That was unexpected! I got notification yesterday that I’d been awarded a distinction on the Open University law course I did last winter: W223: Company law and practice.
The distinction was an unexpected pleasure as I thought I was only in 2:1 territory — I didn’t think I had quite the grade average necessary across the marked assignments — the Open University generally requires that your classification for a course will be the lower of your achievement in the final exam / end–of–course assignment, and of the average of your marked assignments throughout the course — though I knew I was only a percentage point or two short.
So, lessons learned from this course:
- Don’t overly concern yourself if you think you’re one or two percentage points short. Don’t use it as an excuse to drop your standards.
- Take time on end–of–course assignments. Everything you need, factually, is there. What can get you the bonus marks is a matter of looking a little further — research the current state of the law and academic comment about the questions at hand. Incorporate these into your answer, and cite every assertion you make.
- Make sure your bibliography and references are full and accurate: include every paper you read and found to be relevant, even if you didn’t use it. You never know when something has unconsciously slipped through.
- And finally, again, take time. Whilst making sure you can submit on time, use the last day for a re-read. Out loud. It’s amazing how many little grammatical slips you can find that way.
I enjoyed this course, and didn’t find it a slog at any point. But have to admit I’m very happy with the result.
I have just found this and though it worth a mention and link: Cleveret’s Open University Degree Class Calculator. It seems to do all the hard work correctly, including calculating the quality assurance scores.
Very useful if you want to work out what grades you need — therefore also what averages you’ll need to achieve in your course work over the course of the year. Accurately knowing the target you need to hit is pretty much essential, I think.
I’m back on the marked assignments again — I’m around a week ahead of schedule, which is good. Like the last one, this one too is one of tight word–counts: 800 for each of two questions.
I have written 932 words for one of the questions, and I am around 250 from finishing. I’m also finding it the easiest question I’ve attempted in ages.
Normally, when answering assignment questions, I spend more time worrying about the structure and the editing than getting the content down on paper. Working out what I need to say from what I want to say is a process that can drive me into paralysis. This time, I’m just not caring. Separating the writing phase and the editing phase turns out to allow me to write the answer I want to, then edit it into the answer that’s actually needed for submission to my tutor.
This isn’t a technique that will necessarily work well in exam conditions, however the technique of writing an answer plan first is similar, if in reverse. But I am going to continue to use it for the rest of my assignments, to see if it is a method to get around the paralysis I often feel when writing — what my friend Simon Pride described as my “inner censor”. I hope it does.
The process of trying to capture what I’m learning is a process that is still under a degree of trial and error, here. When I was at school and last studying at university level, it just kind of went in. I didn’t care about the process. Now, a few Open University courses later of varying difficulty, I find that I need to pay some attention to the techniques of studying, in order to find ones that suit me best. Continue reading “How I now take notes while studying”