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How to get ready for Term 4

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How to get ready for Term 4

At the time of writing, you're probably lying in your bed (either 12pm or 12am really) not doing anything and savouring/regretting the fact that you can do nothing right now. That the horrors of uni/school have passed you and you can do truly what you want.

But sooner or later, the threat of holiday homework and the impending doom of the start of the term/semester looms upon you. Knees weak, arms heavy, mom's spaghetti. You really should get prepped for the new term/semester ahead. Here's how.

Get digitally organised

If you're like some people I know (*cough* Anna *cough*) then your desktop is probably horrifically filled with documents, screenshots, and random other things that you never got around to deleting.

Today's the day. Just like you have to clean your room - you gotta clean your computer too. It doesn't require anything fancy - in fact it requires these 3 steps:

1. Delete/archive everything that you don't need - let's be real, you're not going to be using all the handouts that they've sent you. So just delete them all.
2. Create a folder for each and every subject you have - make sub folders for assignments, notes, handouts, and you can order them by week or topic
3. Back it up. Back it up. BACK IT UP. Put it on Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, whatever - so whatever freak accident doesn't delete your work either

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Get physically organised

This is where it varies for so many people. But here's your chance. Escape that entropy. Get whatever stationery you want, throw out all those useless handouts, and make sure that you know where you can get anything physical.

If you're like some people - you can scan them and put it up on your computer if that takes your fancy. That way, you have everything down on lock.

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Get mentally organised

Organisation of the mind sounds like the most useless thing ever. When I first wrote it - it kinda felt like I was about to spruik you something. But this is probably the most important part of the article.

1. Let go of the unimportant stuff - half of the things you worry about probably won't matter in the grand scheme of things. So don't get too caught up in everything.
2. Habits make or break you - the people who do the best do it out of habit, make it as easy for yourself and get your habits down pat
3. Take breaks - while it may seem like you need to do everything now, you don't. Take one day out of the week to do absolutely nothing.

- Mark

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What to do during the break

1. Rest Up & Chill

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You’ve probably been working pretty hard for quite a while now. Exams are coming up soon too and you’ve probably been inundated with assessments the past few weeks (and you might still be). When you can try and get in a day or two’s rest at least so you can rejuvenate and smash the rest of 2018 out of the park!

If you get the chance, hang out with a few good friends. This time of the year can be quite tough leading up to exams so support each other during the process.

2. Get some exercise

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Joints and neck feeling quite tight? Feeling like you’re 30 years older than you are? Do a bit of stretching and some exercise to get those endorphins flowing. It’s likely that you’ve been staring at a computer screen for numerous hours a day and your body’s health is paying as a result of it. 

3. Study & Practice Exams


Yeah this is probably a good idea…right?

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Himal

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Uni

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Uni

Starting university is probably on the path for many students finishing high school these days. I know when I started uni, there was so many things I wish I knew before I started that no one told me. Some things were of no surprise, yet there were so many things, small or little, that really surprised me.

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Uni is as hard as year 12

I had this preconceived notion in my head that just because I was studying what I want, and that I could skip everything that it would be easy as pie. How wrong I was, I found that it was as hard as year 12 for me. You were only given the freedom to slack off, unlike in year 12 where there was an intense pressure placed upon you.

This may vary however, students undertaking STEM degrees are more likely to clock in more hours than Arts/Commerce students. But it's not easy - so don't be fooled that once year 12 is over, that you can finally start relaxing.

Everything is compressed

One thing that definitely surprised me was how fast the learning was. I remember taking an introductory maths unit and every single 1 hour lecture was akin to a single week or several weeks within high school.

You gotta really stay on top of everything because they will go on with or without you. It's more of a fend for yourself type of situation. So don't expect anyone to hold your hand throughout it.

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Uni is lonely...if you make it out to be

While there may be hundreds of students within your lecture hall, and it feels more like a class within tutorials. It can still get quite lonely. You make friends within a tutorial, yet this friendship only lasts one semester. I call these one semester friends.

You really need to organise everything or the people you meet, and the friends you make start fading away.

There's so many opportunities

You'll get barraged with so many emails, so many fliers and so many people asking you to join clubs. It really is the time for you to try whatever you've always wanted to try - or join the committees and clubs that you want.

Just keep in mind - that all the clubs you've joined during orientation week, you probably will never go to a single event by them. You get so excited yet you realise there's not enough time to go to every single event they have.

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It's so hard finding a spot in the library

Like damn, why is it so hard to find a spot to study.

- mark

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STUDY HACK: Improve hand writing and speed in essays

I can’t remember the last time I actually wrote an essay in pen and as a result of that, whenever I had to during a SAC, my hand would hurt and my writing legibility would significantly lower by the time I was done writing an essay. 

There is a good quick fix to this that I used in year 12 to train my hand for essay writing. All you have to do is tape a AAA battery to the end of your pen. 

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It’s like weight training for the fine muscles in your hand. Over time as you get used to the weight you can keep adding more AAAs. By the time the SAC or the Exam comes, take off the batteries and you’ll find a dramatic increase in your writing speed and legibility. 

No more hand cramps and random squiggles and lines in an essay!

Written by Himal

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How To Write Fast

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How To Write Fast

You might be like my girlfriend - she's great at writing, yet she writes at a snail's pace. Now, whether this is due to writer's block or perfectionism - we've all been there. It feels like whenever you write 3 words, you find 5 words to delete and before you know it - you're back to where you started. Writing fast isn't a talent, it's a skill - and here's how to hone it.

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Plan, plan, plan

If you have no idea what you're going to write, of course it's going to be really hard to write something down. If your mind wanders in and out and there's no clear voice in your head as to what to write then your writing is going to crawl.

You need to know what you're going to write about. Some people make massive plans so when it comes to writing - everything is already set out, they just have to get from point A to point B.

For me, headings are my plan. Headings contain the essence of a section or a paragraph. They encapsulate your writing in a few succinct words. Add some headings before you write - who knows you might find it much easier to write with a set out plan in place.

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Don't be a perfectionist

Writing is a skill, you need to be able to practice day in and day out. Some people are scared that whatever they write down is final, permanent. So whatever they write has to be 100% correct. This is the worst thing you can do when you write.

I want you to write as wild and as reckless as you can. There may be spelling errors, grammar errors, or you might not even make sense to yourself when you read back on to it. But the point is - getting something down is the first step. The next is honing it, revising it, working on it just like a master blacksmith.

Be one with your pen (or keyboard!)

Have you ever noticed, that whenever you have ever written fast - it seems like the words are coming out of your head faster than your hand can keep up with? This is what I'd like to call being in the zone.

Being in the zone means you only have one task and nothing is going to get you distracted from finishing that task. This requires having zero distractions around you, and focusing only on the words in front of you. Forget all the fancy features on your word processor. Open up notepad (or a plain piece of paper!) and make the only thing between you and your words are the fingers that write/type them up.

Writing faster, means writing more, means getting more practice, means writing better. There's no way to get better at writing than to practice - so, on your marks, get ready, go!

- Mark

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Why you shouldn't study/work at all one day a week

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Why you shouldn't study/work at all one day a week

To many disillusioned students - there is never ever enough time to do anything at all. There's always lectures to catch up on, classes to prepare for, readings and assignments to do. So why do we say you shouldn't work at all for an entire day?

Avoid burnout

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This is the one I see the most often, especially in year 12. You feel like everyone is working at a blistering breakneck pace and you need to catch up. Sometimes it never feels like enough - and before you know it. you're a burnt up husk of who you used to be.

This is burnout. Why is it - the most successful people you know, they somehow seem to always have time to go to parties, go out, and have fun. It's cause when you're burnt out, you can't do anything. They have something going on.

Give you time to enjoy life

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Keeping your sanity within the semester is more than just being on top of your school work, but also not turning into a hermit that does nothing all day but study.

Plus, if your eventual goal after graduating is to get a job - the difference between an 85 and a 90 matters a whole lot less than what you do in other aspects (work, volunteering, projects, etc)

‘Reset' your week

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This is the perfect time to get your week in order, making lists of what you're going to do, what you're going to achieve and ‘reset’ the clutter that accumulated within the week.

Whether that means cleaning your room, creating a bullet journal, or having a long think of what you see the week being - this is a good time to reflect, reset and re-emerge as a better person ;)

Plus - who doesn't want an excuse not to study at all. Here's my prescription for you: Once a week, take an entire day of no studying, and enjoy.

- Mark

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How to wake up at 6am!

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How to wake up at 6am!

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For the past few months, I've been waking up at 6am every single day (well, most days anyway) and the free time I get in the early morning is probably the most valuable time in my day.

To get to where I am now, however, took a few long weeks of what seemed to stretch out forever. The alarm blaring was like a knife through my heart every morning (metaphorically), and indeed it still feels like a challenge every morning.

Apart from the obvious (like sleeping early and for 8 hours) here's 4 tips for waking up early every day.

1. You won't wake up if there's no reason to

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Ask yourself a question: Why am I waking up at this ungodly hour?

If the answer is because you thought it would be a good idea, or you saw an inspirational video the night before, then I hate to break it to you: You probably won't be able to get up tomorrow morning.

When you woke up early to go to a test, go to your exciting trip or go to that job interview - did it feel like it was easy to get up? Almost as if you could have woken up without an alarm?

If there's no reason to do something, then why do it? Find a reason, make it concrete and make sure it motivates you to wake up every morning.

2. Prepare the night before

This is simple, if you make it easy and convenient to get up - it makes the entire process so simple.

The night before, prepare what you're going to wear, put your textbooks/notebooks/pens in your bag, and have your lunch already set up. 

This makes the morning so much less of a chore and gets you out as soon as possible fighting that sleep inertia.

3. Set only 1 alarm

If you only have one alarm and you have a reason to get up (like getting to work/school on time) then the fear of missing that alarm will force you to wake up. Having multiple alarms gives you a safety net for when you might miss one alarm, but with each alarm you set will get further and further away from waking up at the time you originally planned to!

It might be a hard lesson - but it keeps you being honest to your motivation.

4. Take a shower in the morning

This one might be a bit divisive but, from my point of view, getting into that hot shower feels as good as hitting the snooze button and gets you refreshed for the day.


Tackle the world with your best self - not your snoozy, bed-headed, want-to-go-to-sleep self.

Mark c:

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Our favourite places to study!

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Our favourite places to study!

As schoolwork, assignments and tests pile up - the TQ team shares their favourite places to get things done.

Disclaimer: images are not of the actual locations mentioned

Mark - 7:20AM at Ancora Imparo Way 

The early morning is probably the most peaceful and the best time to study; but it's probably the hardest time to get up at. Nevertheless, my favourite study spot is 7:20AM at my university's education building.

I grab a spot with a nice comfy cushioned bench with a small table and get to work. The small murmurs of people already there and the peacefulness of the early morning allows me to do things with a fresh and energized mind.

Plus, I'm already at uni so I can never be late to anything due to the traffic. Other pros include that if I start in the morning I can finish early afternoon, which gives me valuable time to do something I might have forgotten about that was due that day.

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Amanda - 8:50AM at Arts West 

Like Mark, I enjoy an early start to the day as it gives me a small window of time to find my focus. 

I would always go to the third or fourth floor of Arts West on the Unimelb campus to find an empty table space! Usually, my classes start at 10AM or later in the afternoon, so I would utilize this time to do my readings and work on some notes. To complement the cosiness of my surroundings, I would plug in some ambient music. My favourite songs to begin my morning include: Undertow- Panama, Your favourite Song- Loote remix and Loveless Shadows by City Girl

Recently, I have been frequenting the ground floor of the Biomed library. I find their swivelly-chairs super comfortable. And there’s a real sense of collective stress and hence, solidarity within that space. I once heard someone breaking down from forgetting her laptop charger and she apparently had ‘three lectures to catch up on’. 

I also occasionally frequent to Bread Kingdom! Filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread, cosy, what’s not to love about this little quiet café? This study place is exclusively for light reading and just brainstorming ideas. 

In times of peak stress, you will find a flustered, red-cheeked me at home in the study room or in the main area of the State Library! 

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Anna - 2:30PM at home...

There's no place quite like home for me when it comes to a good study space. I find the familiarity of the surroundings and the sound of my mum's Vietnamese drama shows and my dogs barking oddly comforting;  a lot of people would probably find it distracting but, for me, I like a little background noise when I study. 

At home I am able to sprawl my notes as far as I please across the table, listen to my lectures on x2 speed without earphones on full volume and have study snacks readily available in the next room - ultimately, I enjoy the freedom and comfort of studying at home. It is where I can focus and am most productive.

I like studying in the afternoon or at night, mostly because I don't have the willpower to get up as early as Mark and Amanda. I also like the freedom of being able to study as long into the night as I want (or need) to. 

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Himal - 9PM back from the gym

Generally my days are quite packed so I prefer studying at night when I do not have anywhere else to be later on.

I sit at my desk with a drink bottle, a cup of green tea, my stationery and laptop neatly set up ready for a GG (Good Grind) with a little bit of low-fi hip hop music playing softly in the background.

I prefer to be alone when I’m studying as I love talking and wouldn’t be able to hold myself back from talking.

Ultimately, the best study sesh would be right after gym when I’m at peak performance.

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Where are your favourite places to study? :) 

 

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How to: Prioritise

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Do you ever find yourself saying something along the lines of: "I don't have time for that"

Or have you ever been so overwhelmed by the number of things you have to do that you end up being unproductive and not doing anything at all?

Very often this will be the result of inefficient prioritising! So let's see how we can efficiently prioritise to make sure we have time for the things that are important for us and also reduce our stress levels.

But first, let me entice you with a few benefits of prioritising

Benefits

  1. You’ll be organised
  2. You'll Stress Less
  3. Overall productivity increase

If you find the above 3 points convincing, read further to find out how you can make this happen in your life.

Priority No. 1?

Right now you might be juggling a whole lot of things. A few of them might be listed below (not in any particular order)

  • Family
  • Work
  • Social Life
  • Sport
  • Music
  • Gym

It’s hard enough as it is to try and allocate time during the week to each of the things above but what about the other areas that you need to consider, like time for yourself? 

We spend hours and hours, acquiring money, getting grades and trying to become what we consider ’successful’ only to then later on spend money, effort and time on our health which has been sacrificed in this pursuit.

It’s essential to ensure that you take care of yourself first as priority no.1 so you can efficiently do all of your other activities.

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Personal Experience:

I used to spend hours and hours studying so I could make sure I get good marks. On top of that, trying to balance work, a decent social life and family time made everyday seem like I was going 100 miles an hour, not stopping to take look that I had left both my mental and physical health at home. Eventually it took me to a point where everything caught up to me and I would frequently get sick, I lost interest in things that I would usually find enjoyable and I’d feel almost purposeless. Everything only took a turn for the better once I started spending some time on myself and taking care of myself first and then focussing on everything else that I needed to do.

The rest of your list...

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...really depends on what activities you have throughout the day, month or even year. Before you go full steam ahead and jot down your list it is important to be honest with yourself.

If you are a student who is studying, clearly studying is high in your priorities (if you want to do well that is). If you’re an adult and you’re trying to climb the corporate ladder then work will be quite high in the priority list. 

Once you’ve done this, then you'll have a clearer idea of how you should be spending your time. 

 

Also, having clarity in this area can assist your decisions about what you should or should not do.

For example, in the case that you’re a student, consider this scenario; you have a party Saturday night but there’s a SAC/Test/Exam on Monday morning and you aren’t prepared. Going by your priorities, if Study/University is higher than your social life in your priority list then the decision is clear: Study and not Party. 

Overall, your stress levels reduce because you understand when and where it is necessary to spend your time and energy on a given task. 

Alright guys! That's it!

I hope you found this post useful! 

Written by Himal

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    Getting in 'the zone'

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    Getting in 'the zone'

    It's a Sunday night. I'm typing away on my keyboard, slaving away. I'm caught in a trance, a dream like state where everything melts away and I'm only focused on one thing. The only thing. My assignment. 

    That was due in about three hours.

    My entire mind is focused, I somehow manage to do over half my assignment in that one sitting. At the end of it all, I was amazed, in awe of the amount of work I managed to do in such little time.

    That assignment had been the bane of my existence when I first started working on it, a little over a week ago. I sat down every single day, from morning until night - trying to understand, to grok all the content.

    Endless hours of scrolling through my lecture notes, the PowerPoint slides and countless tabs on my browser - all in the elusive search on how to start this assignment, how to just take that first step.

    After that first step however, the second step comes closely after. Then the third step, then the fourth, and before you know it you're basically running through to the finish line.

    That's what being in the zone feels like for me, a race, a marathon from start to finish.  Getting to that first step in a marathon is probably the hardest part. That first step was the result of all your training, all of your practice and all of the hard work you've done.

    So to be in the zone, you need the preparation, that training and all the hard work. That first step in your assignment often means looking up concepts, Googling the formula, and fully understanding what you are being asked to do.

    In reality, that assignment isn't at all about the work you're being told to produce. It's about how you produced that work - and the understanding that went into it.

    How to get in the zone

    Prepare, prepare, prepare. You need to actually understand what they are asking you. The stuff you really need to know. If you don't have a general clue as to what your assignment is talking about - then that's your first task. To actually fully understand every single word of what they are asking you to do.

    Start. No really, just start.

    That is literally the hardest part in my experience. Do the smallest, easiest part. The one that you can blast past. After that, the next steps come faster and faster. 

    Before you know it, you've done half and you really wanna finish the other half. You have the compulsion, the need to be able to finish it. All the 'tips' we give you to study take a backseat, because when you're in the zone it all just goes over your head.

    You're not checking Facebook every 30 seconds, or talking with your friends next to you. Your focus narrows, to that end goal. That final stretch until you're free. 

    Get into that zone, you'll be amazed at how much you can achieve ;)

        - Mark
     

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    The Assignment Onslaught

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    The Assignment Onslaught

    It's a Wednesday night, you just got back home from Uni/high school and you know that you really should get started on those assignments, those labs and those quizzes. Ever since those introductory classes the work just keeps piling up.

    You feel like, as soon as you frantically finish one assignment, two have taken its place. It's like Hydra, it's a never ending stream of work that leaves you curled up in the foetal position on the floor wondering where your life went wrong.

    Believe me, I know this feeling (if slightly exaggerated). The feeling that even though it's only been 3 weeks you feel like you're 5 weeks behind. One thing I realised once I entered university is that it is not as easy as everyone makes it out to be. In fact, in my experience, it requires much more from me than high school ever did.

    But you have to realise that, it's okay to feel like this.

    That's because everyone around is probably feeling the same way; you are not a hopeless cause. For every person that looks like they're acing everything in the unit, there are many more who are still trying to get to grips with what's happening. You are not the only one struggling.

    The assignment onslaught never stops once it's begun. There are, however, a few ways to manage this:

    1. As Douglas Adams famously said, "Don't Panic". If you panic, you literally will feel paralysed and helpless. You feel as if there is no way out of this but, believe me, there is.
    2. Hard work is what gets you there 90% of the time. As long as you focus and keep concentrated, all those assignments will get done, as long as you put it in the effort - there's no need to be a genius.
    3. The hardest part is getting started. Once you force yourself to start the rest will come to you - and sometimes you might even feel the urge to complete it.
    4. Keep organised and prioritise; there's nothing worse than when you realise you've been working on the assignment that's due in two weeks and you haven't started on the one that's due in two days.

    KNOW WHEN EVERYTHING IS DUE

    Just keep trucking along and, when you've finally gotten through it, you'll be proud that you survived the assignment onslaught :)

    Mark

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    University: The Stationery You Will Need

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    University: The Stationery You Will Need

    There are a lot of things that you have to prepare for when you head into your first year of university. You are entering a world which is completely unknown to you, a place vastly different to what you have become familiar with over the last 6 years. In preparation, you are told of all the new responsibilities you will have, what to expect when sitting in a lecture as opposed to a classroom, what the difference between a tutorial and a workshop is. But one thing the you’re never really told is…what kind of stationery do I need?

    It may not seem that important but what kind of stationery you use is a determining factor in how you take down notes, organise your work and manage your time; all very important things, you might agree.

    When I went on the first of my bi-annual trip to Officeworks last year, I realised I didn’t know what to buy. There were things on my timetable that I hadn’t an idea of what kind of things I would need for them; did I need a different book for tutorials and workshops? Did I need to print out lecture notes and, if so, what would I put them in? Do I separate all of my units or should I put them in one folder? Do I need a workbook for every unit?

    Luckily I had my sister with me who was fresh out of university (and had also done Pharmacy, the same course I was starting) so she knew exactly what to expect and what I would need. So last year I used the setup she recommended to me, but this year I am trying a new setup and seeing how that works out for me. Here are my findings:

    Folders

    1.

    For first year I had a different coloured plastic pocket folder for each unit. I liked to print out my lecture notes so that I could highlight and add my own notes on the side as the lecture was going on.  Consequently, I accumulated a lot of loose paper so I found that have a plastic pocket folder was essential. I marked the corner of my notes with the colour of the folder I had given for that unit. I also had a clear, smaller folder where I kept the lecture notes that I would need for the week, which is what I bought to all of my lectures. For taking notes, I used an A4 notepad where I could easily remove pages and add them to the relevant unit’s folder.

    Advantages:

    -       Notes are separated and organised

    -       Colour code makes it easier to distinguish which notes are for which units

    -       Weekly notes folder easy and convenient to carry around

    -       One A4 notepad can be used for all units

    Disadvantages:

    -       A lot of separate folders, can be hard to manage

    -       Have to remember to change out weekly notes

    -       Have to bring multiple folders for days with tutes/workshops for different units

    2.

    This year I opted for a simpler option of one big folder for all of my units. It was still a plastic pocket folder and there were dividers to separate the notes of each unit. Instead of a notepad, I had loose leaf clip ins where I could write down additional notes that were also in the folder. I still colour-coded the notes via coloured stickers that I stuck on the corner of the page.

    Advantages:

    -       Everything all in one place – convenient

    -       All past notes with you to refer to if need be in current lectures

    -       Colour code makes it easier to distinguish which notes are for which units

    Disadvantages:

    -       Carrying one big folder around can be very exhausting and hard on your back

    -       I quickly realised there was no way to fit all notes for all units in one folder – I went back to having one small weekly folder (however, depending on your course and the amount of notes you make/print out, this option may still work for you!)

    Notebooks

    1.

    For first year I had one 4-subject workbook for all units. The workbook had dividers and there was a sleeve for loose leaf papers on each one. I also had one B5 book that I filled in with summaries of the topics of each unit of the semester in preparation for end of sem exams.

    Advantages:

    -       Convenient, one book to bring to all tutes

    -       One all encompassing summary book to refer to for exam study

    Disadvantages:

    -       Can be tiring carrying one big book around?

    -       Could get disorganised having all work and summaries in one book

    2.

    This year I am trying out one small B5 book for each unit. I am planning to divide each book into two – one half for tutorial work and the other half for summaries.

    Advantages:

    -       Each unit’s work separated and organised

    -       Summaries and tute work for each unit are filed together

    Disadvantages:

    -       Can be a lot of books to manage (keep in mind that you don’t get a locker unless you purchase one, so you have to remember to bring the correct books to each day)

    Planners

    1.

    Planners are super important for time management and keeping track of all of your assignments. Last year I used a planner that had a normal calendar of the week on one side and a blank notes page on the other. I wrote important due dates on the calendar side and wrote down a checklist of tasks I wanted to finish through the week on the other side.

    Advantages:

    -       Tasks clearly set out in a checklist

    -       Important reminders and due dates are listed along with smaller tasks

    Disadvantages:

    -       May be hard to keep up and manage (I stopped writing down the checklist 2 weeks in…but if you’re able to keep it up this is a good option for you)

    2.

    This year I opted for a simpler planner which just listed the date and provided a few lines underneath where I’d write due dates and important reminders. I high-lighted the reminders with the colour I had given the unit.

    Advantages:

    -       Not too much effort to maintain

    -       Colour-coded makes it easy to identify which tasks are for which units

    Disadvantages:

    -       Can get cluttered

    -       Tasks not clearly set out 

    Pencil Case

    Not having a locker means you have to carry everything around with you. This has made me simplify the contents of my pencil case to a few essentials:

    -       A lot of blue and black pens

    -       Red pens

    -       A couple of pacers (and refills)

    -       Selection of highlighters

    -       Small ruler

    -       Eraser

    Keep in mind that these are only a few options that I tried out that worked (or didn’t work) for my particular course and my workload. Of course, if you were doing a different degree, say an Animation degree, you would need more specialised stationery, like a sketchbook. Try out new things and personalise your stationery setup to suit you and your course!

     

    Written by Anna :>

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    What to do During the Holidays

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    What to do During the Holidays

    I know, I'm late and most of you are already a week into your holidays. But better late than never right? And I mean, who am I kidding? Most of you probably haven't even started studying. But I digress. Here are a few things that you should be doing during the holidays.

    Relax!

    No really, even though this is a study blog most of the time, we still want you to relax and have fun. I mean, they are called the holidays after all. So before you go start studying hard-core like you may intend to, remember that this is probably one of the last times you can relax; without having the pressure of exams looming on you (too much).

    And after all, who doesn't want to catch up on their latest TV show or hang out with their friends? Just don't get carried away with it :P

    Study!

    I mean, what did you expect, this is basically one of the main things your teachers are always emphasising to you, and if you're in Year 12, you're probably taking this into the feels.

    However, there is basically no more homework to do, and all that is left is the looming pressures of exams. So how do you actually study this time?

    1. Study groups - if you have a group of friends who will actually put their nose to the grindstone and are ready to work, then this is actually a viable option. You can even make a whole day out of it! You can study, and go out and then study some more. Just make sure your breaks aren't 4 hours long and you actually get stuff done!
    2. Take notes for the entire year - This sounds daunting but this is key, because when you write these notes you will quickly realise what you do and do not know. I like to write down the main points and then expand upon these so you will get the key concepts before delving to the nitty gritty.
    3. Practice exams, practice exams, practice exams - your teachers will keep saying this, past students will keep saying this, I'll keep saying this: Do practice exams. There is literally nothing better than doing practice exams to prepare you for the actual exams. You will know the format of the paper and how they expect you to answer particular questions. There's no point in knowing the content if you can't apply it.  

    Sleep!

    I've dedicated an entire section for this because I know half of you are sleep deprived zombies during school, so make use of these two weeks to sleep to your heart's content.

    After all, sleep is actually really important for you. Sleep affects your mood, your weight, mental health and studies.

    We've even written up a whole article on how important it is.

    So before you waste away in your bed watching random videos on Youtube, make sure to get at least a few (if not all) of these things done. Because nothing is worse than realising your two weeks over and you haven't done anything at all. 
    So go, relax, study and sleep!

    Written by Mark :)

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    Year 12, What you should be doing now!

    Today is the 1st of August, 2016. Your life as a high school student is slowly coming to an end. You wait anxiously like a caterpillar ready to come out of it's cocoon and leave it's old life behind, but there is one thing between you and your freedom.

    It's daunting presence is at every turn but every direction you look in, there is something that will continue reminding you of your exams, like this article right here. 

    The parents: “Make sure you study hard!”

    The teachers: “You should be preparing for your exams!”

    The friends: “We should probably start studying ey”

     

    Bottom line is, now is the time that you put your head down, your face in to a book rather than Facebook and hustle like you’ve never hustled before because whether you like it or not, that number that you receive at the end of the year will label you for the rest of your LIFE.

     

    ALRIGHT it’s not that serious but it is confronting knowing most of high school has prepared you for your year 12 exams and how well you do in them will be part of the proof of what it’s worth.

     

     

    I won’t go in to too much about your end result, but instead let you know what you should be doing right now to ensure you make the most of the year and achieve your best possible result. With little over 2 months to go, here’s what you should be doing to prepare for your exams:

     

    1.     Eliminate Distractions

    You’ve got less than 4 months until year 12 is over, you can afford to spend time off social networks and away from the partying. You’ve got to make a few sacrifices if you intend to achieve outstanding results.

     

    2.     Practice Exams

    If you haven’t already, commence the beginning of your pile of practice exams. Some subjects do not require too many practice exams such as Physics and Math subjects as you’ll find the more practice exams you do, the easier it gets because you’ll find similar questions reoccurring. For writing subject tips, refer to our previous article, ‘How to improve in English’.

     

    3.     Seek Feedback

    If you haven’t sought feedback, approach your teachers and devise improvement plans that will get you the extra marks in your exams. Every mark counts! It may determine whether or not you are accepted in to your desired course.

     

    4.     Stay Healthy

    It is critical that you maintain your health during these last few months as you don’t want to lose out on precious time. Eat your fruit and veggies; you can go on a McDonald’s binge after your last exam. In addition, make sure to get plenty of exercise to relieve yourself of stress and anxiety and don’t fall victim to Year 12 weight-gain.

     

    In summary, the day you walk out of school, aim to leave without any regrets. If you haven’t had a good year so far, there is still time to change it and come out with commendable results. You’ve got the potential in you to put your head down and work! You’ll reap the benefits later.

    Yours truly,

    Himal

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    Asking for help and helping yourself

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    Asking for help and helping yourself

    When you get a SAC or a test back, what do you usually do? For many of you this is a time to look at your scores and to rejoice or despair. There's always the sharing of scores around the classroom and guessing who has the highest score. Very rarely do you look at the feedback given by the teacher first and digest that. Most of us want that immediate score to know how well we did. But I'm here to tell you that while the score may matter now, the feedback matters in the long run.

    This involves knowing what to look for in feedback and asking for help when you need it. Seems easy right? But for many it's just too daunting to go to someone and admit that you have less than stellar scores.

    Looking at feedback

    The first thing you should do after many of you eagerly check your grades is to read the feedback thoroughly. Then you should look at the test itself, keeping in mind the feedback that they gave. Now you can see where you lost your marks.

    After that, if you still are confused, then the teacher is your next best bet. They know the test, after all they're the one who marked it. Ask them a few questions like:

        • Why did I lose a mark here?
        • What needed to be improved overall?
        • What parts did I excel in?

    Asking for specifics will help you know what to improve next time.

    Asking for help

    Now for many, that would be daunting enough, asking for feedback can be embarrassing for some people. But it’s something that you need to learn to do. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the smart kids in your class ask the most obvious questions? And they never seem to be embarrassed about it? It's because they want to clarify that every single morsel of information they receive is absolutely correct. So get into the habit of asking more questions.

    Remember, asking for questions now and possibly feeling dumb is better than not knowing the question during the exam and getting a bad score that could have been easily avoided.

    How about help outside of school?

    So asking for help in your exams and tests is one thing, but asking for help with your friendships, relationships and everything in between is really hard sometimes. You might feel alone sometimes. And that you shouldn't ask for help.

    Remember, it's okay to ask for help.

    Find someone you trust, a family member, a friend, even a teacher and confide in them; sometimes that might be enough. But if it isn't, you can get their point of view, their wisdom and their knowledge.

    If you feel like there is no one to talk to, services such as Kids Helpline are there for you when you feel like you have no one.

    Everyone asks for help

    All these people, the smart ones, your teachers, your parents, and everyone you know has asked for help. The most successful people needed others to help them succeed. Asking for help and knowing when to help yourself is one of the most important life skills to learn.

    So it's best to start now, and never be afraid or ashamed, it's better to ask for help now, than to have wished you asked for it before.

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    4 Reasons Why You Should Do an Early Start VCE Subject

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    4 Reasons Why You Should Do an Early Start VCE Subject

    So it’s around the time of the year where students are choosing their subjects for next year. Year 12 students are looking at their options for further study and submitting their preferences, Year 11 students are choosing which subjects to continue and which ones to drop and Year 10 students are reading up on VCE unit guides, deciding which ones to take. Additionally, some of the younger year levels might also be facing a difficult decision right now, and that is whether to take on an early start VCE subject for next year.

    Now I know schools only have limited amount of subjects available for early start, but if there is a subject (or two) that is within your interests and in the school early start curriculum, here are 4 reasons as to why you should do it:

    It could be what pushes your ATAR across the line to be eligible for your desired course or a scholarship.

    It could be what pushes your ATAR across the line to be eligible for your desired course or a scholarship.

    1.     You have the maximum number of subjects contributing to your ATAR

    If you do an early start subject in Year 10, given that you do not fail, you will finish the 3/4 unit and the exam at the end of Year 11. This means that you will not have to drop one of your subjects to make your final five subjects in Year 12. Consequently, you can continue all of your subjects (or take on a new one if you didn’t like the 1/2 units of a subject you did in Year 11) and complete five subjects at the end of the year. All in all, having just finished five subjects and one at the end of Year 11, you will have six subjects contributing to your ATAR, the maximum amount of subjects that can factor into your score.

    Now I know that your 5th and 6th best subjects will only contribute a 10% aggregate to your score, which is not much. However, it still makes a difference and could be what pushes your ATAR across the line to be eligible for your desired course or a scholarship.

    Doing one subject earlier takes pressure off the subjects that you do in Year 12...

    Doing one subject earlier takes pressure off the subjects that you do in Year 12...

    2.     You can get one subject out of the way

    Doing one subject earlier takes pressure off the subjects that you do in Year 12 as they are no longer the sole contributors to your final ATAR. You can study in the comfort of knowing you’ve already knocked one subject out of the way. This is not to say you shouldn’t still try your best in your remaining subjects, it will just alleviate some pressure and allow you to study with a calmer mindset.

    3.     You get to familiarise yourself with a VCE subject before Year 11

    Doing an early start subject gives you an advantage of experiencing a Unit 3/4 subject ahead of going into your final year. This gives you a chance of familiarising yourself with the tasks and demands of Units 3/4 so you aren’t going in completely blind at the beginning of Year 12. You are also able to prepare for and take a real exam, an invaluable experience to take into the following year.

    I know many schools do mock SACs and mock exams to get you ready for Year 12, but there isn’t anything quite as effective as the real thing to prepare you.

    You are also able to prepare for and take a real exam, an invaluable experience to take into the following year.

    You are also able to prepare for and take a real exam, an invaluable experience to take into the following year.

    4.     It leaves room for error

    Now I am by no means telling you to bomb your early start subject, but if by chance you do not do as well as you hoped, your remaining subjects will be your second chance in a way. You can take the early start subject as a learning experience, and take on the lessons you learnt from doing it to assure you do not make the same mistakes in Year 12. Ask yourself why you didn’t do well? How can you improve so you can excel in your other 3/4 subjects next year?

     

    If you’re not convinced yet, here are some thoughts from our team:

    Mark: "I didn't do an early start subject in year 11. I regret it, it didn't give me practice for year 12 and I missed the safety net that other students had gotten. One of the biggest regrets I've had in high school really. I knew I might've gotten better if I did (do an early start subject)."
    Himal: "I did Bio in year 10 as an early start thinking I was going to enjoy it. I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would and I wasn't getting the marks I wanted so I didn't continue it in year 11. I did however, pick up year 12 Business Management in year 11 which I preferred much more than Bio. I do believe the early start is a test run for year 12 and it gives you the chance to stuff up if you do. It gave me a clear view of just how demanding year 12 subjects are and I'm really thankful I had an early start."
    Amanda: "I did Biology and Chinese (second language) in Year 11. Overall, it was really enjoyable and fun! Although, I didn't perform as well as I had hoped, the awful feeling of disappointment pushed me to work a lot harder in Year 12! So, doing an early start subject is almost like a practice run for Year 12 and if you work hard, it does alleviate some stress in the last year of high school!"
    Ya know what I'm sayin'?

    Ya know what I'm sayin'?

    A maximum amount of subjects contributing to your ATAR, less pressure on your remaining subjects, experiencing and learning from a Unit 3/4 before taking on your other subjects’ 3/4 units; really, the only downside to doing an early start VCE subject is that you’ll have to do the GAT twice.

    Written by Anna :>

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    Work less, study more

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    Work less, study more

    Work less, study more. Sounds like a paradox right? After all we've been taught that the more you study, the more work you get done. So we slave away in front of our textbooks, our computers, and our workbooks desperately trying to cram more and more study into a 24 hour day.

    The way you study matters more than how you actually study.

    Work vs 'work'

    So let's think about it. When you study, do you give your entire undivided attention to your studies or do you instead listen to music on full blast? Stopping every couple of minutes to check Facebook? Sing that awesome chorus in the song? Maybe take an obscenely long amount of time to organise your work?

    If this sounds familiar this is because you think you are doing a lot of work by doing lots of small tasks that detract away from making any progress into that assignment.

    To work less and study more, you need to flat out work on that part of an assignment, taking breaks when necessary. Himal wrote an excellent article on the Pomodoro technique which I've found works well in giving you blocks to give your undivided attention to your studies.

    This way, instead of staying on your desk for 6 hours every night, you may just need to work for 2 hours or even less, but still accomplish the same amount of work. Since you focused on that task, you completed the task in a much shorter amount of time.

    Starting is the hardest part

    If you're anything like me, then starting is the hardest part. Whether it's getting out of bed, doing the dishes or studying. You just find any excuse to try and do the task later. But when you get down to it, when you actually start, you find that it's not too bad and you have the compulsion to finish the task you wanted to do.

    You might start your computer up with the intention to start that essay, but you just wanted to 'quickly' check your subscriptions on YouTube. And before you know it, you've spent hours on YouTube while slowly starting your essay.

    Once again, that task which should've taken only 1-2 hours has dragged out to your entire night. When you start straight away, then you'll find that urge to finish or make headway into that assignment due next week.

    Should I take breaks?

    Breaks by their very definition make you lose concentration in your task, they allow you breathing space and give you a rest from the work you are doing. 

    Remember, taking breaks is good. The kind of breaks that you take however can result in lost concentration and lost time. Taking a social media break for example, might lead to you thinking how to reply to the person during the time you're meant to be concentrating.

    Make sure that your breaks are short so that you are not fully distracted from your work.

    Can you work less?

    It is actually possible to get more free time than many people. As many of your teachers have probably said, it's not the quantity of study but the quality of study.

    Remember:
        • Give your undivided focus and concentration to your task for as long as you can
        • Dive straight into your task, starting is often the hardest part
        • Take breaks when necessary but make sure they don't derail your focus 

    And really, who doesn’t want more free time?

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    Where should I study?

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    Where should I study?

    "Seriously? Don't we just need to find a place where we can do some work and be done with it?" 

    That's what you might be thinking right now, that as long as the work gets done then everything will fall into place, right? But no, how you get the work done is quite important too. There is a difference between slaving away day and night to get your essay done compared to doing everything that you want in a short concentrated period of time. And seriously, where you study will impact this..

    "Alright then, convince me. What makes where you study so important?"

    First thing's first, who you study with will be one of the biggest factors to you getting work done. If your friends distract you and keep talking to you then there's no point in actually studying. So really, if you go out with your friends to study at the city and take a 'break' that lasts several hours, then there really was no point in studying. If you do study with your friends, make sure you are all concentrated and ready to work.

    "But that's not actually about where I study, "

    Alright smarty pants, here's some facts. You should know that where you study will actually affect how you feel when studying. Studies show that the type of lighting around you affects your energy levels. When you are exposed to more artificial and dim lights then you are more likely to be sleepy as compared to bright natural lighting. So hey, maybe it's time to open those curtains and stop being such a vampire.

    "Ahh I get it, the way we light our surroundings affects us, anything else?"

    Yeah, you should know that our productivity and the amount of mistakes we make are affected by the temperature of where you're studying. Seriously, studies show that colder temperatures sap our concentration because our energy is being spent on trying to keep warm. So it might be time to turn up the temperature, and hey it affects your happiness levels too.

    "So, where do I actually study?"

    It all really depends on how you work as a person. Many decide to work at home in their desks, or in quiet libraries or in cafes. Try it out and see what affects you. Here's some popular places to study:

    • Study rooms

    • Libraries

    • Cafes

    • School common rooms

    From what we've seen before, make sure they're warm enough with ample lighting, preferably from natural sources.

    Just make sure to not study in your bed; this is probably the worst place to study. You cannot write notes effectively, and you are just way too prone to slack off by taking a 'quick' nap.

    "I think I've got it, anything else I should know?"

    An interesting study found that the way our desks are set up actually affects how productive or creative we were. It was found that how messy our workspace was contributed to whether we were creative. Geniuses such as Albert Einstein, Mark Twain and Steve Jobs had infamously messy desks, and the study suggests that this 'organised' mess led to them creating new ideas. Whereas a cleaner desk leads to more established ideas but in a much more efficient manner.

    This was Einstein's desk

    This was Einstein's desk

    So take from that what you will. I'm not endorsing any extremely messy desks just for the reason that 'geniuses had messy desks', but hey if it works for you - then I'm not stopping you.

    - Mark

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    Study Method: The Pomodoro Technique

    The clock is ticking, eight minutes past 12 and you haven’t even started your study for the SAC/Test that you have the next morning. At this point, I don’t think anything will save you but you might as well cram and attempt to at least pass.

     

    'Pomodoro' is Italian for tomato

    'Pomodoro' is Italian for tomato

    The Pomodoro Technique is generally used for studying in general. Founded by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is an effective way to break down your study in to easily manageable 25min slots. It is mostly aimed at those who find it hard to study for long periods of time such as one or two hours.

     

    The technique is as follows:

     

    25min study interval with a 10-15min break between each interval.

     

    Each 25min interval is called a Pomodoro. If you have a homework task or a study task that requires extended periods of concentration, it is recommended that you do 2 Pomodoros back to back so you have a study interval of 50min. In the 10-15 min break, it is best to get your body moving so when you start the next Pomodoro you are somewhat energized and focused. As a result, you will absorb a lot more of the material you are studying. 

    notes-macbook-study-conference-large.jpg

     

    IN ESSENCE, LET US ALL GROW MORE TOMATOES! 

    -Himal :) 

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    Organising group projects, and how to succeed in them

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    Organising group projects, and how to succeed in them

    Group projects are inevitable. Some of you may love them, some of you may loathe them. But one thing is for sure, we are sure to do them several times during our course of learning. So you better know how to do it without falling off the rails because no one knew what to do.

    Use the right tools

    When you're given a group project, it often devolves into a mess of miscommunication, 50 files named "Real Draft1.2.4 Actual.docx" and you don't even know which is the right file. However, if you use the right tool for the job you can actually know what you're up to.

    Facebook group vs Email

    There are so many way to organise a group project, that it may just get confusing on the way you're organising it yourself. Email is often use but the fundamental problem with email is that you need to be able to keep track of who sent what and what went where.

    Creating a Facebook group eliminates this problem altogether. Almost everyone has a Facebook account so there's no need to register to a new service. You can post files, photos, polls, etc. and you can even create events if need be.

    Another advantage is that you can create a group chat which acts as a more immediate form of communication to your group.

    Google Docs

    Google Docs is like Microsoft Office but on the web. Google Docs however has its own collaboration features which allows group editing on a specific item. You can see who edited what and in real time what others are typing. You can even roll back to an earlier revision if a document needs to be changed back.

    This way, you will never have many different files and you will always be sure that the document is up to date.

    Communication is key

    This is one of those key points where many people sometimes fail to overlook.

    When you get given your group project, make sure you know how to contact your group members in at least two different ways. Get their phone number, their email number and their Facebook. This will save you from panicking and headaches when you can't even contact them and it's due tomorrow.

    Furthermore, you need to be able to know what each of you are doing, so you do not overlap in tasks or leave certain tasks unattended to.

    Equal Work Load

    Make sure that each member in the group is doing the same amount as the others and that they are doing the job that is best fit for them. Sounds like a no brainer right? That's because it is. Make sure however, that whoever is leading the project is not just delegating all of the work to everyone but is also taking on their fair share of the work.

    Lazy group members

    It's inevitable, these are the people who will never do anything in group work, you might have even been this person at some point. This was the reason I hated group projects, I was always saddled with most of the work and it made my blood boil that they were just coasting along.

    The reality is, this is true for real life too. There will be people who will always be lazy and who will always be making more work for you and the other group members. You just have to deal with it in certain ways.

    What you can do about it

    • You should talk to that person first, you need to tell him that he needs to take on his load of the work, you should not however, be confrontational and aggressive because this will not help at all.
    • Try to be clear in what they have to do, they should know exactly what they have to do so they will finish the work that is needed
    • If all else fails, talk to your teacher as early as possible. Do NOT leave this to the last moment as many will not find this as a valid excuse and many will see you as trying to create an extension for yourself. The teacher can then talk to the group member, or move them or take action to help your group finish their project

     

    Written by Mark

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