Student perspective: Assessment deadlines – meeting and managing them

Photo of Claudia, the author of the postby Claudia Raymond-Hayling, Second year Theatre and English (BA) student and Bristol Futures Advocate.

As the winter break approaches, many of us have upcoming deadlines and assessments. This can seem daunting, but there are some really simple ways that can help you manage them, ensuring your deadlines are met and completed to the best of your ability.


Establish how your modules are assessed

On blackboard, there’s usually an ‘assessment’ section to each module. This should help you find out how you are going to be assessed and how each assessment is weighted. This is really useful to know, as different methods of assessment require different skills. If you’re aware of anything you need to work on earlier, then you’ll have as much time as possible to work on these specific areas. If you regularly check your module information, you’ll also keep updated with any extra assessment information that will help you.

Find the dates of your deadlines and exams are as soon as possible

Write down these dates – I find it useful to write this on my calendar, so I can visualise the due dates in relation to other things I have going on. However, you could also write them down on a note somewhere that’s visible, so you are always aware of the due dates, and there’s no chance of you missing a deadline. If dates or assessment information have not been released yet, make a note of it and email your tutor to find out.

Look at the essay questions and exam topics in advance

This will give you a clear idea of what topics and information you’ll be covering in your assessments. When you’re in your seminars and lectures, it’ll help you think about the information to particularly focus on, making delegation of tasks easier during term time.

Email your tutors

Your tutors will always be happy to answer questions you may have, so make use of their expertise when thinking about any specific queries in terms of assessments. Alternatively, ask other people on your course for advice – you’re in the same boat!

Attend study-skills sessions

Study-skills will equip you with the skills needed that can be applied in exams, essays and coursework, through discussions with other members of your faculty. These sessions are very insightful and can be attended through workshops, drop-ins and ­bookable sessions.

Don’t be afraid to ask for extensions if you need to

Sometimes deadlines for certain assessments can feel quite overwhelming and extensions can be very helpful when needing to complete a piece of work. Whilst there are restrictions due to COVID, it is the upmost importance that your mental health is a priority, and extensions can be invaluable during times like this.

Take breaks

Whilst making lists and revision notes can be helpful, taking time away from your studies can be just as beneficial when managing deadlines. It’s important to have a balance and doing things you enjoy outside of your studies can boost your motivation!

I really hope these tips will help with managing your deadlines, and whilst different techniques of working help for different people, it’s worth trying to implement a couple of these and see how you go. Good luck!

Student perspective: Using feedback effectively and developing your academic resilience

Photo of Tiegan, author of this blog postby Tiegan Bingham-Roberts, Bristol Futures Advocate

As the second half of TB1 approaches, there is one thing beginning to loom on our minds and creep up on us – the upcoming assessment periods in December and January. Whether those assessment deadlines are for essays, group projects, or exams, it is important to approach them with a sensible approach of incorporating feedback from previous assessments (at University, school or work) and a skill for academic resilience. Therefore, I hope this blog will help you think about how best to utilise feedback to help your future assessments.

When I was in my first year at University, I was terrified of having to complete my first assessment. I had taken a year out prior to starting University and felt like my academic reading and writing skills were a distant memory of the past, with little hope of being resurrected in time for the approaching deadline. I knew that most of the other students on my course felt the same way too, so this is completely normal.

If you are in your first year right now, you may not have had the opportunity to receive feedback on University work yet. If this applies to you, it might be worth considering ‘feedback’ as any information you have been given about something you have done in the past, and this feedback can be from friends, family, work colleagues, managers, teachers, etc. and is equally as valid as feedback from University tutors. If you think about feedback from general life, you can start to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have a grasp on your general strengths and weaknesses in relation to academia, these can help to inform your approach to assessments. You can identify these by asking the following questions to yourself:

  • What are three words my friends or family would use to describe my approach to academia?
  • Why did I get a better grade in one subject at school over another?
  • How would my teachers describe me to my University tutors?

If you are in your second year upwards right now, you will have some form of feedback from your first year which is usually available on Blackboard. If you cannot find any feedback in the grades section of Blackboard, you can contact your School or Faculty asking them to locate these documents for you or to point you in the right direction. If the type of assessments you did meant you did not receive a great deal of feedback, it is worth remembering the smaller and more informal feedback that you might have received. Every time you communicate with a tutor, lecturer, or your peers is an opportunity for feedback – such as when people acknowledge your contributions during classes and agree or disagree with you. All of these incidents can be beneficial to approaching your future work, as you have a sense of what sorts of things you are doing well, and which things need improvement.

It is easy to fall into the trap of feedback avoidance – perhaps because you were not particularly proud of the piece of work so you do not want to go back and revisit it, perhaps because it just feels like too much effort to trapse through Blackboard to find the right document, or perhaps because you are worried it will confuse your new assessment topic. I have definitely been guilty of this in the past but over time I have learnt to develop my academic resilience, which makes looking at feedback a lot less daunting and a lot more productive.

What do I mean by academic resilience? I mean that when you receive negative feedback, you are able to digest it and work upon it within a reasonable amount of time, without allowing it to throw you off track to achieve your academic goals. You can develop this important skill by doing the following:

  • Try to remove your personal attachment to the piece of work you have received negative feedback on. Although you might have poured blood, sweat, and tears into the piece of work during the time leading up to the deadline, and you may have celebrated after pressing the bittersweet ‘submit’ button, those feelings should not act as a barrier after that point.
  • Try to turn the phrase ‘negative feedback’ into ‘constructive feedback’ – if you are able to use the feedback to better your grades and your academic development at University, to graduate having learnt something new which you did not know how to do perfectly at the beginning, then ‘negative feedback’ is not negative at all, it is actually something positive!
  • Try to be balanced in your response, there is almost always something positive amidst the sea of feedback that rushes towards you as you open the document. It is easy to focus on the negatives because you want to know what you did wrong, why you did not get a higher mark, but the positives are equally important in letting you know what you did right and should replicate in the next assessment.
  • Try to change your mindset from ‘fixed mindset’ to ‘growth mindset’. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your abilities, intelligence and talents are just fixed traits – that there is no point trying to get better at something because you simply cannot do it. If you have a growth mindset, you do not believe that your abilities, intelligence and talents are fixed entities – instead, you get better at something through effort and persistence.

After developing this academic resilience, you will be able to use your feedback more effectively. You could make a document with all of the feedback you have collated in your academic career so far, going back as far as you are able to gather information for. With this document, you can then draw connections between the feedback to highlight any common themes. If more than one person has given you feedback on a particular point, then it is clearly something you need to work on, such as by having a meeting with your personal tutor, attending a tutorial or a workshop with Bristol Study Skills, or going to your PASS sessions. Likewise, if there is something you are consistently being praised for, then you can categorise this as one of your strengths and feel confident about that aspect of your assessment.

If you want to speak to me or another Bristol Futures Advocate about how to use feedback effectively and develop your academic resilience, feel free to attend one of our student-led drop-in sessions by following the page here and finding the dates and times for your Faculty.

Best of luck!