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How Not To Waste Your Reading Week

A week free to study and no idea where to start or how to spend it? Read this article!

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To introduce myself, my name is Hashmat Arshad, a Computer Science undergraduate, in my penultimate year at university - currently undertaking my placement at Aston Students’ Union as the Web Developer. I also previously studied at Cardiff University taking architecture, until the end of the first year. So yeah, I have experienced YEARS of university life, I spent each carefully learning and understanding the deep mechanisms of how to live life whilst at university. Today, I share this wisdom with my fellow Aston students.


It’s that time of the year where you don’t really know how to feel, or what to spend all your time on. If you’re a first year, it’s safe to say going out may have started to become a lifestyle for you. Whilst it can be fun to spend time with your friends and go out getting up to 18+ activities, Reading Week offers the chance to get yourself prepared for the upcoming exam season in January. It’s important to use this time wisely, maybe finally getting around to going over those learning materials rotting in the back of your rucksack.


It’s very easy to get caught up in all the fun and excitement that you gradually start to lose control of your workload, telling yourself “I’ll just do it tomorrow” until you run out of tomorrows’ – procrastination at its finest. First year is not one to be taken lightly, it sets you up for each following year and pretty much ascertains how well you are likely to do in your second year.


It is important to always keep your ambitions high, and your work ethic should match. Don’t aim for the bare minimum, by keeping your expectations high, you can always keep working towards your goal. There is always room for improvement and space to polish your skills/knowledge even more!


Aiming for the minimum, while it can feel easier at first, in the long term, it will likely limit your potential... Remember, University is about managing your priorities and giving importance to your work. The difference between first year and second/final year is HUGE, and certainly should not be taken lightly… BUT there is ALWAYS time to do better, and effort is what matters most, so if you’ve been that laidback fresher constantly partying this year – don’t worry you still have plenty of time to catch up, and what better opportunity than Reading Week?? Contact your module leaders for support on anything you don’t understand or any extra support, it’s what they’re there for!



Try finding solutions, rather than making excuses for why you can’t do something. Your Reading Week doesn’t have to consist of being shut in bored with a stack of textbooks, there’s plenty of ways to still enjoy yourself. For example, students have found organising study groups with friends/coursemates to be useful. This way, you can still hang out with your friends but everyone can help each other stay on track!


I have outlined 6 Top Tips to help keep you on the right track:


Top 6 Tips:

  • Use a planner to help plan each day out and dedicate timeslots for revision, and plan timeslots for your free time. This way you can Netflix and chill without feeling guilty! If you wish to use a planner, you’re in luck! We know how helpful it can be and made one for your use. Our term planners are available here, and daily planners here, if you would like to make use of a planner.


  • Relax. It’s your week off, you deserve to take this time to revitalise yourself, ready for the workload when the week ends. Calm down and rid that stress in a way that works for you. Find your best method for studying and ease into it, with a whole week off, you have a lot of time that you will likely find yourself lacking in the future, use it wisely!


  • The student life is hectic and the routines are irregular at best. We’re all guilty of pulling those all-nighters trying to catch up last minute, but maybe we didn’t even need all night?? A wise man once said “the early bird gets the worm”, and it may or may not be true, but it’s commonly found that waking up earlier, increases productivity.


  • Couldn’t hurt to try, but no one is the same. Some of us genuinely can be productive into the nights, if this is you, build a schedule and plan your time around it. As long as you plan how you’re going to spend your time, you will be okay!


  • Change your scenery. It can get repetitive and pretty monotonous always sitting inside, try going outside and studying elsewhere, this can definitely help increase your efficiency and productivity. Who says studying can’t be an adventure?? It also just so happens, we have a perfect list of study hotspots around Birmingham ready for you! Click here to find our reel showcasing this.


  • Have some reflection time. Think about the start of this academic year, over the last few months, how much have you achieved? How much more do you want to achieve? What worked for you this term and what didn’t work for you? These are the important questions you need to ask yourself in order to know what you can improve and what more you still need to do.


Have any tips yourself you'd like to share? Let me and everyone else know down below!


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