3 Assignment Hacks from a University Marker for Better Grades.

It can be difficult to ace your university assignments. What assignment hacks could help? I hear you ask.

Well, assignments are always a little different: a report, an essay, a review.

It’s hard to get generalised tips that can help to improve your writing across multiple styles of assessments.

However, getting good grades (regardless of the assignment) relates to two key things: understanding what the marker wants and making it clear to them that you’ve included it.

That’s it!

You can take my word for it. As a PhD student, I’ve marked assignments for undergraduate courses multiple times.

There is limited time that can be spent marking each assignment, so it’s important that you are clear, straight-to-the-point and hitting the key sections of the rubric.

Here are 3 assignment hacks (from a university marker!) that you can use for any courses and subjects, to improve your grades.

simple assignment hacks with book in background

Assignment Hacks 1: Be Clear on the Content

Understanding what you need to include in your assignment is the first big hurdle to getting a good grade.

I always thought this was a simple thing: include in your assignment what your lecturer/professor wants you to include.

However, I’ve marked some reports that have introductions going completely off-topic things (discussing literature/information that’s never been talked about in the course) and losing themselves a bunch of marks.

Being mindful of exactly what the content should be is so so important.

There’s a couple of things to be aware of here.

  • Is there a clear format to the assignment (paper, essay, report)?
  • Do you need to include specific topics/information from the course/lectures?
  • Do you need to include certain authors/papers in your discussion?
  • Do you need to write from one perspective? Or is it an argument/debate?

It’s crucial to be clear on the information you have to include.

For example, if the lecturer says that your introduction needs to discuss the ‘factors that influence attraction’ and you’ve had a lecture on ‘factors that influence attraction’ then you should be writing about those!

Don’t go and find a new set of different factors of attraction, or discuss the philosophy of attraction, or why you are very attracted to the course – you were asked to introduce the ‘factors that influence attraction’ so do just that!

Often, students will make it harder than it is.

if you’ve been asked to include something, then include it.

You can of course slightly extend yourself here and there. There could be alternate perspectives to factors of attraction but this would only be a couple of sentences just highlighting how there are alternate theories too.

The assignment should include what you have been asked to include.

Make sure that you are clear on what that is.

assignment hack checklist
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Assignment Hack 2: Make it Flow

It is so so hard to mark an assignment when a student doesn’t know how to write a clear sentence. It’s hard to follow their train of thought and know if they’ve actually hit the points in the rubric or if they are just rambling.

I know that writing is a developed skill. You have to put in the time to understand how to be clear, concise and straight-forward in your writing.

But – you really should put in the time to hone in your writing skills, because it’s easy to lose marks when your flow can’t be followed.

When I say ‘make it flow’ what I mean is writing with straight-forward sentences.

My key tips here would be:

  • The longest sentence isn’t the best sentence. I believe students often think they sound smart and fancy including overly wordy sentences. This isn’t the case. It often sounds like you don’t understand punctuation, and the writing comes across like talking. Have a look here at how varying your sentence length is so important.
  • Follow the instructed format. For example, introduction, body graphs and conclusion. If you need to know what each should include, have a look here. Give the marker a clear structure.
  • Each paragraph should have an opening ‘topic’ sentence, and a concluding remark on why it’s important to the current writing. It’s important to keep each paragraph discussing only one topic, so that you can adequately cover the points you need to, critically analyse the evidence and address the reason why you’ve included the information/why it’s important to the current argument. This is something that I often don’t see in undergraduate writing.

assignment hack: essay writing tips link

Assignment Hacks 3: Read the Rubric

You’ve heard me mention it a couple of times now throughout this article.

Read the rubric.

I say this because it is seriously the most crucial thing you can do while writing any assignment to make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of a high grade.

When I am marking, I will have the student’s essay open on the left of my computer screen, and the marking rubric on the right.

Marking involves comparing the student’s work with the rubric and determining if they have correctly, effectively and extensively covered what the rubric is asking of them.

When you are in the process of writing, keep the rubric in mind.

When you’ve completed the assignment, do exactly as a marker would do: put your document and the rubric side by side.

Go through the list of items, and see if you’ve ticked each box.

It’s also important here to be mindful of how many points each section is worth. For example, you don’t want to have one sentence to conclude your essay (albeit a great sentence) if the conclusion is worth 35% of the essay. It’s likely that you need to go into more depth, make more connections to the external world and re-highlight the importance of your work.

If you’ve got an essay that you need to tackle, read my essay specific writing tips here.

If you need a little help with staying focused and concentrating, this might help!

All the best!

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reMarkable Tablet Review: My 2 years of Experience.

The Remarkable Paper Tablet is something that you see, and suddenly want to get your hands on. But, is the tablet still worth it, two years on? I’ve chatted about its use as a student and as a bullet journal but haven’t yet given a full reMarkable tablet review. Read on to see my (first generation) reMarkable tablet review, two years after its purchase.

reMarkable Tablet Review (Two Years on)

Looking back into my emails, I purchased the first generation reMarkable paper tablet (with a white outer casing) in June of 2019.

I remember it turning up at my door only a couple days after and being absolutely astounded by the unboxing experience. The reMarkable comes in a grey magnetic box, labelled “better paper, better thinking” and definitely giving off some Apple packaging kind of vibes.

Turning it on and feeling the writing experience was definitely something else! Seeing my very familiar handwriting easily translated on reMarkable’s screen was really cool.

The actual tactile feeling of writing on the tablet is something that I can’t describe in words, so I’m not going to try, but it definitely is unlike writing on an iPad or phone screen! I haven’t experienced anything that really emulates the feeling of the tablet.

When I ordered the reMarkable tablet, I was in my third year of university. It didn’t take long at all to become a staple item in my undergraduate backpack.

remarkable paper tablet and spotify laptop

The first year…

I was always someone who wrote lecture notes in a notebook. My stack of notebook was very easily (and very quickly) replaced with the reMarkable paper tablet. Instead of carrying around 4 different notebooks, I had one device with all the note-taking capabilities I needed.

I have never been very fussy with the options of pens/markers on the tablet. As I mostly used the tablet for writing simple notes, my go-to was the fineliner in its smallest size. I could highlight any of the important things using the highlighter, and that was about all I needed!

I’ve therefore not got a lot to say about anyone who wants to use the tablet for drawing/design purposes (as I don’t have too much experience there – besides a ‘boring lecture’ doodle now and then).

However, I did find very early on that the battery was very average. I was charging it probably every two/three days depending on the amount of in-person classes/lectures I had to attend.

The battery issue has considerably decreased with the updates from reMarkable though overtime though. I’ve also changed the way I use the tablet (read on…) so I don’t encounter any problems with the battery life at all.

Another noticeable con that came up in the first year was the discolouring of the original reMarkable pen that comes with the device. For the first few months, it was nice and crisp white, looking very fancy matchy-matchy with my tablet. However, it didn’t take long for the grip of the pen to discolour, looking dirty every time I wielded it.

I still haven’t worked out a way to fix this. While I did end up going out and purchasing the Steadler Noris Digital Pen from Amazon, I still love the size of the original pen (and keep using it regardless of its off-white colour).

I would love to buy myself another reMarkable pen to make up for my off-coloured original, but I, still to this day, cannot justify the money to buy the alternative remarkable pens from their website.

In a similar fashion, I never ordered the folio that is made by the reMarkable company. Just a little bit too pricey for me!

I took the liberty to get something a little more exciting (and rose gold) for my tablet – a simple apple iPad sleeve, with an apple pencil holder from Amazon. It has survived the two years of me owning and using my reMarkable tablet!

Overall, there were easily some noticeable improvements that could have been made before the original reMarkable was released. But, in the first year of owning the device, it did exactly what it was meant to do: it was a notebook in device form.

Two Years On…

I still carry my reMarkable in my bag on a daily basis. It still plays a role in how I do my work as neuroscientist in-training (PhD candidate). However, I definitely use it a little differently than I did before.

My reMarkable now takes a bit of a back seat in my work, and I think that’s mostly because I don’t have a need to take bulk handwritten notes like I did before (in undergraduate university classes).

Now, I spend a lot of time doing work that is a little different and that doesn’t involve copying down large bits of information to later make sense of and memorise.

How I use the reMarkable Paper Tablet now

There are a couple clear instances where I’ll reach for my tablet instead of typing up notes in Notion.

I will always take my reMarkable in to supervisor/laboratory meetings and workshops to jot down key points I need for later on.

I use my tablet to easily access journal articles if I want to catch up on some reading I need to do on the bus.

I have put my notes for a presentation/tutorial on there so that when I am presenting or teaching, I still look professional. It is better than having a pile of paper up there with you!

I have actually reached for the tablet to draw up figures for a manuscript I’m currently writing. That was definitely unexpected! Then the sketches are easily accessible on my office computer.

It’s also really held a strong position as an acting Kindle. I’ve transferred quite a few ebooks to it, and often use it as an easy way to make my books (for leisure) and work stuff easily transferrable in a single device (while still being nice for the eyes).

In conclusion

The reMarkable tablet has always been a staple in my everyday work flow for the entire two years that I have owned it. While there were a few bumps in the beginning, the consistent updates from remarkable have helped to make the device practical and usable in every day situations.

If you think you are someone who would love to stick with hand-writing notes, but make them more accessible, translatable and streamline your notes – you will likely not be disappointed!

Hope you enjoyed this reMarkable tablet review (two years on)!

If you want to read more about the reMarkable and how I use it, have a look at my other blog posts:

How I use the reMarkable Paper Tablet as a student

The reMarkable Paper Tablet as a Bullet Journal.

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Using the reMarkable Tablet as a Bullet Journal

The reMarkable Paper Tablet has honestly changed my note-taking game as a student. It’s really nifty – the tablet makes all your work available across multiple devices, saves you carrying stacks of note books and saves a few trees along the way.

I only started my bullet journal half a year before I transitioned to a paper-less university lifestyle.

While I was sad about giving up my new little dotted diary, I was impressed by how easily it was to transition my bullet journal style to the reMarkable tablet.

How I use the reMarkable Tablet as a Bullet Journal

hello july bullet journal title page

With multiple brushes, pens, and pencil options to choose from on the reMarkable, it isn’t difficult to transition your physical bullet journal to a digital space.

With the reMarkable’s highlighter option, you can also highlight deadlines and important notes as you would in a notebook.

Using the In-Built Templates

The reMarkable can easily mimic a dotted notebook through its notebook templates.

remarkable tablet bullet journal dot template

When you add a new notebook to your tablet, you simply scroll through the available templates and choose a variant of dots!

As you can see above, if you prefer your bullet journal on another format – such as a grid – there are many options on the remarkable to have it exactly how you’d like!

reMarkable Bullet Journal Spreads

As with any bullet journal, you have the option to make it as simple or as complex as you’d like.

For me, I like to keep my journal really minimal (it just means that I can prep my week nice and quickly!)

My minimal weekly spread usually looks something like this.

bullet journal on remarkable weekly spread

You can fill the journal with whatever things you need – habit trackers, to-do lists or sleep journals.

That is, after all, the point of a bullet journal! It’s an empty canvas to fill with exactly what you need.

For some inspiration, here is how I use the reMarkable as a to-do list, meal planner and health diary.

Journalize Templates

You can also download other templates to use on the reMarkable.

Journalize is my favourite place to find really functional and neat templates. They have all sorts of different templates, from yearly calendars to daily schedules.

If you’re not a fan of always drawing up your own weekly spreads, you will love what Journalize can do for you.

Journalize template on remarkable paper tablet

Those are some of the really simple ways I use my reMarkable paper tablet as a bullet journal.

If you want to know all the ways that I use my reMarkable as a university student, you can check it out here!

Happy Bujo-ing!

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How to use the reMarkable Paper Tablet for University Students.

How being a paper person just got a whole lot cooler – and more sustainable!

The reMarkable tablet is a very cool and very neat little device. When I first saw the advert, it ticked all the right boxes. But the company doesn’t delve too deeply into everything this the reMarkable can do for university students.

I am a sucker for a notebook full of neat hand-written notes and I kept feeling absolutely rubbish about myself at the end of every semester – throwing away stacks of lecture print outs and highlighted journal articles.

So when I stumbled across an advert for the reMarkable, I was hooked.

the remarkable paper tablet for university students exams

It’s advertised as a tablet with a ‘paper-like feel,’ and it can help you free yourself from distractions. But I’m going to show you how you can actually use the reMarkable paper tablet as a university student everyday.

Taking notes

The easiest and most straightforward functionality of the reMarkable tablet for students is taking notes as you usually would on a lined piece of paper.

lined paper on the remarkable paper tablet

After adding a notebook, you simply select a ‘lined’ template (which mimics a classic notepad) and start jotting down whatever you need. There are options for different types of writing tools (ballpoint pen, fineliner, marker, pencil, brush) and each can be various sizes to suit your writing style. There is also a ‘highlighter’ option to mark out important bits!

The best part is, if you’re a perfectionist, the reMarkable has tonnes of options to edit your work as you go. Having to scribble out my hand written notes (and essentially ruining their aesthetic) was the bane of my existence.

tool bar with different pen options of the remarkable tablet

When note-taking on the reMarkable you can erase sections on the page, move chunks around, resize things and copy things. There are plenty of chances to organise your notes ‘just right.’

Marking Up Lecture Slides

If you’d like to take notes on the lecture slides, you can also conveniently convert a Powerpoint into PDF in hand-out layout.

powerpoint lecture slides with mark ups on remarkable

Do this buy selecting the print option on Powerpoint, changing the layout to ‘hand-outs’ (I usually do 2 slides per page) and then save as a PDF using the drop down at the bottom left. You transfer this PDF to your device using reMarkable’s own computer software, and then open it up as your lecture begins.

Readings & Researching

If your course requires you to do a ridiculous amount of readings, you can most definitely do this on your reMarkable. Bonus points for the easier-to-read and less harsh for your eyes Kindle-like screen. Anything you want to transfer to your remarkable, however, must be either ePUB or PDF.

research article PDF on remarkable paper tablet

Sometimes reading a certain PDF can be difficult if the writing is super small, but there is an option to zoom in. It can however be a bit slow to navigate the page, make notes, and seamlessly read all at once. I haven’t yet found writing size to be an issue with typical journal articles.

Calendar & Daily Scheduling

I have imported both a calendar and daily scheduling ‘template’ to my reMarkable which allows me to note down important dates, class times and what I need to achieve in a day. I’ve used PDFs from Journalize (who have created a whole bunch of really functional templates for reMarkable users).

Bullet Journal

With so many templates on the reMarkable, you can also set up your own digital Bullet Journal! Using the dot template, you can create all the usual bullet journal set ups, and with the various writing tools, you can produce creative and artistic spreads just as you would with a real notebook in your hand.

See how I use the reMarkable paper tablet as a bullet journal.

Technicalities…

As I previously mentioned, the reMarkable has its own computer software in which you can drag and drop files to add them to your device.

This program neatly syncs automatically after any doodling you do on the device, and all your work can be instantaneously viewed on your computer and downloaded as a PDF file.

On top of this, the reMarkable also has a mobile app (from both the App Store and Google Play) which gives your phone the same ability to view any notebooks you’ve made and transfer files to your reMarkable.

remarkable computer software with organised folders
The system itself also does a really nice job of allowing you to organise your files.

Something that I don’t use too often, but is an interesting feature – is the reMarkable’s ability to translate hand written notes into text files that you can email to yourself or colleagues.

I have used this feature to transfer my notes to word/Notion and make my notes searchable.

With this device, I have never been in a situation that I cannot access my notes!

Something that can definitely not be done with real life notebooks. It basically means that I can revise for exams at any spare second of the day – productive much?

Final Thoughts…

Overall, the reMarkable has seriously changed the game for note-taking at university.

My tablet was the centre of attention for its first few weeks of classes (and also catches the eye of lecturers and tutors – a nice ice-breaker!).

And you no longer have to carry around stacks of notebooks or print-outs for multiple classes. Honestly a win-win situation.

As an old-school girl, I also purchased this Steadtler Noris Digital Pen to use with my reMarkable which just makes the experience even cooler.

Honestly, the reMarkable is exactly what you need to keep up with the digital world and save the trees, even as a ‘paper person.’

If you’re still unsure: check out my post on 5 reasons why you need a reMarkable Paper Tablet as a student.

the remarkable paper tablet is for students

Read my latest posts!

The reMarkable website now has a tonne more content than when I was first searching for information so check it out here.

You can also find lots of happy reMarkable users on the reMarkable usergroup facebook page. While there are users who have expectations exceeding reMarkable’s capabilities (wishing it worked like an iPad), I find that a lot of people who bought the tablet for its simplicity are very happy.

Disclosure: This blog receives a commission for using affiliate links within our content.  Although we receive commission for using and linking to these products, all of our opinions and suggestions are unbiased.

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