Overheard on Campus in Week 12


Cassie is a third-year Commerce student, majoring in Economics and Finance. She is addicted to podcasts and long distance running.


1. “I stopped paying attention in Week 5 and have no idea what’s going on with any content after the mid-sem.”


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2. “Will you take a photo of me on South Lawn?”

3. “Oh, no, I’m not going away. I have an internship this summer.”


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4. “Should I buy a Unimelb hoodie?”

5. “I don’t know why people say this subject is hard, it’s really not that bad.”
“Yeah, totally…”


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6. “I need 2000 more words.”

7. “What’s another word for ‘argues’?”


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8. “I deserve this cupcake, right?”
“Dude. Yes. It’s Week 12.”


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9. “I am so not looking forward to Swotvac.”

10. “I watched eight lectures yesterday.”


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11. “I figured out if I get 55 on all my exams I can still get an H2B average.”


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12. “Do you think this will be examinable?”

13. “Let’s catch up over summer.”
“Yeah, totally.”


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14. “Hey, did you understand the Week 7 content?”
“Uh, I’m not thinking about it until Swotvac starts.”


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15. “Who’s your tutor?”
“Yeah, so, I don’t know his name.”

16. “Week 12 feels.”


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Study hacks

We work hard all semester, but sometimes, we just want that final boost when it comes to the lead-up to exams. Here are some of my favourite ‘study hacks’ – tried and tested for those elusive H1s.


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If you studied VCE Psychology, you probably know about this. I like to give my brain prompts to associate what I learn while studying with recalling it in the exam hall. I like to handwrite my notes with the same type of pen / pencil I will be using in the exam, wearing the same perfume while studying and in the exam, etc.


Make arbitrary information memorable

Sometimes, you are just reading over your notes and thinking “there’s no way I’ll remember this!”

So how do you make that information memorable? Think of a link between the new information and something that you already know. Turn the information into a story or relate it to something that has happened to you.

If you are musically inclined and want to turn your study notes into a song, here’s some inspiration.


Change up your notes

Don’t just write down what was on the slides – engage with the content. Ask questions and answer them with information you’ve learnt, turn chunks of texts into diagrams, and colour-code. It is a richer process (and also more enjoyable than just copying things word-for-word!).

This tip was inspired by an article on The Conversation – definitely have a read if you are interested in transforming the way you take prepare your notes.


Flashcard apps

These are especially helpful because they are portable – when you have a quick break, you can go through flashcards instead of Facebook. I recommend the Cram phone / iPad app and also Anki for your laptop. These apps can prioritise what you don’t know so you can master it.


Get in a positive frame of mind – but don’t rely on motivation

If you visit our Twitter page, we have been posting some inspiring study quotes! You can also think about your end goals – e.g. ‘I want to ace this exam to be one step closer to getting into Honours / my dream postgrad degree / my dream job’. However, sometimes that motivation doesn’t come – and that’s when we need to just start anyway. Personally, I find it more mentally exhausting procrastinating than actually doing whatever I need to do. Even if it’s not the best study session you’ve ever had, you’ve still put time and effort in, which is what counts – we can’t be studying machines all the time!


Stayfocusd app

This is an extension for Google Chrome that has helped me immensely in the past week completing final essays and exam study – it’s amazing how much work I can get done when I limit social media to ten minutes per day! I’m working myself up to blocking online shopping too – but I’m not quite there yet…


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Happy studying and good luck – you’ve got this!


A guide to getting organised for exams

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when exams and final assessments are looming! So, here are some organisation tips to keep in mind, to make sure you’re ready to perform at your best.

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Something that has helped me all 5 semesters that I have taken exams has been making sure my stationery is ready to go. I make sure that I have the correct calculator and then make a trip to Officeworks to stock up on any stationery that I have run out of. I put all my exam materials into a clear zip-lock bag and keep it in a safe place so that it’s all ready to go for exam day (or days) and I don’t have to think about it anymore. I also make sure I have a clear drink bottle without a label and a watch with a working battery to take with me.

For take-home exams, another strategy that has made me feel more organised is setting up my Word document with the correct formatting, spacing settings, required font, etc. This means that when the take-home exam question/s are released, you’ll be ready to just start brainstorming and then typing your amazing essay!



Remember to use the Book It system if you need to use a computer at uni during SWOTVAC or the exam period. It can be very frustrating to arrive at uni only to find that there aren’t any computers available. You can make more than one booking, although there is a limit at three, so if you are planning to head into uni a few times in the week you can book your place at a computer in advance. The same goes for group study rooms!


Make your bed every day

This always helps me feel organised and feel like my day is off to a good start. I make my bed first thing every morning!


Let your friends know that your exams are coming up

This is important because towards the end of the year many social events start popping up. Make sure you let your friends know in advance that you will be taking exams and might not be able to go to everything, or reply to any messages immediately. Write down all your social events in your diary so you can leave enough time to complete study and assessments. If any of the social commitments are flexible, perhaps schedule them for after exams, or when you have a week-long break in between exams.


Organise your desktop

There usually are a lot of files that aren’t saved in the correct place by the end of semester. Sometimes, it happens! You have to leave a lecture quickly, and all of the sudden the file with your notes is saved as something you probably won’t remember in a folder for another subject. It can be very useful to go through all your files during SWOTVAC and sort them out. You don’t want to be looking for notes when you have limited time and getting stressed because you can’t find them. Some people also find colour-coding notes very helpful. This is also a nice extra revision technique!


Clean your living space

I’m sure there is a saying that is something along the lines of “tidy space, tidy mind”. It is so true! Make sure your living space, and particularly the area you will be working in, if you will be studying at home, are spick and span!


Wishing you all the best for exams and final assessments.


If you have any other tips for staying organised, share them in the comments below!



Exam and take-home tips

Figuring out the best way to prepare for end of semester exams or take-homes can be tricky. Which is why the Unimelb Adventures team has come up with this list of effective ways to approach your final assessments!


  • Set up your Word doc so it is all ready to go while waiting for essay questions to be released. Format it correctly with your name, student number, a spot to write your word count, and any other information you need to include on your assessment piece. This helps ease nerves, and also means that you are less likely to forget to include these details while powering through your essay.
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  • Don’t change questions at the last minute – all the questions are hard if you’re doing them properly, and you don’t want to waste the research you’ve already done.
  • Work on essays in your local library during swotvac. It’s good to get out of the house, and you can escape the stress of being at uni during this time!
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  • Go for a walk – as a study break it can really refresh your mind.
  • Avoid social media – try and limit it if you can’t give it up completely while you’re writing your exam. Not only does it reel you in and you end up spending way longer on there than you intended (we know, memes are amazing), but there will probably be a lot of status updates about uni stress at this time of year – which is the last thing you want to see if you’re taking a break!
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  • Create a Google Doc with all your notes so that you don’t lose them and can access them anywhere.
  • Do any practice exams or questions you can get your hands on.
  • Know your best studying time. Some people like to get up early and work really hard before lunch, then do more relaxed work in the afternoon (or even take some time off). Then they might do a little more work after dinner. But that’s just some people – find out what works best for you!
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  • Make a friend and use them to bounce questions off!
  • Eat sugar before an exam. We’re not sure if this actually helps, but one of the team’s Introductory Microeconomics teacher told them to do this and now they always do!
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  • Buy some new pens to make yourself feel good.
  • Keep your life outside of study organised too – make your bed every day, keep track of appointments and so on. An organised life = an organised mind!
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  • Write your notes in a few different formats – e.g. flashcards, Cornell notes, mind maps, typed documents and diagrams with annotations. You might find you can read through more notes in one sitting if you change things up a bit.
  • Check out if there are any study sessions or revision lectures being run for your subjects.
  • Grab an essential oil you like and chuck it on a burner (or smell it) when you study for a subject, then smell it before the exam and – if what they taught one of the team is correct – you will remember more!

Hopefully you’ve found something useful here, we also have a swotvac tips article that could be handy. Good luck with your assessments and remember – you can do it!

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Meal Prep: Swotvac 2017 Edition

It can be hard to find time to eat well during swotvac, but it is so important.

Luckily, the Unimelb Adventures team is here to make sure that you get H1s in health and organisation this swotvac and exam period!

All our suggestions are student budget friendly and super simple.


Find something that works for you to kickstart your day!

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  • On-the-go: Two slices of bread with your two favourite spreads (e.g. PB + J), cup of milk, and a piece of fruit. At home, you can take two slices of multigrain bread with your two chosen spreads of the day, cut the sandwich in half, pack it in a sandwich bag, drink your cup of soy milk, quickly grab some fruit, and eat it on the way to uni.
  • When you’ll be studying for a long time: Muesli – there are many healthy options available in the supermarket. Just put some granola muesli on top of some greek yoghurt for a breakfast that will keep you full for hours while you study.
  • Winter warmer: Porridge. Microwaves are a lifesaver, aren’t they? So grab yourself instant porridge that you can heat up in the microwave for about 2 minutes, and get yourself some fruit! If you are in a hurry, put your cooked porridge in a disposable cup. Don’t forget to bring a spoon!


Options to get you through that deadly 3:30-itis…

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  • When you only want to cook once: Falafel burgers with half a bag of pre-packaged lettuce and tzatziki dip. The recipe says it makes 6, but it makes more like 10. You can freeze them and they last forever. Make a batch every two weeks and legit eat them every day during exams – tried and tested. If you’re not vegan you can replace the flax eggs with real eggs. Add some chilli too. If you can’t find dried chickpeas, just drain some canned ones really well. You can also swap the zaatar with any kind of dried herb mix, but if you can find zaatar it is very good!
  • Your new go-to lunch: Rice, veggies and can of tuna/selected protein! Make the rice on the weekend, or the night before a big study day. Scoop 1 cup of rice into a tupperware container, fill it up with frozen veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli), and bring a can of tuna or add your desired protein. If you are feeling extra fancy, you can cook yourself scrambled eggs or a hard boiled egg with this quick meal.
  • To eat at home: If you’re at home, eggs on toast is always good. You can add avocado, spinach, mushrooms or tomato for some vegetables, and some feta for extra flavour.
  • Eat anywhere: Wraps! You can make a big salad at the start of the week and fill your wrap with it every day. You can also buy some cans of tuna/salmon, chicken or whatever you fancy to put in with the salad as well.
  • A classic: Potato salad. Boil some potatoes until they are soft, cut into blocks, add some butter, and mix with cheese, store-bought leafy salad mix, bacon and anything else you like.
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To keep your energy levels up while you’re working hard!

  • Fruit salads are great healthy snacks to fuel your brain. You can prepare your own at home or if you’re really strapped for time, purchase one from uni, the station, or the supermarket (there’s usually a section near the front with small fruit salads!).
  • Sliced apples with peanut/almond butter – very nutritious, and yummy too!
  • Cut up carrot and celery with hummus, or just bring carrot/celery.
  • Crackers with peanut butter/vegemite, kinda making yourself a cracker sandwich. There are plenty of things you can make with just a piece of cracker as your base. For instance, salad leaves with smoked salmon. Be creative!
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Suggestions that will keep you studying however deep into the night you need to go…

  • Comfort food: Soup is great to have when it’s cold – cook a big pot and then have it a few nights of the week. Dahl is also a one pot meal and something you can store easily, but it is way more filling!
  • Prep like a pro: Make up a big batch of pasta sauce that you can eat all week. Start off with an onion and garlic and you can’t go wrong. You can use a can of tomatoes, whatever other veggies you have in the fridge (carrot and zucchini are good), some bacon or feta cheese for protein, and throw some spinach in at the end. You can use wholemeal pasta if you want to feel extra healthy.
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  • Feeling fancy: If you’re in the market for a huge restaurant-style dinner and can afford the luxury of a slow cooker (20 bucks from K-Mart), grab yourself some meat (off-cuts usually work the best, and are super cheap) and veggies, put it in with a can of diced tomatoes and complete! Restaurant-worthy meals for the whole week. Enjoy them on their own or with the rice/pasta of your choosing.
  • An old favourite: Pasta bake! Boil some macaroni until soft, place in a large baking tray, add milk and cheese, bake in the oven.


And lastly, the drinks…

  • You can add some cut-up fruit to your water bottle to give it some pizzazz.
  • If you’re at home, endless cups of tea are a proven way (in our experience, anyway!) of getting those essays written and those notes memorised. Alternatively, bring your tea with you to uni in a thermos.
  • A hot chocolate or chai latte can be a relaxing way to take a quick break from studying. Remember to bring your keep cup with you!
  • But we all know coffee might become the beverage of choice for a lot of you… Luckily, we’ve got a guide for that too.
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Swotvac Tips

Cassie is a third-year Commerce student, majoring in Economics and Finance. She is addicted to podcasts and long distance running.

It’s almost swotvac. It’s the time of year when you realise you didn’t understand 75% of the content this semester, you stopped doing your tutorial work in week 3, and you never actually went back and watched those 12 lectures you skipped. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips on how to survive swotvac.

  1. If you can, avoid the library

When people are studying and stressed, and they’ve been in the library for 12 hours every day for the last week, things get gross. If you can, avoid the library because you will get sick, you will feel disgusting all day, and you will not be able to get up and go to the toilet because either the librarians will come and take your stuff away or some ninja student will steal your seat.

  1. If you must go to the library, do not arrive between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm because you will waste half your day trying to find a seat

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Anyone who has lined up to get into the Law Library or Giblin Eunson during swotvac knows that it is pure carnage. I’m not kidding – it is the Hunger Games and the scenes are concerning. It is also the only way you will get a seat during swotvac. You either have to arrive really early or really late or you won’t find a seat. You can also book spaces online at https://bookit.unimelb.edu.au/ but get in early because reservations fill up fast!

  1. Find a good café, and get a loyalty card

You will be drinking a minimum of two coffees a day. Loyalty cards where the 10th coffee is free seriously deliver the goods in swotvac.

  1. Stock up on healthy snack foods

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That’s right, healthy. I’m talking about good fats. Nuts, avocado, sandwiches and fruit. Do not eat sugar all day or try to survive on coffee; you will crash and burn and you will feel absolutely shit. A healthy, well-fed brain will struggle to understand some of the ridiculously difficult things you are studying, and a starving brain will give up.

  1. Make a list and set yourself deadlines

Schedule yourself. Plan what you have to do from the exam date backwards, and put it in a calendar. Then, stick to it. If you finish what you had planned to do that day, take the night off. Seriously this is a golden rule and it is very easy. Just take 15 minutes on the first day of swotvac and make a list.

  1. Get at least one person to study with

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You don’t need to sit down and study with them, but find one person per subject, add them on Facebook and annoy them with questions. The likelihood is that they are also desperate to ask someone else questions and you’ll help each other out. It also helps to have someone to vent to about how f*cked up the practice exams are.

  1. Have scheduled breaks

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At the start of each study day, plan out little reward breaks. Like, when you finish a practice exam, watch EllenTube for half an hour. These are really important and they’ll make you less likely to procrastinate later. Little goals are good, and you deserve it.

  1. Don’t let the first few days get you down

When you suddenly realise that you don’t understand half of the content, don’t panic. That is what swotvac is for. All non-first year students will tell you that it is totally normal to teach yourself a lot of the course in swotvac.

  1. You will have a breakdown, it is okay

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Every swotvac you will have one breakdown around the time when you do your first practice exam and you fail. You will call your mum or your best friend and you will cry. This is normal. It is okay. Cry it out, go eat a big bowl of pasta, take the night off and get back to it tomorrow. Everyone has this and it is totally normal.

  1. ‘Do Not Disturb’ is your friend

If you’re on a roll, use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function on your phone. It won’t notify you when people contact you unless you go over and pick it up. Procrastinating is so easy in swotvac and minimising your distractions can help a lot. Another useful procrastination reductions method, particularly for essay writing, is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between. You can read more about how it works and its benefits here.

  1. Sleep

Some students brag that they sleep four hours a night and still smash all their exams. You are not that person. It doesn’t matter how well you function on four hours of sleep, it’s scientifically proven that everyone functions better on 7-8.

  1. Exercise

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You don’t need to go to the gym everyday day but get outside and get some fresh air. You need to take care of your body in this time. It will make you more productive and reduce the frequency of swotvac breakdowns.

  1. If you don’t get something, your friends don’t know and your online tutor is confusing you (it can do more harm than good), go to a consultation

Just go. Get in line with your planned question. Have work to do while you wait, because you will be waiting. 2 minutes with a tutor can save you hours of torture while you try to figure it out yourself. It’s also a great place to meet other students so you can help one another, and often they’ll ask about something you don’t get either and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

  1. If you need a break, take a break

I thoroughly believe that when you hit a wall, just come back to it later and go do something else. You will have days in swotvac where you get nowhere. Don’t waste your time and end up in a pool of lecture slides and tears. Take the afternoon off. Take the night off. If you feel good enough, take the day off. When your brain cracks the shits, just let it have a little rest.

  1. Plan a gift to yourself when your exams are over

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Studying sucks. Treat yo’ self.

– Cassie

Perform at Your Best: How to Manage Exam-Day Nerves

Ah, exams: The final hurdle to jump over before the summer break. The huge, sad hurdle, that really gets in the way of watching Netflix…

Because exams often make up a large part of your grade, it’s totally natural to feel nervous. Here are some things to do before, during and after the exam to beat those nerves and be able show your markers what you know!


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Before the Exam

• I like changing up my studying methods for memory-based exams – I use concept maps, flashcards (Cram is an excellent flashcard app, because all your cards are on your phone!), posters, and notes.
• When preparing for an essay-based exam, it can help you feel more relaxed if you brainstorm some answers to possible topics. You can take a look at previous exam questions (if available) and practise with those. Your tutor or lecturer may supply them, or you can visit the library website.
• If you know you have some exam questions which allow you to focus on certain areas of the course, pick your course area to write on ahead of time if appropriate. That way, you can prepare thoroughly for certain areas you feel confident in and feel on top of things – rather than trying to cover content in detail for the entire course.
• Blast some happy music and have a one-person dance party (you know you want to). A great stress-reliever!
• The psychology student in me is coming out here – but here’s a #lifehack for studying. Basically, your brain uses heaps of things in the environment to ‘cue’ memories. What you want to do is build up an association between studying content and remembering content (in the exam). It can be as simple as spending sunny days studying on the lawn next to the REB, or wearing the same perfume when you study and take the exam.
• Work out what you don’t know. I know, I know, this can be a totally scary idea. However, it has helped me immensely when I sort out all my notes into three piles: ‘Got this: H1 central’, ‘Somewhat confident’ and ‘What was that again!?’. Then, as exam day draws closer, I can really focus on the latter two piles.
• Ask questions! Even if your tutor isn’t allowed to answer certain questions regarding exam content, make use of the discussion board for your subject and ask your classmates.
• Set out ‘incidental revision time’ – bring your notes along on your public transport commute, to read in your break at work, while waiting to meet someone, etc. It all adds up!
• Exercise! Get out there in the sunshine and go for a walk to relax. If you find it hard to set aside time for fitness because you feel ‘guilty’ for not studying (first of all, you totally don’t need to – but I get it!) record your notes and listen to them while you walk or run! If you’ve seen The Imitation Game – running every day totally worked for Alan to solve Enigma. So if we all go running, we’ll be that smart too…. Right!?
• Plan. Schedule your whole week for SWOTVAC to feel organised and calm about what needs to be done. Don’t forget to pencil in some leisure time!
• Test yourself on your content as you make notes – this has been shown to increase retention. You could even write notes in a question-answer format.
• Study sessions with friends: It can make you feel much more confident going through topics with others. They do say that if you can teach someone else, you’ve got it! If this doesn’t work out, check out noticeboards and club communications to see if any are offering revision sessions!
• NON-study sessions with friends: enjoy a few coffee or lunch breaks, where there is a rule to talk about anything except exams. Your brain will thank you for the quick break!


The Day Before

• It’s really up to you if you study or not the day before. A day won’t make a huge amount of difference in terms of the content you remember – so go ahead if it boosts your confidence, but you can also take a day to relax if you think that will be more beneficial. If I have work or take a day to relax, I do set aside an hour or so at night to read over my notes, mostly for a confidence boost.
• Materials: get everything organised the night before – make sure you’ve got your student card! Try and fit your items into a clear bag/pouch to avoid the mad scramble to the shipping containers.



The Day Of

• Breakfast… This is something I found super interesting when I initially came across it: We’ve all heard the ‘eat a big breakfast’, right? However, if there is a lot of food (or greasy food) to be digested, your body’s energy and resources go into digestion, rather than to your brain. So have a medium-sized, healthy meal – as early before the exam as you can, to allow time for digestion and to enable your brain to operate at its peak.
• Like studying the day before – the idea of studying on the day of an exam can relax some people, but not work for others. It’s really up to you; like studying the day before, it’s important to put things in perspective. If you’ve been working hard for three months, a couple of hours before the exam won’t make much difference either way. I have a really long commute to the city, so I feel relaxed if I bring some notes along and read them on the train. It’s super quiet on the train, and reading notes on the train has boosted my confidence with my exams in first year and this year. I throw my notes out at the station though – and then walk to the REB ready to go and do my best, taking some time before the exam to just get mentally ready to go in.
• If someone tries to talk to me about exam content before an exam, it makes me nervous because I start thinking of concept I might not understand/remember perfectly. If this is the same for you, a good strategy I use is to talk about what I’m doing after the exam. You can think of what you have to look forward to rather than what you have to make it through.


After the horror exam

  • Easier said than done, I know – but like talking about the material immediately before the exam, talking about my answers afterwards gets me super worried! At the end of the day, the exam is done and you did the best you were capable of under the circumstances throughout the semester and the exam itself. Celebrate by treating yourself to a coffee as suggested above, or a doughnut (because Doughnut Time is at Melbourne Central now. That is only one station away from Parliament…)


Wishing you all the best for the exam period! Study hard, and walk tall – you can do it!

-Bella :)
Note: These are some tips that have helped me at uni – however, I am not a professional. If you are feeling as if your exam worry is becoming too much, you can contact Counselling and Psychological Services here. They have also published some great tip sheets, such as this one for exam anxiety .



How to Take an Effective Study Break

Tessa is a third year Biomedicine student. Her favourite hobbies are yoga and walking her dog, but she also tolerates jogging or stroking her cat.

SWOTVAC is upon us. We all start the week with grand plans, but within days (or hours), motivation fades, Game of Thrones beckons, and before you know it Sunday is here and exams are tomorrow and you’ve barely started anything.

Part of the problem is what you do in your study breaks – the ideal break takes you away from the computer, gets you moving, and refreshes your brain. While it’s tempting to spend a short break time scrolling through Facebook, one ‘like’ of someone’s Eiffel Tower photo quickly becomes half an hour analysing their Year 9 selfies.

So what should you do instead in those five and ten minute breaks? Here are a few tried and tested suggestions, rated in order of effort required. I promise they’ll leave you more refreshed than any Facebook stalk, and you might actually stick to the five minute time limit!

Make a cup of tea

Effort rating: 2/10

Last SWOTVAC, I was simultaneously proud and repulsed when I finally cleaned up my desk and had to carry seven used teacups to the kitchen. However, while sitting in the office of one of my lecturers later that day, I realised that professors consume caffeinated beverages faster than their students down vodka shots – I counted twenty coffee-stained cups stacked among piles of papers and books.

I think the academics have found the key to productivity – making a cup of tea! There’s nothing more comforting than the familiar motions of preparing a hot drink to the soothing hiss of the kettle or coffee machine. Furthermore, only your bladder and your caffeine tolerance limit the amount you can consume, so unlike with junk food you can have it at every study break!

Personal hygiene

Effort rating: 3/10

For some of us, long showers and extensive make up routines are a great form of procrastination. But for others, personal hygiene falls by the wayside during SWOTVAC – after all, when else is it socially acceptable to spend a whole week in your pyjamas?

If your beauty standards have deteriorated this week, make sure you freshen up in your next study break. It doesn’t even have to be big – just change into new PJs, or brush your hair or teeth. Bonus points for brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand – it’s said to enhance creativity. Bring on that essay!


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Effort rating: 6/10

One of the signs you’re a true grown up now is that your desk and chair are no longer used as substitute wardrobes. In the wonderful world of adulthood, chairs are actually for sitting! Make study more inviting by engaging in some procrasti-cleaning – hang a load of washing out, make your bed, or wash those crusty old dishes. Unlike procastibaking, it can be done it in five minutes!

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Effort rating: 9/10

As I’m sure we’ve all been told numerous times, exercise is one of the best ways to stay sane in times of stress. Being active, especially if you’re outside and surrounded by nature, releases endorphins that will boost your mood, and give your body a break from hunching over a screen.

You can even squeeze exercise into a short study break – articles abound exalting the benefits of short, high intensity bursts of exercise. Just google ‘7 minute workout’ to find dozens of apps to guide you – my favourite is Lazy Monster  because the monster is cute and the music is ridiculous. Android users can try the creatively named 7 Minute Workout .

The Nike+ Training Club also offers workouts for every fitness level, from a five-minute workout to a 45-minute training session. If yoga is more your thing, you can throw in a few sun salutations. Or you could just study in your active wear to trick your brain into thinking you exercised. I swear the act of donning a pair of Nikes or 2XUs tires out my muscles.


Effort rating: 12/10

If I believe social media, just five minutes of meditation a day should transform me into a #cleaneating, marathon-running, H1 student who has started several businesses on the side while also volunteering at the local soup kitchen and maintaining a glamorous social life. But every time I’ve tried to meditate, I’ve found it too boring to stick with. Sorry internet – I guess I’ll never reach my full potential.


Source: funny-pics.com

Give up and go on Facebook

Effort rating: -1/10

Sometimes your willpower just disappears. It’s okay. You deserve to watch those puppy videos.

Source: giphy.com


Good luck for SWOTVAC everyone!

– Tessa

Handy Apps for Swotvac and Exams

Alain is a staff writer for Unimelb Adventures. He is a a first year B.A student who is going to major in Politics and International Studies and Media and Communications. He enjoys travelling, photography and looking for the next hot restaurant to rave about whilst crying at his bank balance.

Do you find yourself taking millions of Snapchat selfies? Do you get the sense that time is passing you by way too quickly and you don’t know why?

With Swotvac in full swing, here are some suggestions of great free apps that can help you maximise your study whilst minimising your procrastination.

Revision Apps

  1. Quizlet

Quizlet is a study app that lets you create flashcards in interactive ways. The app allows you to play mini-games with your notes and even has audio options for your revision.

  1. Brainscape – Smart Flashcards

Brainscape is another flashcard app that seeks to promote interactivity in revision.  It provides “brain games” and personalisation of your study plan. The app also allows users to share their flashcards and collaborate with other people.

  1. Mindmeister

If you’re more of a visual learner like me, Mindmeister could be the app for you! It lets you create mind-maps and organise them into folders. Like other apps, users can collaborate and even make changes to the mind-map in real time.

Source: Giphy.com

Organisation Apps

  1. Evernote

You’ve probably heard of Evernote and maybe even use it already, but if you don’t it is well worth a try. The app is a multifaceted platform that provides bookmarking, note taking, clipping and list services. All of which are essential for organising notes come exam time.

  1. Tide

This is a minimalistic app that seeks to provide a simple way of keeping up with the pomodoro method. For those who don’t know the pomodoro method is a time management strategy named after a tomato!  It is essentially 25 minutes of focussed work followed by a 5 minute break repeated. The app provides multiple background sounds, such as the ocean or a busy cafe. If that doesn’t suit you can even play your music over it.

  1. Any.do

Any.do is a simple list making and to-do app. It lets you customise categories for your needs and provides a self-tailored priority list for your day. Just touch, swipe and drag and you’re a listastic any.do user.

  1. Google

Google has many apps to offer, but the main ones are: Docs, Sheets, Drive, Photos and Calendar. They offer a seamless and intuitive experience for your organisational needs. Handy tip- because every student email account is using Google, you can have double the storage if you use both your UniMelb and personal accounts.

  1. Scannable

Brought to you by the people behind Evernote, Scannable is a mobile scanning app. You simply use your phone’s camera and it automatically detects pieces of paper. It can be fiddly but it’s useful if you don’t have access to a scanner.

  1. Slack

This is a team communication app. If you want to send messages only relating to study, then Slack is the way to go. You can organise chats to different folders and with individuals. It can be more effective than Facebook as there is no newsfeed or pictures of dogs – meaning you are less likely to be distracted!

Source: Reddit.com

Study Break and Fun Apps

Doing well in exams isn’t just about cramming and studying until 6am. You need a balance of study and cool down periods. Of course there are your social media apps and actually GOING OUTSIDE but here are some apps I’ve used in the past while taking a study break and revising at a more leisurely pace.

  1. StumbleUpon

I call this app (which is also a website) the procrastination app. Just sign up with your email or Facebook account, choose a few topics that interest you and the site will give you random links (pictures, comics, sites, videos, essays etc) that you can divulge in.

  1. Khan Academy

Many of my friends who do Science have found this great. Apparently it explains topics really well, from calculus to history. The site or app is organised into categories and within them, are videos going through key concepts and examples. There are also interactive exercises to track your progress.

  1. Curious

Curious is an app that aims to provide you with new pieces of knowledge everyday. You can customise how much time you have a day (5, 15 or 30 minutes) and the app will tailor your needs with video lessons, such as, how to create a budget, play guitar or mindfulness meditation.

  1. TED

You’ve probably already heard of TED Talks and your subject tutors and lecturers might already use it, but TED is a wide-reaching platform that is worth you taking a look at as well. It has a speech on just about anything, from spam emails to breakups, and there is surely something that can inspire you or help you revise.

  1. Menulog/Foodora/Ubereats/DeliveryHero

Food is a very important commodity in studying. With these apps, you can get it delivered to you. If you’re in area that’s not a library or uni, having food delivered to you can save time and prevent you from having to go down to the closest cafe/KFC/friend’s apartment. Be careful, however, as some of the apps require a minimum spend and remember to try and eat healthy – it can actually improve your brain power!

  1. Beanhunter

The daily fix of java is one of the post popular  motivations  for leaving the house to study. It seems we just can’t get enough coffee whilst studying and many students even find cafes great study locations. If you’re one of these people, this app can help you! It shows a map of the closest and highest rated coffee shops within your area. Perfect for when you need your caffeine fix or you’re in the ERC or Baillieu at 12pm going up and down the stairs trying to find a study spot.

Source: Giphy.com

If you know of any other apps that might be of interest to your fellow students, feel free to comment below!

– Alain

Preparing for Every Type of Assessment

Assessments are always a bit stressful, but they’re especially daunting at the end of semester. Our wonderful team has compiled some handy tips so that you can make sure you’re prepared for any and every type of assessment you have ahead of you and get through the exam period as smoothly as possible!

Essays that run all semester

  • Start a plan early and stick to it! This is not the assessment you can do the night before. At all. Divide your tasks into stages like research, planning, drafting, editing and give yourself a deadline for each stage.
  • Use the few days you have before it is due to do some heavy editing. When you’ve been working on something for such a long time, it’s easy to slip up a few times. Make sure it reads as a whole coherent piece and you don’t end up repeating yourself all the time!
  • Get someone else to read over it. It’s easy to get so sick of something that you just don’t care anymore when you’ve been slaving away on it for a whole semester, so someone else might pick up on things you wouldn’t even notice.
  • Don’t be scared to change/completely scrap ideas that you thought were great at the start of semester. Your ideas will change as you learn more and that’s okay!

Essays over a few weeks 

  • Make a word document with all of the useful quotes and arguments you come across in your readings! This means that instead of having to go back through them when you’re writing up your essay, you can see all of them in the one place. It’s also a good idea to organise them into subheadings for arguments and/or paragraphs.
  • Sometimes, even if you don’t feel like it, you just have to get words on the page. You can always revise the paragraph later. It feels so much better having written something, rather than putting it off due to lack of inspiration, and subsequently having a Red Bull-fuelled freak out session the day before it’s due.
  • Don’t waste time trying to write a great sentence. Write a bad sentence that you can fix. Even if sometimes the words don’t make any sense – just write them down. It’s okay if your first draft looks like this:

”It is important to note that [the theorist person] was criticised for [get a quote].”

  • Don’t be scared to consult with your tutor if you’re feeling a bit lost. They aren’t allowed to tell you what to write, but they are allowed to tell you if writing an entire essay on Beyoncé is a good idea or not.


Source: chroniclesofanhrnewbie.wordpress.com

Sit-down, closed-book exam

  • Don’t focus on memorising the content word-for-word. While you might need to know some key definitions, these types of exams generally aim to test your understanding of concepts rather than how well you can memorise things.
  • Make the most of any practice questions you’ve been given throughout the semester, and do them multiple times until you’re getting most of them right – especially if there’s a chance the same questions will be on the exam.
  • Do your required readings! Even if you won’t be examined on them, a lot of the time they’re prescribed because they give you a deeper understanding of key concepts.
  • Don’t rely on reading over your notes on the day of your exam to help you pass. You’ll perform much better if you study the content over the space of a week or so, and use the day of the exam to look after yourself and make sure you’re in a good mindset.
  • If your exam involves any mathematic formulas, make sure you check in advance to see whether or not said formulas will be provided (which often happens in subjects like Psych). You don’t want to waste time memorising them if you’re going to have them given to you in the exam anyway!
  • Go to revision lectures! Even though lecturers and tutors are not allowed to tell you what will be on the exam, they often show their appreciation to the people who turn up to these lectures through subtle hints.

Open-book exam

  • Do not fall into the trap of thinking an open-book exam is going to be easier. You will be expected to work at a higher standard and/or achieve more in the time allotted.
  • Do practice exams! Don’t think it’s okay to not learn and practice the content just because you’ll have it in your notes. Save your notes for those things with really long/complex/annoying names you know you just won’t remember.
  • If there’s something you can study and remember off by heart, do so! It can be best to think of open-book exams like closed-book ones – that is, you still need to study things, but with the back-up of having notes for the things you find tricky.
  • Make your notes really really easy to navigate. You don’t want to waste your time looking for information in your notes. You need to know where each topic is located and be able to quickly reach that page. Colour coding, tabs, and a table of contents are all good ways of achieving this.
  • If you’re only allowed to bring in a certain amount of pages, don’t try to cram as much as you can into them. While writing down key concepts in your margins in handwriting so small it looks like it’s been written by an ant might seem like a smart idea at the time, it’ll mean you’ll be spending a lot of time trying to decipher your notes and less time actually doing your exam.


Source: pinimg.org

Take-home exam

  • Make sure you’ve done your readings! A lot of the time tutors are more than okay with you mostly focusing on the prescribed readings in take-home exams, so if you’ve done them in advance you’ll save yourself a lot of time.
  • Make a really specific plan in advance. Try to keep yourself on track with several key checkpoints throughout the exam. For example, decide when you’ll stop planning, when you’ll start editing etc. Several smaller goals are much easier to achieve than one big one!
  • Plan out where and when you’re going to do the exam in advance. Take-home exams are time sensitive, so you don’t want to realise that you’re working over the 3 days you have to complete it at the last minute, or suddenly decide you can only do work in the library when it’s already 3pm and you won’t be able to find an empty seat.
  • Make sure you have good food on hand. The last thing you want is a sugar crash 2 hours before the exam is due.
  • Go to your tutorials/catch up on any tutorial content you missed. The concepts and ideas that you’ll be getting great marks for in take-home exams are often the same ones that are discussed in tutes throughout the semester, and sometimes tutors are generous enough to discuss specific questions that appear on the actual exam.


  • Keep in mind that presentations are not the same as essays, and you will have to read it aloud. It’s better to write it in the way that you usually speak, rather than trying to fit in a lot of impressive words that will sound weird and forced when you’re actually presenting.
  • While some people can memorise entire presentations off by heart, a lot of people cannot. If you’re in the latter category, it’s a good idea to write out your presentation and then put it all into dot points. This way you won’t freak out during the presentation if you forget a sentence and lose where you’re up to.
  • Make sure you read your presentation aloud to practice, and not just in your head. Add in commas when you take a breath if you have written it down word-for-word. It can be really helpful to record yourself reading your presentation aloud to a) work out if you need to add more intonation and b) to listen to it over and over while doing other things to help with memorisation.
  • Try to practice in the room you’ll be presenting in. You’ll be able to focus much better if you already know the layout of the room, where the audience will be, the size of the podium etc.

Source: fanpop.com

Group project

  • Vent your stress in a productive and useful way outside of group meetings. When there’s a group of people under pressure, it’s very easy to get angry with your team. If one member isn’t pulling their weight or has stinky feet or chews loudly, tell your cat all about it, go for a walk, cook something – do anything that doesn’t involve bringing your frustration to meetings.
  • Bring snacks. Everyone is happier when they’ve had something to eat.
  • Try to be as flexible as possible. It’s frustrating when you can’t seem to find a time for all of you to meet, but keep in mind that people have commitments like work and other assessments that they have to schedule meetings around. If someone can’t make it, it’s not the end of the world. You can always Skype them in, get them to send through their input ahead of time, or send them a summary of the meeting afterwards.
  • If someone isn’t putting in any work, talk to them about it. While it’s tempting to cut them out of all future decisions and complain to your other group members about them, sometimes things can be resolved with a simple conversation.


  • Make sure you are well-presented. Your appearance can make a huge difference overall! If you don’t have a set costume, wearing all black usually works well for things like drama. Try not to wear anything that could be deemed as inappropriate by the examiners, but make sure whatever you wear is super comfortable!
  • It’s crucial that you are patient, polite, and display common courtesy towards your examiners. Also make sure you have your printed scores ready to give to them!
  • Be well-prepared for your performance. This means having lots of mock performances, or technical exams. The more you practice in front of an audience, the more you can deal with pressure, nerves and so on. Blind practicing also helps for all performers!
  • Be there early. Once you miss your performance time, there’s no alternative way to organise it again.
  • If you have any questions about your performance, don’t hesitate to contact your teacher. They are there to help you to be the greatest you can be. You can also get your friends to give you suggestions on how you can improve.
  • Warming up before music performances is essential! Try not to overdo it – an hour or so of warming up should be more than enough. If you’re doing a recital, two hours is the max.


Source: sharegif.com

No matter what type of assessment you’ve got ahead of you, the best you can do is know your content, manage your time wisely, and most importantly have faith in yourself! Not undermining your abilities and surrounding yourself with people who want to see you do your best does wonders, regardless of whether you’re writing an essay or preparing for a big performance. Good luck!

– The Unimelb Adventures Team


Need a new study spot? A guide to the Lenton Parr Music Library

Located on the first floor of the HUB Building at the VCA campus (Southbank), music students like myself enjoy using the Lenton Parr Library! I am super hyped to be telling you guys about this library, as this is the first time it’s being featured on the blog.

You can enter the library via the first floor of the HUB Building (VCA Campus)

Here are ten reasons why Lenton Parr is one of my favourite libraries at the University of Melbourne, and why I recommend it as a study spot.

1.It’s quiet, and peaceful

It is way more peaceful than the Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library in the Eastern Resource Centre (Level 2), and I just love this. There are windows to see the scenery, comfy seats, and power cords. It’s such a chilled area, small and quiet. I feel it’s a special little gem to me, as a music student. According to the gossip around VCA and at the Con (Melbourne Conservatorium of Music), Lennon Parr will be expanded in the near future, and combined with the Louise Hanson-Dyer section of the ERC!

Scenery + comfy seats + nice tables = ooh!

2. Specialised music librarians…

… that are always there!

I know the ERC has music librarians, but often there are only general librarians working at the front desk. Whenever I go to the ERC to find a music resource, I’ve found that asking a general librarian may be a longer process, as they may have to email a music librarian for clarification.  Of course, they are more than happy to find any resource for you, regardless of what they specialise or are trained in. We, as music students, always have patience with them. But it is helpful to know that there are specialised music librarians at Lenton Parr when you need a resource, such as a score, quickly.

3.Somebody borrowed what you need at Louise Hanson-Dyer? You can go to Lenton Parr!

Even though it takes about half an hour by tram (just alight at ‘Arts Precinct’), the trip will be worth it when you find an extra copy of a resource. Heck, no one even goes there, so there’s always an extra copy… unless somebody borrowed it in desperate need at Lenton Parr. Booo!

4.Avaliable seats to study

Again, it’s VCA. If I was at Parkville and I couldn’t find a seat at any library or study space,  I would definitely go to Lenton Parr to study. Again, it takes half an hour to go there, but there’s always a free seat – a treasured rarity during SWOTVAC! There are also study rooms you can book! All of the rooms are media rooms, but two of them have a table and seats as well for studying.

5. Media rooms

When I was at VCA trying to find a working power cord last week, I discovered that two of the study/media rooms had bean bags, TV, DVD players and nice couches. I was AMAZED by this at Lenton Parr. You can book one of these media rooms using the booking system. Remember to book in advance to avoid missing out.

6. Additional resources

It can be a little annoying if a resource you need is at another campus. But when you get it, it’s so satisfying, and it’s a little special when you finally get your hands on it. One time, I had to go to VCA to check out a specific music theory book that my Aural Studies 1 tutor told me to borrow. When I borrowed and had a read of it, it was amazing and easy to read. Truly worth the trip from Parkville to Southbank!

7. Listening Rooms

There’s a room that is dedicated to listening to vinyl records, or CDs, and no one even goes there. I think it is pretty cool that they have these things, especially for Fine Arts students.

listening room.jpg
The ‘Listening Rooms’ are really helpful for Fine Arts students.

8. Additional magazines, CDs, vinyl records, and fine arts resources

When I was looking out for extra resources for one of my music history subjects, there were fine arts resources at Lenton Parr that looked interesting to read. I wished I could have read them, but I had to focus on my research. There were also magazines, DVDs, loads of CDs and vinyl records that were cool to check out.

much resource
Never short on resources.

9.Academic support

There are also iTute (individual tutorial) services catered towards music and fine arts students. These are also iTutes at the Parkville campus, which I’ve heard are superb – but just letting you know that they are also offered at the VCA!

I haven’t had an iTute service yet, mainly because I was hesitant to use it all at once (a maximum of four appointments per semester). Silly first year thinking! This year, I’m willing to use them when I write my research essay, which is worth most of my total mark in Music History 2: 19th Century Music and Ideas.

So many cool things to check out, especially for music students.

10. Small library = super win when needing help

Compared to a huge library with multiple floors, you can easily get help at the front desk, since there aren’t usually many people around. The staff can help you in a tick, whether you need help finding a DVD, scores, or anything! Also, the coding system for finding scores could get a little complicated. So having their help that is reliable, easy to ask for and readily available, makes your life easier!

A quiet and peaceful library!

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I recommend checking out the Lenton Parr library as a study space the pre-exam period!




The 7 Stages of Failing (When You Weren’t Expecting To)

Joey has just completed a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing and is graduating in a week, so if your Dad is the handsome, recently-divorced CEO of either Random House or Penguin, please let her know so she can get in touch.

I work in one of the Student Hubs, and during this time of year we serve a long stream of students who haven’t passed a subject. I’ve found that students who have failed go through something  roughly similar to the seven stages of grief… and normally all within the five minutes that they’re with me at the front counter.

So here are the Seven Stages of Failing (when you weren’t expecting to) and the things that can get you through it:

1) Shock/Disbelief

Image: tumblr.com

Normal reaction: ‘There’s an N next to my mark… Lol?’

If you have an N (short for ‘Nah m8’) next to your mark, it’s likely you’ve failed enough assessment that you haven’t satisfied the subject requirements. If it’s an NH (‘Nah m8, dat Hurdle’), it means you’ve failed to meet a hurdle requirement (such as attendance).

Strap yourself in for a rollercoaster of emotions.

2) Denial

Image: pinimg.com

Normal reaction: ‘There’s obviously been a mistake. I can’t believe they managed to type a 45 instead of a 95, how embarrassing for them… Lol?’

Look, mistakes happen. But when a result is visible in your portal, it means it’s already been entered, checked and double-checked, so it’s more likely than it is unlikely that it’s the incorrect mark. I know it’s hard to hear but… you didn’t pass the subject.

3) Anger

Image: giphy.com

Normal reaction: ‘This is completely unfair!’ *student rips off shirt* ‘I am paying a LOT of money to go to this university!’ *student punches the sky* ‘WHY ME???’ *student backflips off my desk* ‘My father will be hearing about this!’

Look, it’s normal for you to be pissed – but please remember that it’s rarely anyone’s fault. Writing an angry email to your subject coordinator won’t help, and neither will abusing staff members at the Student Hub. If you need to, go and punch-dance out your rage in a wooded glen.

4) Bargaining 

Image: geeksdownunder.files.wordpress.com

Normal reaction: ‘How about I just email my subject coordinator?? What if they say I can retake the exam?? Can’t I just do four other subjects and re-take this exam next year?? What about additional assessment??’

As a staff member, one of the most difficult things to deal with is watching a student’s hope slowly die while you murder all their future happiness. So here we go – I’m going to try and crush your dreams as gently as possible:

  • You wake up in a meadow of wildflowers. A fairy alights on your shoulder and says, ‘If you didn’t apply for special consideration within four business days of sitting your exam or assessment, then you are unable to be considered for a supplementary exam.’ She kisses you gently on the forehead and flies away.
  • You are centre field, playing your favourite sport at the highest level possible. You kick a goal/score a three-pointer/stick the landing, and a crowd of thousands chant your name: ‘STU-DENT! STU-DENT!’ Your sporting hero approaches you and, ruffling your hair, says, ‘You’ve got what it takes, kid. Appealing a result is a three step process, which starts by organising an appointment with your subject coordinator to review your exam. You can find more details here.’
  • You are sitting in a fountain of chocolate while your favourite celebrity massages your shoulders. They lean forward, smell your hair and whisper, ‘Is it your final or penultimate semester? Did you fail with a mark between 40-49%? If so, click here as you may be eligible for the Final Subject Rule and be awarded additional assessment. But remember! It’s automatically assessed, so you have to wait for notification via student email.’

5) Guilt 

Image: cdn.charactergrades.com

Normal reaction: ‘I failed because on the third Saturday before the exam I stayed up an extra half hour so I could finish watching Season Six of Gilmore Girls.’ Or, even worse: ‘I studied so hard I became incontinent and I still failed? I am certified Trash™.’

This is a shitty stage, but remember: people fail all the time. If I could, I’d wear a Go-Pro at my job and send the video to you – things are put into perspective when you see 17 people in a row sit down and tell you that they’ve failed, and you’re doing that five days a week.

6) Depression 

Image: amazonaws.com

Normal reactions include (but are not limited to): Crying, unhinging your jaw and swallowing bottles of booze whole, smearing yourself with wet dog food and waiting for golden retrievers to take you away, staring at your reflection and quietly singing Adele.

In all seriousness, this is the worst stage and there are resources to manage it. If you’re feeling down and want to talk to someone, book an appointment with Psychological and Counselling Services.

7) Acceptance and Hope 

Image: tumblr.com

Normal reaction: You open your eyes. Shiver. Sit up. You’re sitting in the local dog park. The golden retrievers have brought you here. One starts to gently lick your face. Your mum is there. She is holding a box of fried chicken – it’s for you! Beyoncé is there too! She braids your hair. ‘You got this, bae,’ she says.

Everyone pushes past a fail. Failing is not the worst thing that is going to happen to you, and although it’s not the most ideal situation you’re going to push through and pass your course and on the day of your graduation Glyn Davis will shake your hand and you’ll throw your head back and laugh and say, ‘Oh Glyn. I got this.’

More advice on failing can be found here.

If you would love advice on how to plan the rest of your course after failing a subject, visit your Student Hub from Monday 7th December.

– Joey

How to write an essay

Essays. They sound good in theory, but they can be just as bad, if not worse, than exams. If you are fighting your way through 6000 odd words at the moment, here are a few tips and tricks from the Unimelb Adventures community to help you through SWOTVAC and exam period!

1. Before you start – deciding on a topic

Image: giphy.com

Look over the choices that you have been given, or brainstorm ideas that you like. Decide on one or a couple of preferred topics. It’s also useful to take a look online at potential references that you could use – are there enough sources for you to work with on your topic?

Next, make a general outline of potential arguments that you could use so that you can make sure that you will be researching the right topics and not going off on (sometimes fascinating!) tangents.

2. Research

The fastest research shortcut you can take is to find one or two articles through Discovery that relate to your topic, then find the references those articles have used. It’s not a complete replacement for research, but it will help you really flesh out your sources.


sad eating

Write down page numbers when you collect quotes. It will save you pouring through your references at 2AM and crying into your chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream you’re eating to drown your sorrows. If you forgot, try using Google Books or Google Scholar. You can usually search within text and that should get you to the page number you need.

If you have a heap of pdf articles stored in your computer, be organised. Give them useful file names, and consider sorting them into subfolders by theme or usefulness etc.

3. Planning

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Each paragraph of your essay should ask and answer a question that leads to your conclusion. So when you’re planning, try writing out those questions on post-its and then organise them into a logical flow. If, for example, you are evaluating two theories and their representation in a work of fiction, your questions might be;

  • Why is theory A good?
  • What does the author of the fictional work think of theory A?
  • Why is theory A better than theory B?
  • How do we know the author doesn’t like theory B?

It can be useful to write our your paragraph headings on a piece of paper and then write below them any useful evidence that you have found, so that you know where in your essay you want to mention it. It can also help guide how you structure your paragraph and makes sure you don’t forget any important points.

4. Writing a Draft

Image: giphy.com

You can’t fix a blank page. It would be nice to be able to write a perfect sentence without trying, but that’s just not going to happen. So write a bad one. Give yourself permission to write a really awful essay. Then you can fix it. If you get stuck and can’t think of the right word, that’s ok. Just write “something” and move on. Your essay draft might look like this;

  • “[that theorist guy] thinks that crime is [get a quote]. However, [that other dude] challenges this view in its application to [whatever]”

Download Omm Writer if you’re likely to get distracted. It provides an immersive distraction-free space for you to just write. There’s ambient sounds that help you focus, and the background shifts just a little bit every now and then – it makes sure that your screen is pleasant and interesting to look at.

5. Edit

Image: giphy.com

Delete your first sentence. It’s so tempting to write a vague and unhelpful statement as an opening sentence, so really look at what you’re opening with before you submit, because it probably sucks. Anything along the lines of “[essay topic] has long been the subject of much debate” can be cut.

Nine times out of ten, you want to get rid of your adverbs. If your point still isn’t getting across, chose a better verb, rather than relying on an adverb. Your writing will feel more active and concise. Eg;

“She moved quickly across the road”

“She rushed across the road”


crossing road
Image: reddit.com

Control+F “that”. Now get rid of it. There are very few circumstances where you actually need the word “that” It’s better for your word count, and the tone of your work if you get rid of it unless it’s really needed.

6. Tips on drafting:

Image: frecklesandfizz.blogspot.com

Print out your essay and read it backwards. You’re much more likely to pick up on your silly typos this way. Read your essay aloud taking shallow breaths. You should be able to comfortably reach the end of each sentence without needing to pause to breathe. Remember, shorter sentences are better sentences. It’s also useful to have someone read your essay to you. Focus just on the way it sounds, not what’s coming next.

Trying to fill the word count
Trying to fill the word count, Image: cannonsandcastles.wordpress.com


7. Try to fill a word count

Put a copy of your essay into google docs, even if you wrote it in word. The spell check in docs is much better than word and can help pick up on silly mistakes.

You’re finished! Go and celebrate with a block of chocolate…or one hundred…and get ready for that H1!

Image: imgur.com

Good luck with your essay writing, you literary gods!

Surviving your take home exam

Take home exams sound good in theory. But somehow around hour 40 it doesn’t seem that awesome. Preparing for take homes just plain sucks – how can you motivate yourself to read things now when you could just do it later? You need a strategy to get through. The following tips can help you be prepared and come out the other side vaguely intact.

Before the exam is released:

1. Know what the task actually is

Sounds kind of straightforward, but you should figure out as much as you can about the exam before it actually starts (don’t forget referencing requirements). If you’re being asked to perform a task you haven’t had much experience with, have a flick through old exams and practice at least parts of them. Ask your lecturer if there’s a sample answer or past responses available for you to look through. 

Image: giphy

2. Break it down

You should break down the exam into as many small parts as possible. Let’s say you have to write two essays across three days. One task might be “select essay questions,” or “write a dot point outline.” Smaller tasks are much less intimidating but also allow you to plan your time more effectively; you can allocate a certain number of tasks to the first six hours of the exam, for instance. This will help you manage stress and set a time to stop for sleep. 

3. Plan backwards

When you’re allocating your small tasks to your schedule, try starting at the end. For example, give yourself the last 20 minutes to attach a cover sheet and submit your assignment. And the 20 minutes before that for one final read through. And the hour before that for formatting and layout. While this doesn’t always work out, you don’t want to be having a meltdown and literally making up references 10 minutes before the exam is due. Not that I’ve done that, I’m just saying it could happen.

4. Preparation isn’t just about studying

    1. Food: organise all your meals ahead of time. Consider making a pot of soup the day before and stock up on snacks. You won’t produce quality work by fueling yourself with nothing but red bull and toast.
    2. Playlist: depending on the length of your exam, you might find yourself having a late night session of busy work (don’t give yourself hard things to do after 8pm – leave typing and referencing for the evening). This is when you need your motivational tunes to get you through. You are doing fine, and they are going to hear you roar, damnit!

During the exam:

1. Sleep

I know it’s tempting to work through the night, but you aren’t going to get anything decent done when you should be in bed. You’re much better off having a rest and working faster during the next day, I promise. That said, this isn’t a truly foolproof strategy because it’s so hard to sleep when you’re stressed. I recommend taking at least a 30 minute break between finishing work for the day and getting into bed. Have a hot bath, stretch, have a cup of tea – just give yourself some time to wind down. If this doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough, consider a sleeping aid if that’s something you’re comfortable with. Personally, I like valerian when stress is affecting my sleep – it’s herbal and you can find it in most supermarkets. Just make sure it’s something you’ve used before. You don’t want to find out you react poorly to anything halfway through an exam. Talk to your Doctor if you’re not sure about your options.

2. Dealing with stress

This is probably the hardest part of any take home exam. Before your exam starts, acknowledge that it’s probably going to be a pretty shitty time. Find a few things that relax you and have them ready to whip out when things get ugly. Actually follow through with this – it’s very easy to say you’ll take care of your stress before you actually start experiencing it. Download Simplemind or Headspace if you haven’t already, they are magnificent. Take 15 minutes to do some yoga. Take a break to watch some Netflix. Remember to be nice to yourself.

Image: giphy

3. Enlist a buddy

If you are like me, and like to spend stressful times dressed in a unicorn onesie, you might not want to go into uni during the exam. That’s fine. Just make sure that, at some stage, you talk to someone. If your exam is just one day, arrange to meet up with a friend for dinner afterward. If it runs for a few days, call a friend, or your parents, just to make sure you actually talk to someone other than yourself.

4. Crush it

Attitude is important. Even though I know you might want to curl up in a ball and weep, the best way to get through this time is to believe you are totally owning it. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the idea that your work isn’t that great, or that someone else is doing a better job. You’ll work much faster and much better if you let yourself believe you are doing well. You will also sleep much better at this level of self-delusion confidence.

Image: giphy

And afterwards treat yourself to some cake or something. You’ve earned it.

Image: mommyish

Good luck!

– Jacky

PS: Check out our Instagram to see Jacky tackle a take home exam this past weekend!

10 things I wish someone told first year me about SWOTVAC & the exam period…

Shannon, a UniMelb Adventures sub-editor, is a third year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Criminology and International Politics with a Diploma in French. When she’s not busy with university and work she likes to relax by getting brunch & coffee, doing some yoga and watching Law and Order SVU.


source: community.babycenter.com
source: community.babycenter.com

So, you’ve chosen a topic for your essay/take-home and you just think to yourself… “Where do I EVEN start? This dude has written a million articles and 87 books?!?!” And then you slowly start the journey of looking for anything useful to steal and turn into a relevant paragraph, but you feel like you’re never going to find ‘the answer’…
Just breathe and KEEP READING. I cannot stress this enough. Even though you feel like you’re walking through the desert with no water and with each passing minute you are dying a little more, somewhere in there, everything will start to makes sense.

2. Get your food sorted!

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

Stressful times warrant chocolate, ice cream and noodles but you do need some form of sustenance. Pre-plan your food or even just snacks so that you don’t have another thing to feel bad about. Nuts, cut up veggies to nibble on, fruit and snack bars are all great. Brain food is important!

3: All-nighters

source: twitter
source: twitter

All-nighters sometimes seem like the only option, but I assure you, your body will catch up and punish you later. Organise yourself so that you can stay up late or wake up early, but try to avoid pulling an all-nighter where you sit and watch the sun rise and wonder if you’re even human anymore. I’ve foolishly done this and each time my body shuts down & I am sick for days… #thehumanbodyalwayswins


source: pandawhale.com
source: pandawhale.com

DO what works for you. If you can only study away from home – do that. If your brain isn’t functioning until midday – all good. If you need to sit away from your bed because it is too tempting (this is me), move your study space to another room. Leave your phone somewhere it won’t distract you and perhaps even block your Facebook for a while (been there, done that). Everyone works in different ways and that’s okay.

5. “I have no time at all” is sometimes a little fib

source: memegen.com
source: memegen.com

So you have no time you say? But you did just stalk your tutor on LinkedIn and people from high school on Facebook and know who just went on holiday, what they’ve been eating and what colour they dyed their hair yesterday… Don’t trick, YOU DO have the time, so why not do something beneficial for yourself & DE-STRESS. Meditate, stretch yourself out on the floor, breathe deeply for a few minutes, go to a quick yoga class or have a nice relaxing shower. A couple minutes of zoning out can make you feel a whole lot better and ready to take on the next hours of studying! Recommendation: Download ‘1 Giant Mind’ mind from the App Store – it’s a free daily meditation app, 15 minutes is all you need and it’s definitely worth it! You are welcome.


source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

You got through year 12, didn’t you? Yes. You got accepted into Melbourne Uni? Yes. You know what hard work is… even if it is sometimes annoying? Well, yeah. When you’re loosing hope and faith real quick remember why you’re here. You’re talented and full of enormous potential, never let yourself forget that. Just keeping going and when exams are over and the biggest decision you need to make is where to go for brunch, it will feel amazing! You can do it.

7. Knowing where to go for professional help is important

source: patricekcokley.com
source: patricekcokley.com

A lot of students don’t know what is available to help when things get a little too overwhelming.
Tutors/Lecturers: Unless specified, they are still there to answer general questions (not for take-home essays though) throughout SWOTVAC and usually the exam period.
The Melbourne University Health Service: Still in operation for health checks, counselling, mental health care and the usual other stuff.
The Academic Drop-in service (Mon-Fri 12-2pm Baillieu): Still running & where you can see someone for a quick read over your paper or to ask any questions!
Library Chat (library website): Where you can ask questions from home that may save you the trip to campus.

8. Write a list of treats

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

Give yourself something to look forward to when you’ve made it out of the grips of hell. Plan to get a massage, buy yourself those new shoes you’ve been eyeing off, spend a the weekend doing your favourite things, treat to yourself to a nice dinner & movie, go out with your friends and forget everything you just learnt. You’ve earnt it!

9. Everyone is also wandering helplessly for a little while; it’s not just you…

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

You’re not ‘an idiot’ or the ‘only one not getting this’… I can guarantee EVERYONE on your Facebook feed is struggling with something. Just because they aren’t all writing Facebook statuses about it, don’t think it is only you. Don’t feel bad for not knowing what is happening, part of the reason some students end up getting down on themselves is because it is hard to accept not being in the know all of the time. Don’t start this cycle of un-healthy thinking.

10. Get some feedback from the people around you

source: memecrunch.com
source: memecrunch.com

Throughout my first year I didn’t want to burden anyone with checking my drafts because I knew everyone was busy, but then I thought well actually, how about I help you in return? So I began to ask if my friends wanted to swap essay drafts, notes or study together. A different perspective or someone picking up on a dodgy sentence can make all the difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers, we’re all just trying to get out this in one piece!

GOOD LUCK everyone & CONGRATS to all graduating! 

– Shannon

source: memegen.com
source: memegen.com