How to Prepare for your First University Assignment

Moving to university is a massive step in your life. It will shape your first few years as an adult, propel you into the unknown and help you grow up, learn vital skills that will stand you in good stead for your future, and help you build a career. 

There are certain ways in which your GCSEs and A-Levels are formatted, and you’ll have become accustomed to how best to write essays in your school years to get the best results. 

All of this now goes out of the window when you enter university and you’ll be taking on coursework and exams that are the next level up from anything you’ve encountered before.

That’s not to say you should be worried though. As your first university assignment approaches there are some clear and effective ways that you can approach it. 

We’ve put together some helpful hints as to how you can best prepare for your first university assignments. If you are clever with your approach, hardworking and determined to succeed, you’ll do well at university life.

1. Attend All Your Lectures And Seminars

lecture and seminar

You are attending university to learn, and your lectures and seminars are there for you to take on board all the information and expertise that your tutors will pass on to you. 

You might find that it is a struggle to get out of bed on a daily basis and go to university after you’ve been partying hard during freshers’ week and getting to know new friends.

It is vital though that you get into the habit and that you attend everything. There are times you might not be able to attend, but always let your tutors know and try to get access to notes from those you will miss. 

The more information you take on board, the better your knowledge and assignments will be.

2. Plan Carefully And Be Prepared

sticky notes planning

The first thing to consider with any university assignment is that the best way to do well is to be as fully prepared as possible. 

Take the time to plan carefully and methodically. It is perfectly ok to take as much time as you need to look over the details of the assignment and to plan accordingly. 

Look at the criteria of the assignment, write down a list of all your ideas relating to the specifics of the assignment and think about what questions you need to ask and what the purpose and end result of the assignment is. 

Writing a plan at this point will help you when it comes time to write and complete the assignment.

3. Research Thoroughly

female with laptop preparing for assignment

This is the phase of a university assignment that takes the longest, but it can be truly fulfilling and will help you learn key research skills that will help throughout the cycle of your university course and beyond into your post-graduate life. 

If you are unsure about the types of sources that you need, take the time to speak to your tutors and ask the university library for help in finding them.

At this point, you should take as many detailed notes as possible, before working through and bringing the puzzle together.

4. Using Academic Journals

academic journal

One of the best ways to improve your referencing and research is to understand how to effectively use academic journals, rather than relying on Wikipedia and other easy to find Internet sources. 

Using peer-reviewed journals and books is the best way to enhance your university assignments and make sure your thoughts and opinions are based on a solid foundation of academic research. 

Journals are found in university libraries in both physical and digital form.

5. Write A Draft

writing research

Your first draft of any university assignment is important, as it is the first chance you get to try and bring together your research, notes and knowledge to try and get to that end point you’d written about in your plan. 

Put together a draft that is in some semblance of working order, but at this point you don’t have to worry about your spelling and grammar being perfect, just make sure you have a general draft written that follows the specific guidelines of your course.

6. Re-draft

woman with deadlines

This is the point where you need to schedule in a big chunk of time to look through your first draft and figure out what works, what doesn’t, tweak and amend things, delete, and add sections where necessary and then finally, proofread. 

At this point you are tightening everything up into a clear university assignment that is ready to hand in.

7. Understand How To Reference

man referencing for his first university assignement

This is one of the biggest changes you’ll encounter between school learning and university learning. 

Your first university assignment is where you’ll learn how to reference for the first time. It is an essential part of almost every single course at university, and you’ll find that your tutors will bring it into lectures and seminars early on in your time at university to ensure you get to grips with it as quickly as possible. 

There are different referencing guides and systems depending on which university and course you are studying, so always make sure you understand what is expected of you and always ask questions of your tutor and other students to make sure you are doing things the right way. 

There is no shame in asking for help.

8. Lay A Marker Down

writing in book

Think of your first university assignment as your first marker for the year ahead. In your first year of university, you generally only need to get a passing grade to go through to the second year. 

After that, your grades will go towards your final degree classification. This takes the pressure off the first year in some ways, but it also gives you a chance to hone your skills and your first university assignment is a chance to see where you are right now and to work out where you need to improve with future assignments. 

You can use this first assignment as a template and a marker to look back on in future and to see how far you have come.

As you can see, there are some clear steps that you can take to ensure that you are fully prepared for your first university assignment. Be fully involved with your lectures and seminars, utilise the university library to find journals and other academic sources, ask about referencing and what you need to do, and always have a plan of action and thorough research to back up your first draft. You’ll get there, we have faith in you to work hard and get results with your university assignments, whatever course you are studying.



The Student Guide: 10 Things to do in Bangor

Bangor is one of the smallest cities in the UK, and this North Wales-based university actually has more students than it does locals, which makes it an interesting and fun place to study.

There are also no other universities in the area and as a result, university life is at the centre of everything in Bangor.

Living in Bangor as a student is never dull, not only will you find plenty of things to do in the city, but it is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape and nature in the entire country. With Snowdonia National Park on your doorstep, as well as the beautiful Menai Strait between Bangor and Anglesey…what more could you really want?

Looking at Bangor for things to do before you move? Don’t worry, our list of 10 places will be sure to get your calendars looking busy! Keep reading to find out what made the cut…

1. Explore Snowdonia

snowdonia in bangor

Snowdonia must be seen to be believed. When searching for Bangor things to do, you are in the perfect location to explore Snowdonia National Park.

Invest in a good pair of walking boots and you can head up one of six walking routes up to the top or take the easy route and catch the Snowdon Mountain Railway…who really needs to know?!

The scenery throughout Snowdonia is stunning, it’s bound to take your breath away!

For students looking to get out and about in nature, or to blow away the cobwebs after a night out at the Student Union, a visit here will sure clear your head!

Don’t forget to prioritise your mental and physical well being whilst at uni! A walk here will release any tension and relax your body.

2. The Llyn Peninsula

sea by bangor

Just 30 minutes away from your student accommodation in Bangor, the Llyn Peninsula is like walking into a completely different part of the world.

It is home to some of the finest beaches you’ll find anywhere in the UK and that’s why it is often talked about as a piece of the Mediterranean in North Wales.

If you are looking to get away from stress and be out in nature, the Llyn Peninsula is the perfect place to chill out with friends in the great outdoors or to take part in water sports.

Along the unspoilt coastline you’ll discover fantastic walking paths, dinghy sailors, wakeboarders, and wildlife enthusiasts.

3. Treborth Gardens

botanical gardens for students to visit

Hidden right by the side of the Menai Bridge, Treborth Gardens is a fantastic place where students and locals come together every week (Thursdays) to help with the growth and cultivation of wild and tropical orchids.

The humid Orchid House is a good place to go on those cold days during the winter months, as Bangor can be quite cold all year round in all honesty! It is a really fulfilling way to spend your time and to meet new people.

4. Go Surfing

surfing in bangor

If you are into water sports, and surfing in particular, Surf Snowdonia at North Wales’ WaveGarden is the perfect place for you, just a 30-minute journey outside of Bangor.

Here, you’ll find the world’s longest man-made surfing wave which stretches for a magnificent 150 metres.

If you are learning to surf for the first time or want to hone your skills, it is the best place to be in this part of the world.

5. Go to Zip World

zip wire

Another fun day out is Zip World, where you’ll find the longest zip line in Europe. It also happens to be the fastest zip line in the world, so prepare for some real thrills.

It is a fun-filled, action-packed day out that is perfect for a group of university friends looking for something to do in Bangor, and something away from what you’d normally expect.

If you’re looking to bond with new uni mates or just treat yourselves after some hard studying sessions, Zip World is a lot of fun!

6. A Night Down The Pub

pub drinks

Patrick’s Bar is an institution for students in Bangor. It’s an Irish pub located in the heart of the city, and you’ll find a little bit of everything here.

If you are into cheap shots to get a big night out started, Patrick’s has you covered. If live sport on the TV screens is more your thing, you’ve got access to that. For live bands and music, there’s plenty of dates booked in the calendar you need to check out!

7. A Coffee At Blue Sky Café

coffee break 

A firm favourite coffee spot in Bangor, Blue Sky Café is a fantastic place to sit and take a rest during a hectic day of study.

The café has a strong purpose focusing on locally sourced ingredients and ethical trade, which makes them super popular amongst both locals and students.

There are comfortable sofas, wicker chairs and wood-burning stove, making it a fantastic place to study away from your desk in your bedroom.

Blue Sky often becomes a second home for students in the city, with its comfortable and friendly vibes.

8. Visit Penrhyn Castle

inside the welsh castle

A stunning example of Welsh history, Penrhyn Castle is a fantasy castle from the 19th century.

Located between Snowdonia and the Menai Strait, it is an incredible piece of architecture that must be seen to be believed.

It is home to one of the largest collections of classical art in the whole of Wales and during the warmer months, it is a relaxing and interesting place to take a picnic and sit out on the well-kept grounds.

You can even spot the North Wales coast from here if you look closely…we’re in love!

9. Explore The Wealth Of Arts And Culture

art gallery in bangor for students to visit

Storiel and Pontio are the two great places for arts and culture in Bangor.

Storiel is the former Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery and it is the oldest building in Wales to be dated by an inscription.

It is home to art from as far back as 1884 and showcases the history and cultural shifts in Wales over the centuries.

Pontio on the other hand, is the creative hub of modern art and culture in Bangor.

It is open 7 days a week and has a cinema that focuses on independent releases, theatre, live music, cabaret shows, contemporary circus and workshops for aspiring artists.

10. Go Bird Watching

bird watching in bangor

Just on the outskirts of Bangor, the Spinnies Aberogwen North Wales Wildlife Trust is a fantastic place to go bird watching.

For newcomers and experts alike, a day out at the Spinnies, with the incredible surroundings of the Snowdonia Mountains and Menai Straits, is a sight to behold.

The nature reserve is the perfect location to view bird feeding, providing plenty of shelter for birds including the Kingfisher, ChiffChaff, Little Egret, Greenshank, Orange-tip and many more.

There is no entry fee to the reserve, and it remains open during the daylight hours, so Autumn and Spring are the perfect seasons to head on down and see the best of birdlife in the area.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Bangor, both in the city and throughout the beautiful and spectacular surroundings. Whether you are looking for a hike up a mountain, a leisurely coastal walk, you want to see art and culture, music, a drink with friends or a quick cup of coffee before university, there is plenty to see and do in this small and charming cathedral city in North Wales.