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Two students chatting in study area at Burwood Campus

8 August 2022

Deakin’s peer mentors share their top tried-and-tested tips for assignment success

Have you ever received support from a peer mentor at Deakin? If so, you’ll understand how valuable another student’s perspective can be when navigating uni life.

That’s why Deakin has a range of specialised peer mentors available to help you understand your subjects, find solutions for your queries, and help improve your academic skills.

Now that we’re well and truly in the middle of T2, you’ll no doubt be planning your upcoming assignments and maybe even thinking ahead to exam revision. We’ve got you covered! Here we review the best advice we’ve received from our peer mentors about how you might improve your assessments, based on frequent questions they’ve received and their own experience as students.

Start early

Don’t tie yourself up in knots wondering how you should tackle a new assignment – commit to getting stuck in as soon as possible.
‘Just start,’ says experienced peer mentor and Criminology Honours student Amie Morgan. ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s a messy mind map, or some dot points, whatever! Just get something on paper. Getting going is the biggest hurdle.’
Pavani Trikha, a Bachelor of Health and Medical Science (Honours) student and one of Deakin’s Writing Mentors, agrees. ‘Academic writing takes time and multiple revisions, therefore give yourself some time to understand and build up your work from there.’
This is especially important if you have a particular assignment, or quiz or exam, that is making you feel nervous. By allowing yourself maximum time, you’ll reduce your stress and be able to fully utilise Deakin’s Study Support services and resources. And if you are a procrastinator? Read our tips on overcoming this pesky habit!

Pay attention to what you’re being asked to do

Always check assignment instructions carefully to ensure your work is addressing the prescribed criteria and is supported by relevant sources of evidence. This tip alone will help ensure you gain every possible mark you can. 
‘Don’t overthink it. Students get tripped up on simple assignments because they overthink it,’ Amie says. ‘There are no tricks – the instructions and rubrics are available to show you exactly what you need to do. So take a breath, read it and just do what it asks.’
When it comes to quiz and exam preparation, attend all your classes and seminars to gain a sense of what topics and concepts your teachers consider particularly important – anything that is repeated or emphasised is likely examinable. And, at every opportunity, test your understanding by taking any practice quizzes you are supplied in your unit sites.

Focus on the basics

What should students concentrate on to do well in assignments? Amie is unequivocal: ‘Referencing and academic writing. I cannot stress that enough. The Deakin guide to referencing is a fantastic resource but so many students still don’t use it and get continually pulled up on their poor referencing style.’ 
Maths Mentor Caitlin Waterford shares a similar view when it comes to getting the foundations right: ‘Go back to basics. Spend time mastering the basic skills of mathematics so you can apply these to more difficult problems.’ 
In addition to acquainting yourself with the Deakin guide to referencing, check out the Academic skills guides to really polish your assignments.

Take it easy (sometimes)

To stay happy and well as you work through assessments, you need to factor downtime and activities you enjoy into your study timetable – but it all comes down to striking the right balance.

‘I don’t just schedule classes and study hours; I also schedule leisure hours,’ says Amie. ‘This makes sure you don’t forget to take a moment to relax, and that you don’t spend too much time relaxing. If you don’t take breaks then you’re more likely to lose focus and end up losing time daydreaming, or just needing to stop and not being able to get back into it.’

Are you finding it tough to juggle your study with other responsibilities? Take a look at our handy assignment plannerstudy workload planners and tips for organising your studies which can help you map out a realistic and sustainable routine.

Believe in yourself – and reach out for help

‘I think that maths is a subject that is commonly viewed by students in a negative light due to previous experiences or the mindset that ‘‘they aren’t good at it’’,’ says Caitlin.
‘Many students come to the Maths Mentors with the capability to work through the problem or topic that they are stuck on but are just lacking the confidence to express their ideas.’
Could you use a little more guidance with your assignments or quiz and exam preparation? Head to the Maths Resource Centre webpage for help with your maths practice, or check out the various Academic skills guides and other Study Support resources for targeted advice. Our Writing and Maths Mentors are also available during various drop-in times throughout the trimester.
We also encourage you to access the many free health and wellbeing services available to you at any time. Your wellbeing matters, and we’re here to help.

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