How to be a Successful Student

The student experience is not just about our ability to teach you; it is also about developing your ability to learn. You must take responsibility for your own personal development.

Learning at University is a very different experience to learning at School, so here are a few top tips to becoming a successful student:

  • Self-Assessment. The best way to do this is to start with an honest assessment of your personal study skills: how well do you concentrate; how are your note-taking skills; how well do you manage your time? Your personal tutor can help with this assessment as part of your Personal Development Planning. Self-motivation is vital at university as you will no longer have parents nagging you to do your work. Leaving work until the last minute will result in a lot of stress and may yield a poor result if rushed.


  • Attend lectures. Even though copies of lecture notes and slides are often provided online via Blackboard, reading these won't be the same as having been in the lecture. Often lecturers will include extra examples, include emphasis on certain areas of study or refer to specific pages in your textbooks, all of which may not be included in the hand-outs. You will attend a lot of lectures during the course of your studies and come across many lecturing styles. You will enjoy some of these more than others, but don't let an individual style put you off. In addition making notes in a distraction free environment such as a lecture hall will help you to understand difficult topics. Some lectures will also be podcast over Blackboard allowing you to catch up if you miss a lecture.


  • Take notes. At some lectures you will be provided with extensive notes, copies of all the slides or equivalent and a lot of on-line material.  Other lectures provide much less.  It all depends on the way the particular lecturer teaches, and on the topic. Even the most extensive and comprehensive set of PowerPoint slides and/or lecture notes won’t be sufficient. You need to learn to write things down in a way that you will understand, especially when it comes to revision for exams.


  • Ask questions. If you ever have questions about anything you don’t understand it’s easy to approach any member of staff to get help. If you don't feel like putting your hand up in a large class then you can always catch the lecturer at the end. Make use of workshops and tutorials which are specifically designed to help you deepen your understanding of the subject and give you the opportunity to ask more questions. In semester 2 you will have separate tutors for each area of chemistry, allowing you to get specific and specialised help.


  • Use your text book. You will be provided with a free text book to assist you during semester one. This represents a significant investment on the part of the School so please use it, and learn how to use it effectively. Most large textbooks are best used as a ‘reference’, for preparing for specific lectures by reading ahead, for finding other examples, as a source of questions for practice and revision, and for help in answering tutorial problems. The library has a very good selection of other text books but as term goes on the remaining number of these books that can be removed from the library quickly reduce.


  • Attend tutorials. Your tutor is a valuable resource who can provide feedback on your progress and help you to understand the new aspects of Chemistry you will come across. Your personal tutor is also there to help you with any questions you may have about your course, Manchester or life in general! Your personal tutor will be the person most likely to provide you with a reference at the end of your studies, so the better they know you the more detailed reference they will be able to provide. Tutorials are compulsory and incredibly important for improving your knowledge.


  • Submit work. In some weeks you will be given problems to work through in advance of tutorials. Work through these and submit your work on time. Be organised in knowing when deadlines are coming up and be realistic about how much time you need to plan, write up and submit work to a decent standard. Usually your tutorial work sheets will need to be handed in the Friday before your tutorial at 1pm.


  • Get organised. Take responsibility for your studies; write down deadlines, important datesexam dates, times and venues for all your classes. Turn up on time and be ready to learn. We will always aim to provide you with clear instructions but won't always chase you up in the same way as at school or college. Failure to turn up to compulsory events will often result in warnings or loss of credits. Failure to attend may result in being removed from the university.


  • Make use of PASS. This is an invaluable opportunity to meet with students who have been through the same experiences and worked through similar chemistry problems to you. You may wish to ask your PASS Leaders questions about which you would not want to approach an academic member of staff. PASS is also a great way to learn with your fellow students, to make friends and to share information about Manchester.


  • Plan for exams. You will do best in your exams if you practice and work through problems as you go along, so that you not only remember the notes but properly understand the content. Exams at university often require understanding of process rather than just memorising facts thus you may have to change the way you revise.


  • Keep in touch. Each year unfortunately we find some students lose their way, be it through family or medical problems, feeling as though they aren't enjoying Manchester, Chemistry or student life in general. The University has a variety of support services and people who can help so if you find you are struggling, make sure you tell someone, because we can't help if we don't know there's a problem. Your first point of call should be your personal tutor but you can contact the education office staff if you feel that you don’t want to talk to your tutor.


  • Read your emails. Most announcements, especially those relating to aspects of administration (deadlines, things you need to check etc.) are sent to student distribution lists via your University email address. It's vital that you get into the habit of checking your account daily.

What our students say

We asked some of our current students for their ‘top tips’ to settle into University life and get the most from your time here. Here are a few of the replies:

"Be open and speak to new people every day; at Uni you meet a lot of interesting people and learn really cool things."

 "Don't be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure about any of the course content, don’t feel stupid for asking, you’ll probably find that most people are thinking the same thing."

"Even if the lecturers put their notes on blackboard, try not to miss too many lectures. Make notes and, if there is something that you don’t understand, ask! You will receive additional information in lectures."

"Tutorial and PASS sessions are very helpful for students who have problems understanding course materials."

"Always have at least a read over lecture material from the day during the evening, and look up stuff that doesn't make sense at first."

"If you are worried about finding your way around Manchester and the Uni, explore with some friends, especially the library. That way you won’t get lost on your own!"

"Make sure to take advantage of the Careers Service here, they hold great workshop sessions and it's very easy to book an appointment for a CV check or a mock interview."

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