Get that JOB - part 1

Importance of good grades

Getting access to higher education after high school is a privilege that should not be taken for granted, therefore, you need to work hard towards getting good grades each semester until you complete your degree. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and dedication to study for tests and exams so that you get good marks at the end of the year and progress to the next academic year. I’ve been asked by some friends why I always aim to get good grades because at the end of the day when we graduate we all get the same degree/diploma. My answer to that is quite simple and straight forward – good grades mean that there is a possibility that I could earn a distinction.
I have 5 simple tips that I followed in terms of maintaining a balanced student life, preparing for tests and exams when I was an undergraduate and that I still follow now that I’m a part-time postgraduate student while also trying to establish and build my career.

1. Plan your time
When it comes to getting good grades, there is no hack or shortcut to use or that I could offer you except hard work. You effectively have to plan your time equally between your modules and put it in the effort to study and do your assignments. Creating a study timetable (either using excel or downloading a template from Google) is an effective way to plan and organize your time. When I was an undergraduate student I used to study for 8 hours a day (during the week) and 6 hours (during weekends) because I had goals that I wanted to achieve within 3 years, I was focused towards working to achieve my goals and I was willing to put in the hard work and self-discipline to start working on an assignment 3 weeks before the due date, study 3 weeks before writing a test and 1 month prior to writing an exam. Now that I’m working in a demanding HR environment, I study for 4 hours every day 2 weeks before writing a test or an exam. Effective time management makes a difference between a person who does well at university and someone who doesn't. My favorite quote that I use to keep myself motivated when I have to study is “studying doesn’t suck as much as failing”.

2. Write down notes
Writing notes is the next important step to studying because studying from a textbook is difficult and there is a lot of information that your brain needs to capture that can later be difficult to remember when writing a test or exam. Creating mind maps is simple because it is easy to capture the important information in a visual way because it is usually an easy and fun way for the brain to capture information and recall it at a later stage. There are other methods you can use to write notes but I personally prefer mind maps.

3. Create a study timetable
A timetable will help you to plan your study time equally between your different modules. As mentioned earlier, you can either use excel or download a free template from Google. Study each module for 45 minutes and take a 15-minute break between your study sessions. It is important for you to take a break because that allows your brain to analyse all the information that you have been feeding it for the past 45 minutes. Use that 15 minutes wisely, take a walk or just sit in a quiet place – it is not the time for you to check social media or watch TV because by doing that you are interrupting the analyzing process.

4. Rest and sleep for 6-8 hours
Studying is important but so is sleeping and giving your brain time to rest. Healthy sleep helps us to be more productive and focused. Whereas, insufficient sleep leads to fatigue, affects your mood and grades. Good quality sleep had 3 main benefits, namely: (1) improved memory – which has a strong impact on your learning, strengthens your memory and is essential for processing new information; (2) sharpen attention levels – sufficient sleep improves your attention span and allows you to recall previously acquired information and (3) higher grades – students who receive enough sleep are known to be better performers at university (that is a scientific fact that you can’t argue against). Sleep is important and your body and mind should receive enough of it.

5. Exercise is also important
Physical activity releases chemicals in your brain called endorphin's that are known to make you feel happier and more relaxed. Exercise is good for your heart, your body, and your mental well-being. It helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and improves circulation. Regular physical activity helps you sleep better, which as mentioned above leads to more productivity. Hit the gym 3 or 4 times a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be a student who gets good grades.

Just to finalize, study for your tests and exams 2 or 3 weeks prior. Studying the day before, won't do you any favors and that increases your levels of stress which affects not only your studies but other parts of your life and is generally not good for your health.



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