Monthly Archives: May 2017

Managing Your Workload

Weighed down by your workload?

Overcome by your impending exams?

Just not able to finish that measly bit of homework due tomorrow?

We feel your pain. That’s why we reached out to our friends at (wait for it) ReachOut to see if they had any words of wisdom when it comes to managing school and uni loads (as well as any tips for making it through exams).

Here’s what they had to offer. Follow the links to their sage advice!

‘Exam Preparation’

“Preparing for exams is not just about studying effectively, although that is a big part of it. In fact, if you want to be super organised, your exam preparation can start as early as your very first class.”

‘Tips to help you through exams’

“There is no magic formula that can ensure you do well in exams. Pressure can motivate you, but if it’s getting to you, you can do something about that. Effective study before the exam is important. There are also strategies you can employ on the day to help you do as well as possible and stay on-track through the exam itself.”

‘Helping a friend with stress’

Got a mate who’s always stressed out? Sometimes people aren’t coping and they need a mate to step in and help them out. Learn about some of the common causes of stress, figure out whether you should step in, and get some tips on helping someone with stress. If nothing helps, maybe there’s something else going on.

Know More About The Pain of Student Portals

We asked our members what they hate most about dealing with their school’s “portals”. Here’s our favourite answer.

Well, we’ve all been through the pain of having to navigate blindly through a new student portal at least once in our lives. I can tell you about mine.

I am a first year student at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) studying the Bachelor of Design (Honours) (Architectural Studies). It’s a very long name isn’t it? Well, it’s not the only area my university went overboard when it came to naming things.

QUT adores doing everything online. In fact, I can name more than five online portals that my university has created: QUT Virtual, QUT Blackboard, QUT Library, QUT IT Helpdesk, QUT eStudent, Student Gateway, OrgSync and many more I cannot be bothered to list because there’s just too many.

Students portals are a pain to navigate through and to load onto, due to congestion and poor internet. Let me tell you my experience – or should I say “journey” – through QUT Blackboard, which is a frequently used, highly important student portal.

QUT Blackboard allows us to view our grades, unit details, assessments and notices, download lecture recordings and submit our assignments. I remember having to reluctantly teach myself how to navigate through this portal to find out exactly what was required of me for the first week of university.

So there I was, a first year student who barely knew where to click, trying to locate all the essential details in order to successfully survive the first semester of university. I remember feeling nervous and anxious while painfully conducting the “trial and error” experiment on my brand new Blackboard portal.

Now here I am, four months later, a lot more familiar with QUT Blackboard, yet frustratingly under the pressure of time, trying to upload and submit my last assessment for my unit before the deadline.

Meanwhile, thousands of other QUT students are doing the same, as they too impatiently wait for their assignment to upload onto QUT Blackboard. This now forms a heavy online congestion as thousands of assignments are being uploaded onto QUT Blackboard simultaneously.

My heart beats ten times a second as I silently pray, hoping the page will load and my submission will be successful. Some students are still desperately trying to finalise their assignments before they too can join the thousands of students in their endless long wait for their assignments to upload onto QUT Blackboard. Thankfully, my assignment successfully went through prior to the deadline. It was a close call.

(I heard some students couldn’t make it on time. Theirs were submitted late and will lose one grade. Thankfully for me, that assignment is out of the way.)

Now my university has officially announced they will close down our one and only physical submission helpdesk – Assignment Minder – for good, as of next semester. I am beginning to feel the weight of a thousand tonnes on me again as I wait for my next assignment to come and be uploaded slowly onto QUT Blackboard once more. The long wait never ends.

Since technology will only advance and be forever loved, I guess I will be stuck using QUT Blackboard for assignment submissions, downloading lecture recordings forever.

Also, having constant maintenance and changes to the orientation of the tabs in student portals once in a while means we students have to constantly adapt to the student portals and continue on the confusingly painful journey of navigating through them.

What can I say? Student portals are and will forever more be a pain in the neck

When The Exam Lowdown

Exams are tougher than resisting a fifth helping of Christmas lunch, even for the smartest of cookies.

They’re pesky and difficult and stressful, and simply being intelligent doesn’t cut it. You need to be mentally healthy and prioritise self-care to get through (kinda) unscathed.

But I’ve learnt some tips and tricks along the way to make exam time that little bit easier, from high school finals to that darned closed book law exam that I’m not quite over (RIP me).

Here’s some advice that will guarantee you top marks and a top time.*

(*Guarantee not guaranteed. Author accepts no liability.)

Start Early. Pls.

You’ve heard this time and time again. Trust me, it works. Starting early gives your brain time to properly process and absorb information and has a huge impact on your wellbeing and mental health. Anything to minimise extra stress at an already anxious time is a winner. So get goin’ – future you will be grateful.

Study Groups Are Your Friend

Do me a favour? Please don’t get sucked into the toxic idea that everyone is an enemy who you have to beat at all costs. While a little bit of competition is healthy, unnecessarily rivalry and tension doesn’t help anyone. Sure, make your own notes, but meet up with friends to study together or just to unwind.

Treat Yo’ Self

My favourite tip of all. Practice and prioritise self-care – your results will be better for it. Whether it’s going for a run or having a long bath, taking some time away from the books to look after yourself is beyond important. Meditation and mindfulness can also be really helpful and there are some great free apps out there with programs. I find listening before bed super relaxing.

Memory Games

Finding a helpful learning technique is easier said than done. In my experience, flashcards work, if you prepare them in advance and use them regularly. I also use rhyme or narrative to remember lists. Hear me out. In high school, I memorised every syllabus for every topic in Business and Legal studies by making up a funny, memorable sentence from the first letter of each line. It sounds lame, yet almost four years later, I still remember some. Talking to yourself may seem silly, however you’ll quickly figure out what you actually know, and what you’re pretending to know. If you can’t effectively explain a concept aloud, you won’t be able to answer a question on it. #realtalk

Time Management? LOL

Study plans are great if you stick to them and find a time when you’re most focussed and use it productively. And remember: Study smarter, not harder. Take regular breaks – ideally 10 minutes for every hour. I use the 25-5 method, setting my phone’s stopwatch and studying hard for 25 minutes, then taking five minutes to stretch, grab a glass of water and rest my eyes.

Perspective: It’s Important

Stop. Breathe. Life will go on, regardless of your exam results. A percentage cannot tell you how funny, caring or vibrant you are.