stress in the future.

Write down you due dates now

Yes, it’s daunting, but that ‘Coursework’ tab on Tabula can actually be your best friend. Write down all the dates for your assessments that you know of early. I’m a very visual person, so I like to print out a calendar that I can stick up on my wall, allowing me to see every month at once. Writing these down now can not only help you to visualise your year in assessments, but can also let you know when your busy periods will be – mine are January and May! Knowing when you have two or three assignments due the same week can help you plan your time far in advance, rather than letting it creep up on you.

Give yourself the gift of time

How long does an essay take to write? It’s a harder question to answer than ‘how long is a piece of string’! For some people, six weeks is the norm, and for others most essays are a 2-day job. Wherever your writing period normally sits (mine is about 3 weeks), try to schedule yourself some extra time. For example, I put a star on my calendar four weeks before every assessment is due, and use that as my ‘starting date’. As long as I begin my work on that day, even if it’s just very casual research, I find myself with more than enough time to get everything done. By giving yourself extra time, you can also socialise and have fun guilt-free – no more cancelling on friends to pull all-nighters in the Library! This is the main advantage of planning out your assessments so far in advance: you can take full advantage of the fun in uni life without being swamped by last-minute essays.

Find your techniques and stick by them

At some point in every student’s life, they’ve been told how they should approach writing an essay. Normally, this advice is made up of neat mind maps, organised essay plans, and a writing stage that comes easily after. I am the biggest advocate for avoiding this approach, if you need to. My essay ideas appear as stream-of-consciousness thoughts that are hard to pin down to one idea, meaning I actually structure and streamline my essay after I’ve done the majority of writing. This technique, which is probably quite close to ‘freewriting’, is what works for me – I have tried and tested it, and can’t imagine taking any other approach. When it comes to your assignments, start with the techniques you know work for you, even if they don’t feel ‘academic enough’. If you’ve given yourself enough time, you should be able to develop your technique over time to suit whatever style your assignment requires – don’t waste time forcing yourself into a technique that you know isn’t working.

How do you start approaching assessments? Tweet us at @warwicklibrary, email us at, or leave a comment below.

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