Ideas To Help You Come Top of the Class


For those of you still living that student life, or like me, have made a return, you’ve either already had your exam results (and hopefully breathed a sigh of relief) ooooor, they are impending… Well personally, I’m happy to report that I made it through the first year of my two year part time Masters degree (in Management with Business Innovation) with results I’m very proud of.

My return to University was a huge learning curve though and not just because of my actual studies. It was more the advancement of education including changes due to technology. All of our learning materials are provided online for example and even our assignments are handed in online.

I always screenshot the “receipts” for work handed in online for the fear of something going wrong and needing proof! Last term I even had an online test as part of my assessments which was made more stressful by the fact that the internet at the University campus was down on the day we went in to do the test so we had to use data through a mobile phone and IF the connection should fail, the test would be automatically terminated and we would be unable to do anything about it. Thankfully, it all went to plan (kinda) and we completed the test with just a few minutes spare.

Anyway, this post isn’t for me to whinge about anything. It is in-fact an opportunity for me to share a few little things I did, or hacks, whatever, that helped me through the first year!

This printer saved me so much moola

As they say, sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate and this was true when it came to buying this printer. I discovered the Epson Ecotank ET-4500 at a photography event (the updated model – ET-4700 is available on Amazon, at Curry’s or check out the Epson EcoTank ET-2711 on John Lewis)

I’d had another printer at the time which ran out of ink maybe every 8-12 weeks even though I hardly used it and would cost me around £30 a time to refill it. The Epson Ecotank ET-4500 actually has tanks that you fill with ink and the ink it comes with is supposed to last you two years. Yes, that’s 2 years. TWO years people.

I kinda did believe it but 10 months later after printing tons of lecture slides, journals, essays in progress, I have not yet had to buy any ink nor seen any warnings etc. It also has everything a student or even entrepreneur could need… wi-fi connected, it can scan, photocopy, print from my mobile phone… even fax if you’re still down with that.

Always take your own notes

It’s probably partly because I’m a little bit of a stationery addict but the other part of me know how handy your own notes come in when it comes to revision. I used one of these hard cover notebooks and it pretty much lasted me the entire academic year (5 modules). That was until I lost it… or it got stolen. I don’t know but all I know is I no longer have it and I was a little devastated for a short period of time.

I will most definitely be starting a new one for my next academic year though as it was invaluable; obviously if you’re of a more technological generation then please go ahead with your tablets you can write on and your typed up notes but remember it’s like exercise for your hands and will get you ready for those 3 hours exams where you need to actually write the answers!

The quick and easy way to complete your references

Now, if you last studied when I did, referencing was a tedious task. It did take me a little while to figure out that Google holds all the referencing information you could ever need which you just need to copy and paste.

Google Scholar offers a number of referencing formats for you to choose from (check what your school accepts – I used Harvard) and I made sure I saved the reference in my work from the minute I downloaded it so it was easier to delete it if I didn’t use it than having to track it down again to use it.

Dress to stay focused

I know this one may sound weird but if I’m too cold, or too hot, I can’t focus on anything else. Actually let’s add too hungry to that list too. Wow, I’m over here sounding like Goldilocks! haha! …anyway, week to week, I would find myself in a lecture theatre that seemed to have no temperature controls so even in the depth of winter it felt like we were melting away on a dessert island.

You can check out my post all about where to use your student discount to look good and maybe get yourself a little capsule wardrobe for your studies; I personally try not to wear gym kit to class as I’m not working out and it’s good practice for looking professional. And keep your bag stocked up with snacks; my lectures are in the evenings so sometimes it’s too early to eat before and too late to eat a big meal after so I snack throughout and then eat a little more if I need to when I get home.

To all the students out there… enjoy the rest of your Summer break! I have about 6 weeks left and I know they’re gonna fly by. I’ve got a post coming up about where you can use your student discount to get cute stationery because what’s the point of Uni if we can’t use it as an excuse to buy some more stationary.

If you have a favourite place to use a student discount or a hack that helped you make it through your studies then please leave it in the comments below…




  1. November 22, 2019 / 11:56

    I agree with you. It’s much better to take notes at lectures and make notes from books by hand, especially with the exams in mind.

  2. August 15, 2018 / 18:08

    whoop! I knew you would pass!

    My top tips are a little more techy, but I found typing my notes as I went along really helped (and I saved them to the cloud so no worries about them getting lost!) and I also ended up using my ipad a lot to view lecture slides! My biggest tip however is to ask questions. Lots of questions. Get involved in discussions, have opinions and leave feeling self conscious at the door. You will learn so much more and it makes the academic process so much more enjoyable!

    (haha, love the prospectus pap shot! I’m due to be in it too, talking about how ace Birkbeck is)

    • Elle
      August 16, 2018 / 14:09

      Thanks Bethan! …you were an amazing help to me through-out the year too. Your guidance made such a difference to me and I can’t wait to see you go on to your PhD and continue to do great things in the world of Sport!
      Absolutely agree with your points too! …might have to get my iPad out of it’s retirement in a drawer somewhere! hahaha! xoxo

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