Your First Year


Get your second year off to a winning start by making the most of your university experiences so far. You may have done really well in your first year and would like to sustain this, or you may want to improve on your first year.

However you feel you performed, you can continue to develop your academic skills and learn how to be more successful.


Reflect and Review

Whether you are already in your second year or even coming to the end of your first year, you can ease your path into the second year by building on what you have learnt so far. Take some time to think about your first year – you will probably have attended lectures and seminars, received marks and feedback for assignments, and sat exams and received your marks.

  • Look back through the material from these. Did you struggle with any areas? Think about what you enjoyed and what you need more support with from your first year

  • Make notes on what you think are the key subjects you covered, and remember that for a lot of subjects, what you learn in second year will build upon this knowledge, so try to remember it - you might need it again!

  • Remind yourself of any practical techniques you learnt in your first year that you will be using again in second year

You might be going back home or you might be staying in Leeds over the summer, but you can still use Library resources wherever you are. Try doing some reading to maintain your interest in your subject or to help you understand a subject you struggled with in your first year.

  • You can access your reading lists from the library website so take a look at some of the core reading for your next modules

  • You can also use Library Search to start searching for material on the subjects you will be studying. If you’re not in Leeds you will still be able to access reading lists and also read material that the library has available electronically, like journal articles and ebooks


Use your feedback

Look at the feedback you received throughout your first year; it’s important to use this in a constructive way to improve your future work.

  • Go through your assignments and look at the comments you’ve received – are there any common concerns that your tutors have identified in your work?

  • Also think about other feedback you might have received throughout the year – this could be formal or informal:

    • Have you had verbal feedback from tutorials, seminars or lectures?

    • Look back at your notes from meetings with your personal tutor

    • Review the Minerva area – for example, is there any feedback delivered to your whole module group? Are there any model answers to questions?

If you're struggling to identify what areas you need to work on, take a look at our feedback pages for top tips on how to interpret your feedback and use it in a positive way to improve your work.

Make an action plan of how you will address and improve in each area:

  • Use the Skills@Library webpages to find advice and good practice on improving specific academic skills and assignments

  • This year, make sure you actively seek feedback from your tutors. Take advantage of opportunities such as practice essays or submitting essay plans to get ongoing feedback throughout your second year


Organise and de-clutter!

Doing this will help you to reflect on what you have learnt in your first year, and also mean you can find things again easily if you need to go back over that material in your second or third year.

  • Go through your paper notes and file them into meaningful folders, for example by module, assignment, core topic

  • Make sure your electronic files correspond to any paper files you have – use the same headings and make sure you can find your submitted assignments easily

You have some space on the University desktop so consider using that to back up your electronic notes – you can access Desktop Anywhere from Minerva and anything you save here will be available on the university network.


Time Management

In order to meet all of your academic deadlines and still have time to enjoy life, it is vital to manage your time at University. This year it’s really important to be able to stay in control of your work by managing your time and being productive.

Make a plan of the semester, including all of your commitments: lectures, seminars, labs, meetings, part-time jobs, clubs and societies, and keep adding to it.

Create a weekly plan of the work you need to do that week, along with any important deadlines for assignments or seminar reading. Plan how you will fit this in alongside your usual university and personal commitments, and make sure you prioritise what needs to be done first.

For more practical tips, including examples of planning your key tasks, visit our time management pages.

Video - Students talk about managing their workloads