Masters insights: January 2016 – ‘My advice for the exam period’

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I hope your holidays were great; catching up with family and getting overfed never gets old!

However, Manchester welcomes you back in January with assessments for what you have been taught over the first semester. It is safe to say the exam season is upon us.

For the vast majority of students on the MSc Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management, this is the first examination session at the University or perhaps in England. Thus, it is only fair to relay some important tips ahead of this challenging but eventually rewarding season.

Typically the first exam requires some getting used to and students are usually unsure of the approach to take. Since this is a Masters course, you have to learn quickly as the bedding-in time undergraduates get in 3-4 year courses is unavailable.

Remember that you are being taught by the brightest minds, with the highest quality at an advanced level. It is only reasonable that lecturers expect high calibre answers to their challenging questions.

Thus, the best approach is work, work, work! Not just work hard but work smart. Push yourself so you can have no regrets when you receive your results. If reading inspiring quotes or listening to music does it for you, endeavour to use them as motivation tools.

Do not forget that there is strength in numbers as teamwork makes the dream work. Sharing what you have learnt to another person for them to critique cannot be understated. Sharing ideas and conversing will help with information retention so make an effort to communicate with your course mates as often as possible. You will open yourself up to learning more.

It is important to keep your body and most importantly your brain hydrated. Drink lots of water, maintain a healthy diet and get sufficient rest. Knowledge is absorbed when your body is more receptive to it. This is not to begrudge my coffee and Red Bull drinkers, however, the key is moderation. If you study at the learning commons, a power nap pod is available on the second floor and exam stress reliving sessions are available as well (usually announced daily or visit support desk for more information).

Finally, the golden rule is to never leave any questions unanswered. If you leave spaces blank you are going to get zero. In contrast, you give yourself an opportunity to get 1 or 2 marks for attempting anyway. We all know the fine margins between grade classes, be it Pass to Merit or Merit to Distinction so you need all the marks you can get. Always put something down even if it feels stupid.

Now that we are done with the important stuff, post exam period in Manchester never fails to make up for the hard work you have invested in your exams. Numerous clubbing activities and events will be occurring to shake off the accumulated exam stress. You may visit clubs such as Factory, or Deansgate Locks for more variety. Deansgate has an array of clubs that suit most music tastes including hip-hop, dancehall, house, pop, R+B and so on. If you are into a more chilled out reggae feel, Turtle Bay may be a bar you want to consider. For the Spanish-speaking contingent, a look into Revolución de Cuba Rum Bar and Cantina would not hurt as well.

It is always good to have a nice time but it is important not to lose focus on why you are here. You came to Manchester with the aim of gaining higher education to build on your undergraduate degree or work experience. You must realise that this is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. You are living and breathing history. Walking in hallways and sitting in chairs that greats such as Rutherford, Faraday, Cumberbatch (for movie buffs) have done. Do not waste an opportunity to take advantage of this chance. If you were not good enough you would not have gained admission. So do not let yourself down. Work hard and give the best you have got.

Until next month, I would like to wish you all the very best of luck – you can do it!

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