Thank you for visiting this blog site. It's mainly writing-related posts including thoughts, tips, info and psychological aspects of writing. If you felt like following, well that would be great.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Exams Just Around the Corner?

As Easter approaches, exams are lurking not far ahead. Schools, colleges and universities will notice the atmosphere becoming more tense, with students getting nervy and staff hoping for the best where results are concerned.
By boon chuan low
It's a shame to allow the Easter holidays to be a time for noses continuously to the grindstone, but it's a good time to plan revision and exam strategies in among the fun activities.

Here are links to two of my student-related articles on which may be relevant.

Essay Titles: compare, discuss and asses - what the key terms mean 

Gain Maximum Benefit from Every Lecture to Help Improve Grades (aimed at 16+)

Here are some other tips, mainly from my piece in Special Needs Information Press (SNIP), a newsletter for teachers which I created and wrote for about 6 years before passing it on to a team. It's still thriving!

One Month Before the Exam
1  Make sure you can spell the important subject-specific words.
2  Go through class notes, tidy them up, and pick out those on complex topics which you
       can then summarise.
3  If not already known, get familiar with the revision method called Mind Mapping (term
       is ©Tony Buzan). It involves a core topic with branches out of it to sections. It's a key
       method for visual revision. This is especially good if you remember what you see.
4  If you remember info better if you hear it, try to get hold of a small recorder, and start to
       dictate your notes so you can listen to them on the bus, before you go to sleep etc.
5  Make a four-week grid as your Revision Master, for each half hour of your organisable
       time, with 25m of work and a 5m break. Decide on the proportion that should be for each
       subject. Fill in the first two weeks with topics and any further detail. As the end of the two 
       weeks approaches, you'll have a better idea of how to plan the final two weeks.
6  Begin narrowing down the most important topic areas for each subject and start a set of
       index cards, one for each.
By CollegeDegrees360
Two Weeks Before ...
1  Fill in the Revision Master for the final two weeks, being as specific as possible.
2  Study your exam timetable, noting carefully the places and times - people do sometimes
       get these wrong, with dire results! Make several copies in case you mislay one.
3  Check which notes/books you'll be allowed to take into the exams.
4  If you own the books, use highlighters for points/facts you may need to find in a hurry.
5  If the exam results will affect how you go forward, e.g. Year 9, 11, AS or A2, work out a
       plan for (a) if the result are OK or good, and (b) if they're not. This means one less
       thing to worry about.
By Universiteitskrants Univers
The Day Before ...
1  Prepare all the writing gear, and make a checklist of anything else you'll need, e.g.
       calculator, permitted books and notes, water.
2  Run through condensed notes, index card info and so on.
3  Check again that you know the date, time and place.
4  Eat decent food and drink plenty of water.
5  Go to bed at the usual time, and after a period of relaxation. 
6  Don't be intimidated by others saying what and how well they've been revising.
7  SET THE ALARM if it's a morning exam!
By Alan Cleaver!
And finally, from the University of Brighton, tips for the exams themselves. Aimed at university students but mainly appropriate for younger students too:

Good luck to all those about to take their exams. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Writers - are you a stalker or a pouncer?

This analogy came to me overnight, while I was considering my writing goals for the next 3, 6 and 12 months.  I'm a pouncer who dreams of being a stalker.

The Stalker
In the kingdom of large animals, and indeed where early man is concerned, targets are often sizeable and almost always food-related. A 'caveman' might be away for a while with his peers, patiently waiting and watching, aiming to nab a large animal to take back for cooking and maybe sharing out. It could take ages, but if successful, the reward was significant and they could take a short break ("chillax" they used to grunt) before having to start the process again.
by Yinan Cheng
This is how I see novelists. They know they're in for the long haul, and that a hard slog is likely to be involved, but they have the support of their peers hopefully (other writers and their agent and publisher), and there's celebration and feasting when the goal has finally been reached. They are willing to be patient and to make sacrifices.

The Pouncer
Here I'm thinking first of creatures who hunt quickly and descend on prey often. Something might pass by which would make a good meal, and it's rapidly dispatched. I have in mind toads and flies, pelicans (or otters) and fish, and - going back in time - the hungry dog and the string of sausages from the butcher's. 
by Thomas Guest
Cats are pouncers too, quite apart from their method of capturing prey. They don't appear to push off outside specifically to look for mice and birds, but if there's a sudden scuffling or a tantalising scent, that's enough to trigger their hunting instinct.

Writers on this side of the fence would include poets, short story or flash fiction people, and magazine article journalists. Opportunities usually do have to be sought, but this is not such a long-drawn-out process. Work can be completed more quickly than the Stalker could imagine.
*         *         *         *         *

Writers of children's books, though, could come somewhere in between. Not a 2-7 day process, and probably not 9-12 months or more. Another analogy is needed. Another time!

I'm not sure that Stalkers do much pouncing, and Pouncers might rarely flirt with stalking. I love to read about writers nearing completion of their book, completing it, waiting for the verdict, then rejoicing about acceptance and publication. Not to mention launch parties. How I'd love to have a book to launch, giving a speech, signing books, and handing around perhaps an ice-cold, flinty Sancerre to the fans of my work. But now I have come to realise this won't happen. I submitted sample chapters to M & B in the past, and was told 'Nicely written but not enough emotional punch', and I've started other novels but ...

I'd love to know what you think about this analogy, and whether it's far too simplistic. It's just a bit of fun, really, but it clarified my vision of my own writing goals.