How to Study at University

Practical tips and general thoughts on how to study at a Western university

Being human – Part 2

Point: Use theories to explain facts In Part 1 I gave you two introductions to an essay* and asked you to decide which was more academic. The question was Why did Japan and Germany become allies in peace and war? I wanted you to think about the focus of each introduction. Was it on the facts, […]

Being human – Part 1

Point: Use theories to explain facts We are pattern-seeking animals. A few weeks after we are born we recognise that a certain pattern of lines and shapes is our mother’s face. We look at the stars and see animals or figures outlined in them. We look at events in history or business or geology or […]

Imagine a perfect essay

Point: Imagine your essay before you research or write it  When you look at a red dress or a blue shirt can you imagine yourself wearing it? When you look at a room can you imagine what it would look like with different coloured walls and different furniture? Can you, like Robert Kennedy, “dream of things that never […]

Don’t answer that question!

Point: Don’t waste time writing facts if you are not asked for them This is the post you’ve been waiting for. This is the one that will put you out of your study misery. The one that will get you your degree. It’s on how to answer questions. To get your degree you will have […]

KISS your baby

Point: Make sure you are prepared before drafting your essay If you have read other posts on this blog, you will know that I like acronyms. An acronym is a way of remembering things. You take the first letter of each word in a phrase and join them together to make another word. Or take the […]

Let me throw you a bone – Part 2

Point: You can prepare for your essay before the exam In Part 1 we looked at how to quickly structure an exam essay. This approach might seem a little complicated but with practice you will see that it actually isn’t. (Trust me. If you try to write down the rules of even a simple game – […]

Let me throw you a bone – Part 1

Point: You can prepare for your essay before the exam The problem with exams is that you don’t know what will be in them. The good thing about exams is that you don’t know what will be in them. Really. It’s a good thing, too. If you did know what would be in exams – […]

Write safely

Point: Keep mentioning the topic of your essay. When I was learning to drive, I remember my uncle giving me an important piece of highly technical advice. He said, “Assume every other driver on the road is an idiot.” Now, obviously, every other driver on the road is not an idiot. You’re not, for example. If you […]

Whatever love means

Point: You can often define terms in a question to suit the information you have After Prince Charles and Lady Diana  announced their engagement, an interviewer asked them if they were in love. “Oh yes,” said Diana. “Whatever love means,” said Charles. Now, you might think that Charles was being quite cold when he said that […]

It all depends on how you look at it

Point: Use perspectives to organise your assignment answer One of the truest expressions you will ever meet is ‘it depends’. Everything depends on something. When you are asked to write an assignment about the causes or effects of something, you can always say, “It depends.” Because it does. Everything depends on something. And many things […]

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