Welcome back to the blog and for those of you who are currently deep in exam mode – I wish you the very best of luck. It may not seem it now, but soon all those months of hard work and revision will pay off and exam season will be behind you!
With the glorious Summer holidays on the horizon stretching before you, the months of fun may seem endless, but unfortunately they will go by quickly so it’s crucial to plan your Summer reading now! There are three key success factors to making the most of your Summer reading:
I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but planning ahead is crucial if you want to cover a lot of reading material without cramming it all into the last week of Summer. Nothing is more disheartening that reaching the last week of the holidays and realizing you’ve left yourself a dozen thick books to get through! If you are a bookworm, don’t feel obligated to make every book you read this Summer an academic one; by mixing up what you read you are more likely to keep engaged. Similarly, if you are a slow reader, don’t try and power through some overly dense tomes. Make use of the wealth of bite-size science journalism online and offline to mix up your reading habits, such as blogs, magazines or newspapers.
Don’t spend all Summer on one book, even if it’s a complicated one, it won’t look impressive on your personal statement saying that’s all you have read! On the topic of personal statements, please DO NOT LIE. In countless mock interviews, I have asked students to tell me about their favourite chapter in a book they mention on their personal statement, only to be met by a look of panic. Anything you mention in your personal statement you should be able to talk about for at least 5 minutes without interruption.
I know it sounds old fashioned but it’s an elegant solution to a problem that I guarantee all of you will face; anything you read during the Summer will be long forgotten by the time you have your interviews in December. This isn’t your fault, your brain will be dealing with all your new schoolwork in the autumn term and the details of your Summer reading will simply be drowned out. As such, whether in hard copy or on your hard drive, save articles, cut out New Scientist clippings, bookmark blogs and put sticky notes (with annotations) into books you read. That way, in the weeks just prior to your interviews you can review all the articles that you have found interesting over the last six months. Don’t be that student trawling through December’s issue of New Scientist trying to find an article to discuss in their interview!
In the meantime, good luck with the final parts of your exams and coursework and see you on the other side!