Cramming is inefficient but sometimes continuous studying is not gonna happen. There’s no denying it, Imperial like any other research-intensive university requires the utmost diligence to time management, you have coursework, social club activities for downtime which means you need to learn how to prioritise your independent studying – which is the most important part of your course, often worth at least 50% of your degree if not more (for Life Sciences it is 75%). In a way, it’s great because it gives you more time to prep and to give your all after the holidays but because of how vibrant life is at Imperial it also means you don’t have time to study! Even I wonder sometimes how the majority of us graduate with an excellent grade.
However, unlike school that often has normalised exam marks (at least through the UK system of UCAS, and I know in Asia for internal exams they often rank you against your classmates), everyone can graduate with a first. Of course, it will feel competitive, but you are not competing against your coursemates, especially in research. You don’t see single Nobel Prize winners- the awardees succeed because they collaborated. Which brings me onto my first tip:
- Find a friend to study with and motivate each other. I used to have insecurity around one of my besties because of how smart they are. You can still admire them without hiding who you are in front of your friends. If they are truly intelligent they know not to judge people by something like grades. Friends are there to help, not judge you. Good grades are important and you should always strive to get them not for someone else but for yourself to feel good. Bad grades don’t mean anything about you if you’ve done your best – like you shouldn’t put off responsibility but sometimes it could just be a topic that you’re not as interested in as you thought were. If you suspect even a teeny bit that it could be conditions like mental health or dyslexia mitigating circumstances can definitely be arranged by speaking to your department. They are super willing to help if you tell them about it.
- Give your 100% concentration when studying. There’s no point in studying for long periods if you’re not actively studying.
- Do something that doesn’t completely distract you during your breaks eg. a short motivational song, 5-minute workout routine, not Stranger Things – you’d pause but keep thinking about it when you’re meant to be concentrating on differential equations or memorising enzyme mechanisms.
- Pretty study blogs on Instagram and Tumblr are a great inspiration for trying out different note formats and see what works best for you. If you need an immediate push to study there are study servers on Discord.
- Play an instrument/learn a new language. Not only as downtime activities but research shows that they make people smarter!
The most important thing
Believe in yourself and don’t doubt your hard work, some of it will rely on luck but the right kind of hard work always pays off. Having high self-confidence will boost your mental health – not only does it help you succeed but also confidence is attractive!
I hope UCAS application outcomes are going well for prospective students considering Imperial, and for those of us at Imperial best of luck with upcoming January exams.