English is a love, a passion and to some extent a desire. It’s one of the biggest languages in the world, and to know it, and love it, is to want to learn it. If you’ve chosen English as a major it says something about you. Now, if you love it as much as most English Majors would assume you do, you’ve got to put the time in. It won’t be a chore either.
The first simple and easy tip is too find out what the course will cover, and read books in those areas. Any kind of book. Fiction, or non-fiction it doesn’t matter. If you are going to be studying World War One, then read World War One literature, of which there is plenty. If it’s fantasy, then read fantasy novels. It’s out there in abundance, and if you’ve got to compare novels, then you can compare the course texts to your own collection.
While doing all this reading, have a pen and a pad next to you, and write down the blurb of the book, who wrote it, the title, a few important quotes with the context, who said it, page number, and have it all described in detail. Is there anything different about this paragraph? Any different type of form, structure? This will really help when it comes to revision, as when everyone else is moaning about having to re-read half a library, you’ll have a short blurb of the book written down, and a few quotes already to memorise.
This might come across as being rather obvious, but just read, even if it’s not books to do with the course. Reading anything from newspapers to blogs can seriously increase your skills in essay writing, punctuation, spelling, and general knowledge. It helps an awful lot.
Meet up with friends from your course and discuss the books. It may sound silly, but literature is there to be loved and discussed. Or if it’s English Language, do the same. If there’s a term you don’t understand, a course mate might, and by mentioning it and talking about it, you build skills and earn ideas you might not have thought of. It’s a good way to hear of different interpretations of a novel or a poem that you might not have thought of.
Take good notes. Good notes can really help in the simplest of tasks. Listen in your lectures, these small things help. Write everything said down, even if it’s not by the professor, or whoever is taking the class or lecture. Even just attending lectures means you’re ahead of the game already, those exams will be easier simply for your presence.
Set aside a good amount of time each night to do your essays and reading. It will become habit, and if you love the course then it won’t seem like a chore and as if it’s biting into all your precious socialising time.
A good essay writing skill can make or break an English student, so learn how to make the best ever essay and keep practising. Simple ways to do this are to get past exam questions and do it that way. It’s excellent practise for exam timing too.
Procrastinating is not your best friend. Make time. Keep that time. Do it as soon as you get it. I’m not talking about extra reading, but class work that is always horrifically important. Not doing this work can get you into more trouble than you’d like.
Make friends with the professor if you don’t understand something. They’re there to help, and help they will if you come to them at the right time with sensible questions. Turn up with your notes, the books, and a happy smile and ask politely.
Anyone can excel if you put your head down. Getting into the rhythm of study can be hard, but it’s worth it in the end.