5 tips to help you survive your final exams

Semester two has gone so fast and we’re fast approaching the exam season. So here are my 5 quick tips to help you survive the exam season!

World Quiz

  1. Be on time! It’s always a good idea get to an exam a little earlier than planned as you never know if there’s a lot of traffic on the day. It also gives you plenty of time to find your seat number and get prepared rather than rushing-in last minute.


  1. Make sure you have planned ahead and know exactly where your exam is taking place. It’s always a good idea to go see the exam location if you don’t know where it is, well before your exam.


  1. Remember to take everything you need into the exam! That also includes your library card! I always tend to keep my card in a clear pencil case with all the equipment I need for my exams, so I have everything I need in one place. It’s a good idea to get your things ready the day before so you aren’t rushing on the day of your exam.


  1. Look over the questions carefully and highlight the key words. This sounds like something from school, but I often find it helps me when I answer essays as I know exactly what I need to answer. Also, in the stress of an exam we can easily overlook key words in the question.


  1. Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water is important for your brain to work and it keeps you refreshed and calm during exams.


So here they are my 5 tips for the exam season! Good luck!

Got any more tips? Leave a comment!

Tasnim x


Communicating with academics

When I first started University, my idea of communicating with academics was very different from what it is now. Initially, I thought academics didn’t want to talk much with students outside of lectures and so I prepared myself for never having to meet my tutors or lecturers.  Well… I was definitely wrong. Communication is key, and while it does sometimes seem a little weird or scary to begin with, you have to make sure you develop a relationship with your academic as these are the people you go to for resources, advice and recommendations. So don’t be afraid, I’m here to give you a few tips on communicating with academics as well as my experiences to help you along the way!

After lectures

Take advantage of the time after lectures when academics are available to answer questions or clarify the content.  This is a good time to ask more general questions rather than in depth advice on your essay outline. Save the more specific questions for another occasion, such as…

Office hours

Office hours are times that academics dedicate for students to drop in and ask questions on a weekly basis. Personally, this is the type of communication I found most helpful. You can discuss the content of the course and clarify any problems you have. It’s easier to communicate with academics at this time as you’re not in a rush and there are no disruptions.

If you do visit an office hour, have your questions ready before hand and bring any lecture notes to clarify any confusion. If you can’t make the office hours, academics try to arrange a time suitable for you. If you want to arrange a separate meeting at another time, be sure to drop an email beforehand.

Tutorials & Seminars

Tutorials and seminars are classes where you communicate with academics regarding course content in a group setting. It is also the time you’ll work through tutorial/seminar sheets to supplement course learning. This is one of the most ideal places to communicate with academics on course content and bring up any issues you have. You can also discuss and bounce off ideas with your course mates, which might answer questions you had for your lecturer in the first place.   So if you do find things confusing or have questions, ask them during these sessions!

If you can’t make a face-to-face meeting, here are some ways to communicate with academics:

Discussion boards

On the Blackboard page for each of your course units, there is a discussion board where you can communicate with academics. This is a great way to get your questions answered or clarify things you find confusing.. You can also do this anonymously if you would like to do so.

Discussion boards are useful and can help you and others to receive answers to some of the more commonly asked questions. If you are finding something difficult, it’s likely someone else is a well.

Small note: Just like seminars and tutorials, discussion boards are more course unit orientated.


This is something I tend to use regularly when communicating with academics. I’d advise you to email your questions and problems with more details, so the academics can help you out easily.

I found that emails either get answered the same day or the next day if they are sent around late afternoon/evening (this excludes weekends!). Emails are also ideal to use during semester breaks, as it is often the only way you can communicate with academics.


So there it is; my tips on how to communicate with academics! Please remember,  if you do have questions or need any kind of academic help, go to your academics!

Got any questions? Or any tips? Please leave a comment!

Tasnim x

Top 5 coffee shops & tea houses

Caffeine is many students’ antidote to mid-term assignments, late night studying and dissertation writing. And while coffee plays a big role in work efficiency, so does the space that you study in. So why not combine the two?

Manchester has a great number of independent coffee shops and tea houses, which provide the perfect environment to study in. Here are the top 5 coffee shops and tea houses for you to check out.

  1. Ziferblatzifeblat

A unique spot where you pay for the time you spend there and you can have all the tea, coffee and cakes you can eat! The café aims to provide a relaxing and motivating space for customers. There are areas for group study sessions or smaller tables if you want to study on your own. I find that it’s a great place to concentrate and study.  I find it a great place to manage my time and not procrastinate.

23 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW

  1. Earth Café

A great place for vegans and vegetarians! Earth café serves 100% vegan and gluten free food, the only dairy is in hot drinks as an alternative to soya. They also serve freshly made veggie meals every day, if you want to grab a bite too. I usually go for a juice or smoothie with a piece of chocolate cake.

16-20 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ

  1. Nexus art café@NexusArtCafe

Nexus art café is a creative community space which promotes emerging creative artists. It is a calm and homely café, which is great when you need somewhere comfortable to write those essays! An exclusively alcohol free venue; the menu includes drinks, sandwiches and soup of the day, there’s something for everyone to pick from when you need refuelling. The café also regularly holds gigs and exhibitions, so do visit of that interests you!

2 Dale St, Manchester M1 1JW

  1. The Anchor Coffee Housepic4

Just a 10 minute walk from the University! The Anchor coffee house is a great space to focus in and grab something from their range of coffees, bagels and snacks at the same time. Registered as a charity, money earned by the coffee house goes towards a greater cause, so when you grab a drink you’re doing your bit for the community too!

508 Moss Ln E, Manchester M14 4PA

  1. Fig + Sparrowpic5

Half coffee shop, half lifestyle store; Fig + Sparrow serve a range of teas and coffees, with a small breakfast, lunch and cake menu. A perfect little stress-free place, where the staff are incredibly welcoming. I find it a great place to relax and study at the same time. It’s also a great place to have group study sessions. They also have a store, which you can check out when you visit the café!

20 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JA

So, there you have it, my top 5 independent coffee shops and teahouses! All of the places listed are just a bus ride away from the University and are easy to find as well. Go check out the spaces and grab a hot drink, a snack and a book! Where’s your favourite spot? Got any suggestions? Please leave a comment!

Tasnim x

Differences between A-levels and university learning styles you need to know about


By: Tasnim Chowdhury

My first ever lecture, I got there early, got out my notepad, pens and highlighters, ready to begin this new journey. But there was a teeny tiny problem; I had no idea what to do, what to write or how a lecture was even taught…

University can differ a lot to A-levels, and rather than leaving you in the dark, I’m here to tell you how the two differ based and tell you all about my experiences



Going from an A-level class of 15 students to a lecture theatre with nearly 250 students was a big change for me. In short, lectures are weekly classes where an academic teaches you the basics of a topic, which often they specialise in.

How you focus and take in information in lectures really dependent on the person. For me, writing up notes during lectures helps me understand what I’m being taught, for others it’s printing out lecture hand-outs or using a laptop to type up notes instead.

Something I’d advise is not to write or type up everything from the slides. You won’t have enough time and you might miss something important said by the lecturer which isn’t on the slide. Making brief notes is easier and saves time, anything you miss; you can catch up on from lecture slides.

What I’ve learnt from all my lectures is that each academic teaches in different ways. I found that some use hand-outs or booklets, others use lecture slides, some not at all , so in the first lectures you can plan out how to take in the info. There is never one ‘ideal’ way of learning, for me though, the most useful are lecture hand-outs and note taking.

Tutorials and Seminars


Tutorials and Seminars are essentially the same thing. These sessions are a lot more
similar to A-Level classes. Groups are made up of 10 to 15 students with a seminar/tutorial leader, who is either an academic or a PhD student who specialises in the unit you’re studying. These weekly or fortnightly sessions dig into the topic you studied in your previous lecture. Here is where you will ask questions, discuss in groups, practice exam questions and get your feedback. In my tutorials, we usually work through worksheets which are relevant to the lectures and often are in the style of exam questions.

Again, like how every lecture differs; seminars and tutorial sessions also differ. For some, we work through sheets, we go over the lecture readings, planning essays or learning to use features for exams or essays.

My advice is to prepare for your sessions and have questions ready. This is the time where you can clarify on your readings or anything you find confusing. It’s easier to get a clear answer and ask for any examples to help consolidate understanding.

Group work


Being assessed in your learning differs by each course unit. Sometimes you’re assessed on individual work but often its group projects. Group sizes range from pairs to 4 people, you work together to produce a piece of work which you submit together.

Working in groups is a great way to develop collaborative skills, leadership and communication. It’s also a great way to meet people in your course.

For me, in A-levels I never really had to do a group project or a presentation and when I did I worked with my friends. So this was a whole different experience, which isn’t too bad when you share the workload, communicate with your group and regularly meet up to see how you have progressed.


Each week, you’ll be assigned Pic4readings to supplement your learning in lectures. These could be chapters in textbooks, articles or journals.  Again, this was a massive difference compared to A-levels where the only reading I had to do was for English Literature. This was pretty daunting at first, but the readings weren’t so bad and did help my learning.

I recommend doing the reading bit by bit, so you don’t overwhelm yourself, anything you find important or helpful, make a note of it.

A really useful thing that the University offers is online textbooks. It’s a great way to save money and makes your readings accessible. The University library also has a high demands section, where you can take out a book for 24 hours.

So there it is, my take on the different learning styles at university and A-levels! I hope I haven’t bogged you down with too much info. Starting university can be scary but it’s also a massive part of your life and it can go by pretty quickly, so make the most of it!

Got any questions? Or if you’re a student, got any tips? Please leave a comment!

Tasnim x