How I Get a Head Start

About two weeks ago, the results were released. Champagnes were popped, for those who were happy with what they achieved. Hairs were yanked from heads, for those who did not do well and wished they had put in more effort.

I am straddling the two. My feeling for my results, is something I still could not fathom at this moment. I would say that I did well enough to secure good passes, but not well enough to score distinctions. It gave a strange feeling that is worse than the lousy feeling I would feel, if I had failed the exams. I am aware that this daze, this inability to feel neither jubilant nor disappointed, could be potentially dangerous. Because gradually, from a state of daze I would soon be transformed into a languid mood. Needless to say, this would lead to my study plans for the new school term, being utterly jeopardised.

I need to raise myself from this bizarre stupor, before it gets me too crippled to get down to serious work. I need to spur myself into action.

My inspiration to work usually comes when I have an organised plan in hand. A cliché it might be, but the saying of “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, always rings true to me.

1) Before all others could fall into place, the first thing is to get my study guides ready. Study guides help me in giving a panorama view of what the ground foundation should be before everything else – what knowledge I should expect myself to gain in the course of studying, and the plausible study strategies I could embark on.

What I find particularly helpful is to take a good look at the sample 22-week study syllabus given in every study guide for the BA English. The authors and texts mentioned in the suggested syllabus might not be exactly the same as mine. It, however, gives me a yardstick, as to how I should be progressing from time to time.

2) The next things to gather are of equal importance as the study guides – authors, texts and topics. There is always this tendency in me, to shortlist texts, which I have read before. I have learned that while this could be a good strategy, I should not disregard other potential authors and texts, which sometimes have a better fit in the topics I am studying for.

For instance, while researching on eco-criticism in Romantic poetry, I came to realise that William Wordsworth’s poems could aid me in building a stronger argument compared to Samuel Coleridge’s (whose poems I have already gained a fair amount of understanding from Explorations in Literature in the first year). Although a little apprehensive at first in switching the intended author for the topic, I was eventually convinced by the exhaustive materials discovered for Wordsworth’s poems.

3) Allocate specific days and time for studying. I have decided that Tuesdays and Saturdays are meant for my books, and come what may, I tell myself to stick to that.

4) The last thing is what I enjoy the most – take delight in reading the texts. As students of BA English, I believe it is the love of reading literature that has drawn us to this degree course. So, why not indulge in it?

Right now, I am reading Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. I read it when I am travelling between work and home, while waiting at the clinic for the vet to see my dog, before bedtime, etc. This means I read when I need to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of my daily responsibilities. I get to unwind, and at the same time, I get to be familiarised with the texts I am studying for. What could be more brilliant than this?

Tiffany is studying the BA English by distance learning in Singapore.

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