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postgraduate advice

Remote Learning – 5 tips for University Students

By | Dissertations, postgraduate advice, Student advice | No Comments

Schools are back, exams are cancelled, and the UK government have a roadmap for exiting lockdown; everything is getting back to normal, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but not for everyone. The newly announced plans for re-opening education settings in England didn’t mention universities. So, although schoolchildren can return to the classroom on 8th March, university students will continue to learn remotely. What’s more, the university exam season is going ahead, and dissertation submission deadlines are looming too.

After months of isolation and remote learning, it’s natural for students to experience zoom-fatigue. The easing of restrictions means that the chance to resume your social life is tantalisingly close. which makes the prospect of more online learning even more onerous. However, these new freedoms come at a key point in the academic calendar, with dissertation deadlines and the university exam season fast approaching. The world may be re-opening, but the pressure for university students remains very much on. The work you do over the next few weeks will make all the difference to your final grades.

So how can you stay motivated for remote learning when the wolrd around you is reawakening? In this article, we discuss 5 ways to keep your studies on-track, whilst also making time for some self-care.

Clean and declutter.

It’s no coincidence that student’s rooms are never cleaner than when they have a deadline! Cleaning is well-known as a work-avoidance tactic, but a bit of cleaning and de-cluttering is no bad thing. We don’t mean re-paint the house and empty the attic but tidying your work area and giving it a thorough wipe-down can help you study. If your workspace is neat, clean, and comfortable, you’ll be more relaxed and less distracted, so you’ll learn more efficiently. Plus, you’ll feel as though you’ve achieved something, which can give you an important boost on those days where studying feels like an uphill struggle.

Write a study timetable and stick to it.

Study timetables are essential for any student. They help you keep track of deadlines, so you get work done in good time, and they allow you to plan your revision and make sure you’re well-prepared for whatever the test papers throw at you. Having a plan puts you in control of your learning and can be useful for those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do.

So, write a study timetable and stick to it, especially as your social calendar starts to fill up again (more of that later).

Identify your best learning time.


“One hour of 7pm is not the same as one hour of 7am”.

 – Dr Salah Sharief, Wordsmiths Director.


Those are wise words from our director (and no, he didn’t pay us to say that), but what do they mean? Quite simply, there will be times of day when you learn more effectively, and times when you don’t.

In Dr Sharief’s case, his most productive study time is the early morning, but that won’t be true for everyone. For example, our Creative Content Editor prefers to use mornings for physical and practical tasks (such as exercise and cleaning) before settling down to work in the afternoon when she’s more focussed. You will achieve far more if you study when your focus is highest, so identify when those times are, and plan your study timetable accordingly.

Stretch and move.

The lockdown has drastically increased the amount of time we spend staring at screens, and there are health costs to this shift. Extended periods spent staring at digital devices can cause eye problems, while a recent survey found that 89% of remote workers report musculoskeletal pain. If you spend a lot of time hunched over your laptop, it’s vital that you take regular movement breaks. Being active is important for learning too – research has shown that exercise can improve various cognitive functions such as memory and attention.

Now if you’re not an exercise junkie, don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you need to do vigorous exercise. A gentle walk and some simple stretches will help keep the aches and pains at bay, and keep your brain primed for effective studying.

Plan something nice.

With key deadlines and exams approaching, life can feel stressful for university students. That’s especially true if you’re spending most of the day stuck in your room alone. Much as it’s important to stay on-task with your learning, treating yourself matters too. So, plan something nice – meet a friend for a walk, go get a takeout coffee (and maybe a cake, we’re not judging). Planning a treat has the double benefit of lifting your spirits whilst also making it easier to stick to your study timetable -it’s easier to say no to spontaneous invites if you’ve already got social plans booked in.

Wordsmiths is a UK-based editing company that provides proofreading and copyediting services to publishers, media groups, and academic researchers. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more of our studying and writing tips – you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

7 tips for completing a master’s application.

By | postgraduate advice, Student advice | No Comments

Completing your master’s application can be a daunting prospect. The application process is highly competitive, and you’ll need to sell yourself as the perfect candidate by showcasing your skills and experience. Having the right approach is crucial to a successful application – we’ve put together some tips to help you get started.

  1. Think carefully about your choice of course and university.

First choose your course. Decide whether you want to build on your undergraduate studies, or move into a new field. Next, find out which universities offer the best master’s courses in your chosen subject. You’ll need to consider whether their location will work with your other life commitments. If you need flexible/part time study options, check whether your chosen university offers these. Finally, think about whether you want to apply for several courses, or focus on just one.

  1. Consider your funding options.

Debt can be a major source of stress for postgraduate students, so consider how you’re going to fund your master’s studies. This includes your course fees and living expenses. It may be that you can save on travel and living costs by applying to a university that is closer to home. You may be eligible for financial assistance, so do some research to find out what loans and grants are available.

  1. Check the application requirements.

Check the application requirements for the course carefully – do you have the required grades and experience? If your grades are on the threshold, contact the university and ask if they will consider you. Don’t waste your precious time on an application that will be rejected immediately.

  1. Start your master’s application early.

Getting a head start has several advantages. For instance, some universities will stop accepting new applications once they have received sufficient interest in a course. If you haven’t completed your undergraduate degree yet, don’t panic. You can contact your university to get a predicted grade, and include this in your application. If you’re an international student, check whether you need to have an offer in place before applying for a visa. This is important, as any delay with your visa could prevent you from taking up your place on a course. Lastly, starting your application early means that you can beat the rush, and take your time to write your personal statement carefully.

  1. Make sure you have all the necessary information and documentation.

Most universities will ask you to provide academic transcripts, examples of your work, an up-to-date CV, two (or more) references, and the all-important personal statement. Some courses may also require you to submit a portfolio or a research proposal. Check the individual requirements for the course that you’re applying for.

  1. Think about your references

Academic staff expect to be named as referees, but it’s still good practice to ask your referee before naming them. Remember, academic staff get swamped with reference requests over the summer; starting your master’s application early gives them more time. It’s best to choose a referee who actually knows you and your work – don’t just go for the most senior/qualified individual. If you graduated a while ago and you’ve been working, you’ll need to provide a reference from your employer.

  1. Write an effective personal statement

The personal statement is the section of the master’s application where you need to sell yourself as the ideal candidate. It’s also the part that many people find hardest. Here are some ways to make sure that your personal statement stands out from the crowd.

Most master’s courses set a word limit for personal statements. Find out what the limit for your course is, and stick to it. It also helps to plan your personal statement before writing it. Careful planning will prevent you from repeating information, and make sure that you don’t miss out any important details.

Make sure your personal statement has a clear structure – introduction, body, and conclusion. Your introduction should be snappy and enthusiastic; your conclusion should be short, simple, and demonstrate how will be an asset to the university. In the body, explain how your qualities, skills, and experience make you the perfect candidate for the course. Many universities prefer well-rounded candidates, so don’t forget to mention your extra-curricular interests. Lastly, highlight your career goals, and explain how gaining a place on the course will help you to reach them.

Style is important. When you write, use a good standard of formal English, and employ any technical terms correctly. You should speak with certainty, avoiding vague phrases such as “I feel”. To improve the readability of your statement, use clear, short sentences – don’t showboat with overly-complicated phrases.

Last but not least, proofread your statement. Mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation can be annoying to the reader. They will also leave admissions tutors with a poor impression of your ability to communicate in writing.

And finally…

If you need help with your master’s degree application, contact us today. Wordsmiths can proofread, edit, and paraphrase any of your application documents. To find out more, email us, chat direct via our website, or message us on Facebook and Instagram. Next month’s blog post will feature an in-depth discussion on writing personal statements for postgraduate applications. So, stay tuned, and subscribe to our emails to receive our latest posts.