Freshers’ week is a distant memory and the first deadlines of the new term are looming. For many students, that means it’s time to don the thinking cap and get ready for a season of essay writing.
Whatever your thoughts on writing an essay, most would agree that it’s not all that pleasant. From the startling word count to the sheer volume of research, penning a 2:1-worthy essay is enough to send anyone into a flap – especially in your first year.
So, as essay season begins, we’re extending a helping hand to those dreading putting pen to paper, offering practical tips and advice in our ultimate essay survival guide.
Before You Begin
Preparation is key to a successful stint at the keyboard, so here are a few things to get right before you begin.
Find a Comfortable Space to Write
Some people work well in a crowded library, others prefer the privacy of their own room. No matter how much research you put in, your ability to write could fall flat if you don’t have a comfortable space to work where you feel focused. Wherever you choose, make sure your workspace is organised and free from clutter, which could impair your concentration.
All aparto rooms boast plenty of desk space, with ample room for a huge haul of books from the uni library, your laptop, music dock, healthy snacks and water bottle. Furthermore, if you need a change of scenery when writing an essay – all aparto buildings feature dedicated study areas, perfect for nailing that closing argument.
Get Plenty of Sleep the Night Before
Writing an essay after a bad night’s sleep is like trying to start a car without fuel – it isn’t going to work. There’s a lot to be said for the power of a good night’s kip, so get your head down early the night before to avoid the dreaded slump. If you can achieve eight hours of shut-eye, you’ll be well placed for a productive day of essay writing.
Start the Day Right
Skip breakfast and head straight to the library, and you’re denying your body the nutrients it needs to function and deliver quality output. A good breakfast restores your body’s glucose level, which is needed for proper brain function. Whether you opt for a smoothie that’s packed with fresh fruits and vegetables (and therefore vitamins and minerals) or something a little heartier, breakfast is one meal you should never skip – no matter how close you are to deadline day.
Draw Up a Schedule of Targets and Aims
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can tackle the entire essay in a single session. Instead, set achievable targets to break up the process, such as ‘reach 500 words by 11am’ or ‘finish section 1 by the end of today’. Splitting the essay into bite-size portions like this will make it much less daunting, and will give you a good idea of when you can expect to have the assignment complete, helping you manage your time.
While You Work
You’re 100 words in and feeling focused. Now it’s all about keeping up the momentum and avoiding distractions. Here are some words of wisdom for essay success.
It’s no secret that water and brain function are linked, and that lack of H20 can cause problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue and headaches. Have a large bottle of water by your desk, and aim to drink the recommended two litres a day to keep those cogs turning.
Essay writing is hungry work, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling peckish after a couple of hours at the keyboard. The trick is to avoid foods which can cause your brain to slump, including sugary snacks and an overload on carbs. Instead, snack on fresh fruits such as blueberries, and when it’s time for lunch, opt for a light and healthy salad rather than something heavy and stodgy that could make it difficult to concentrate in the afternoon.
Take Regular Breaks
Getting away from the screen at regular intervals is vital in restoring your focus and concentration. According to some sources, the average adult has an attention span of 8 seconds, so thrashing out an essay is a lot harder than it sounds. Taking a walk to clear your head can help to regenerate focus, and will help to get your blood flowing, which is crucial for concentration.
Set Yourself as 'Away' to Family and Friends
We understand it can be difficult to avoid FOMO at uni, but a successful essay calls for self-discipline in the face of distractions. One way to avoid interruptions is to let your friends and family know you’re in the thick of it. You might also want to switch your phone to ‘do not disturb’, and, if you’re really easily distracted, use an add-on for your web browser that blocks time-sapping websites.
We hope our simple steps will guide you towards essay success during your first term at university and beyond. And please let us know if you have any tips of your own.
At aparto, we create student homes that support learning while nurturing a sense of belonging. To discover more about our contemporary student living spaces, visit the homepage or contact us for further details.
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