School

How To Do Well On English Exams

Here’s how to do well on English exams from someone who learned the hard way.

Be specific.

Avoid making grand sweeping generalizations about all of humanity since the beginning of time. Narrow your scope and focus on the topic. Look at how the little details paint a bigger picture.

Be careful.

Read the questions carefully. Make sure you actually answer the prompt. Reread your own work. Sometimes your hand writes the opposite of what your head wants.

Be concise.

Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point. Make a clear argument. Support your thesis with evidence. Be clear. Don’t be confusing or convoluted. If you can’t comprehend what you’re saying, how will anyone else?

Be yourself.

It is not the time to try to write like someone else. You have your own voice. You’ve been developing it for years. Give yourself some credit. You’re better than you believe, so prove that.

Be forgiving.

Your word choice won’t be flawless. Your sentence structure won’t be impeccable. That’s not the point. This exam is in a test of your ability to write perfectly.

Best of luck!

School

When You Feel Like You Aren’t Smart Enough

Every so often, I feel like I’m not smart enough. Imposter syndrome hits me so hard.

In my first year at university, I expected to be average. I anticipated feeling stupid because I thought everyone would be smarter.

Now in fourth year, I can’t help but think everything will be over my head, beyond my capabilities. I tend to underestimate myself. That’s just who I am.

Even though I worry, I try to channel my anxieties into productivity. Easier said than done, I know.

I don’t know what this semester or the next one will bring, but present me wants future me to remember that I’m smarter than I think.

Don’t worry about what other people are doing or what they aren’t doing.

I have good ideas. Stop shooting all of them down.

As of now, I’m happy with my courses. I’m excited to finish strong.

I’m not a fraud or an imposter. I’m just a student doing my best. I want to improve. I need to learn and grow.

I’ll try to take risks and not regret anything, rather than playing it safe only to wonder what if.

I’ve done well in years past, so there’s no reason why I can’t succeed again.

School

Using Feedback From Professors And Teachers

So I finally brought myself to check some of the feedback I’ve gotten on my papers. I’m trying to incorporate my professors’ comments for the final essays.

It’s great when I’m on the same page as your professor. Makes my life that much easier. And a little validation doesn’t hurt either.

At least, I’m somewhat on the right track.

I don’t love my grades. Shocking, I know.

Now if only I can ace everything else.

Even though I don’t always agree with my professors, I try to see where they’re coming from. Besides, I have no patience, so I’d make a horrible teacher.

But I certainly have my personal preferences when it comes to writing. Subjectivity will be the death of me.

I ought to keep a record of the feedback professors give me. I’m sure I get similar comments all the time.

Because I’m stubborn, I tend to do what I want, regardless of whether a teacher loves my idea or not. I’d rather work on something I’m passionate about than please the person grading my work.

I try to find my own angle, put my own spin on things. When I stumble upon a diamond in the rough, I work hard on refining the idea until it shines.

I’m a little worried at how many words I have to write and edit in the next month. But I’m a writer. What’s several thousand words in 2 weeks when I’ve written 50,000 in a month?

My problem isn’t so much the mechanical or technical aspects of writing but rather the ideas and arguments. Why? I don’t always follow instructions. So I’m a rebel.

If I elect not to pursue further education after undergrad, I may never receive feedback from a teacher or professor again once I’m done. I think that’s one thing I won’t miss.

School · Writing

The Life Of A Student Writer

Being a student and a writer isn’t easy. When I’m not studying, I’m writing. Of course, I have to write a lot for university as well.

I continue to wonder how I’ll manage to balance both identities. Some days, I have no idea how I do everything I want to.

I can’t give up writing. I don’t think I ever will. If worse comes to worse, I may not write as much as I’d like. But a little is better than nothing at all.

I already know the next couple of months won’t be a breeze, but I’ve been in school for most of my life. I have also been creating for a long time. So I like to believe I’ll be fine.

Besides, some of my happiest memories come from telling stories.

Problem being there aren’t enough hours in the day. Why can’t we have twenty-five instead of twenty-four?

As of late, I’ve been thinking m about my writing career. My non-existent writing career. I stand corrected. My mind loves to worry about my life after graduation. Isn’t the unknown great?

Rest assured I’m not going anywhere. I won’t be making drastic changes anytime soon. But I will continue to progress day by day.

Right now it’s enough that I enjoy my writing sessions. I want to experiment more. I need to venture outside of my comfort zone.

As for school, I’ll do the best I can in my classes. I just have to time manage well.

I have plans I hope to execute in 2018. Of course, I’ll keep you posted if and when I publish or republish anything exciting.

A long time ago, I made the conscious choice to start writing. I’m not going back or giving up now.

School

Am I Happy With My University Grades?

I’m not sure what overcame me a while ago, but I decided to check all of my grades at once. I needed to rip off the band-aid. It wasn’t satisfying.

They aren’t bad. They aren’t amazing.

I feel like I have room for improvement though, and I intend to improve. Easier said than done however.

To be quite honest, I’m happy. I maintained good habits. I looked after my physical, mental, and emotional health. I also lived my life, did the things I loved.

I’d even go so far as to say all things considered, this past semester is my favourite one thus far.

I worked hard and smart.

Even though my grades aren’t as good as they have been in the past, it’s not the end of the world. There are more important things to me than my GPA.

I’m a month into 2018, and a part of me already misses last year.

I still can’t believe it’s over. I had a fun ride. I’ve learned a lot.

I’m glad I can look back on 2017 with a smile on my face. There’s a ton to be grateful for.

Now that I’ve had some time to digest my grades, I realize I’m fine with them. Obviously, I wish they were higher, but I can live with my GPA. At least, I can’t complain.

I’m ready to see how the rest of 2018 pans out.

May this year bring joy and cheer. May you learn and laugh, live and love. May you be happy and healthy.

Writing

How To Write Under Time Pressure

Writing is hard enough as it is without the added pressure of having a limited amount of time.

Budgeting time takes on a greater significance when you only have a few hours to write too many essays.

I’ve extracted tips from my tired brain about writing under pressure:

  • Write fast but not too fast. This goes for both handwriting and typing.
  • Production not perfection. Don’t strive to be perfect. Do strive to be done.
  • Be concise, clear. Try to know what you’re writing about to avoid beating around the bush.
  • Prepare accordingly. There’s nothing like a simulation of the real thing. Studying and reviewing is good. Replicating the test conditions as closely as possible is great.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. Like the protagonist in many YA novels, let out that breath you didn’t know you were holding.
  • Try not to overthink. Most teachers aren’t trying to trick you.
  • Just write something. Part marks are better than no marks at all. Get an idea down. It may lead to other ideas.
  • Make connections. Concepts often interconnect. Draw out similarities and differences. Compare or contrast. Brainstorm with a mind map. Outline in a way that work for you.
  • Write until you have nothing else to say. Stick with what you know when possible. Talking about what you don’t know makes your life harder.
  • Use the time given. There’s no reason to stop writing thirty minutes into a three hour exam.
  • Take care of any business beforehand. That way, you’re in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
  • Eat and drink beforehand. A hydrated body beats a hungry one.
  • Move on. Especially when you’re stumped. Tackle the next question. You can always come back to a problem later.
  • Play to your strengths. Downplay your weaknesses.
  • Answer what’s asked. Ideally, you do this right off the bat.

If nothing else, remember writing under time pressure is a skill you can cultivate.

Writing

The Life Of A Writer


The writing life is a unique one to say the least.

Being a writer teaches you how to be patient. Especially when all your characters take one look at your outline, laugh, and do the exact opposite. I don’t outline for this reason. I’ve been burned many times.

Eventually, you lower your expectations until you no longer have any. Can’t be disappointed if you don’t set yourself up to be, am I right? Besides, the best moments are the ones you never see coming.

What do you mean you’re publishing my story? That’s impossible! You must be mistaken.

You learn to reject rejection.

You rejected me? No way! That’s your loss, not mine.

This post is already trending in the direction of a certain bad writer being in full denial.

Over time, you hone your stalking, er, observing skills. Stalking isn’t ok. But observing people is a fine skill to have in your arsenal. It’s better than watching paint dry.

Obviously, you constantly deal with things not going your way because life never goes the way you expect it to. What’s more, other human beings do a great job messing up your well-laid plans. Yes, fictional characters are people too.

There’s a beauty in being a teacher and student at the same time. After all, you become an expert at whatever you’re writing about. Hello, Google.

Sooner rather than later, you’ll get ink stains on everything. I literally mean everything. Your fingers and hands. Your legs and toes. Your wallet and bag. Your desk and bed. But you embrace them because what kind of writer doesn’t have ink on some body part at any given time?

This universe bestows upon many greats the secrets to handling hand cramps. In fact, you might even strengthen your hands so much you never feel pain ever again. When’s the last time you had a hand cramp? Surely cramps are a sign of someone who doesn’t write often.

Can you tell I was in some kind of mood while penning this post? I’m half joking. Please don’t flay me alive.

School

Why I Love And Dislike Going Back To School

Hate is a strong word. I love and dislike going back to school for different reasons.

I enjoy learning. I want to learn for the rest of my life. I hope to remain a student even after I graduate school.

Here’s some baseball for you. People often describe ball players as students of the game.

Well, I want to be a student of the craft that is writing and blogging. Creating good content.

There will always be things I don’t know. Stuff I want to learn. And to be fair, school has taught me a ton. Not just facts and dates. But soft skills that are tough to quantify. Life lessons I needed to experience first-hand.

Without the classroom setting, I’m not sure I’d be able to hold a conversation with anyone not in my immediate family.

So I’m excited to learn. I miss being a typical, traditional student. But I don’t miss the stress and anxiety.

I used to dread the moments in the morning between getting ready and going to school.

I felt awful. My heart beat faster than if I had sprinted a marathon. (I’m aware you don’t sprint an entire marathon. I said this more for effect. But if I have to clarify than I guess I didn’t do that great of a job, did I?)

Being late still gives me nightmares. Talking to people, especially strangers is difficult even now. So you can imagine how much worse it was for younger me.

My imagination is wonderful when I’m writing. Not so much when I’m living.

I would play out various scenarios in my mind, some much worse than others. So I tended to believe bad things would happen. Like I’d be late and miss my exam. Or I would participate but say the wrong answer. Come to think of it, what’s the worst that can really happen, right?

At least this year I’m more excited than nervous. I can’t say the same for previous years.

I wish everyone going back to school the best. Send me your success stories. Of course, I’ll share many of my horror stories on this blog, so stick around. Stay for all the humiliation of Herminia to come.