Now that you know how to think about grades and keep on top of pre-class work, the next step to having a healthy and happy relationship with Minerva academics is understanding what to do with graded work.

Briefly: in-class poll questions and in-depth, external assignments make up the majority of your grades at Minerva. They are your chance to get credit for what you learned from readings and classes and — especially with assignments — show that you are beginning to truly master a concept.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of them:

1. Poll Questions

Before writing, read the question thoroughly and make sure you identify all parts (for example, if it asks for a specific example). Decide what HCs or elements of HCs you want to incorporate in your response, and pull up any relevant notes.

If you do not know how to answer or find yourself running out of time, do not panic. Revisit your notes or the original reading if possible, and if you still do not know what to write, focus on displaying whatever you do know about the HC. An off-track answer is better than no answer at all.

While writing, make sure you incorporate all the information you identified — do not let yourself get stuck on one part. Demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, but do not overdo it. Each question has a tight character limit, so there’s no room for excessive explaining or even unnecessarily large words. If you absolutely cannot fit your answer into the poll, put the remaining words in the chat.

2. Assignments

A. Read the directions as soon as they are released.

Even if you do not start writing for weeks, you can start brainstorming in your free time and paying extra attention to relevant parts of class and readings. You will benefit from checking how difficult an assignment might be so you can start preparing for it well in advance, instead of being blindsided a few hours before the deadline.

B. Avoid endless drafting.

Determining the focus of your assignment over a longer period of time is helpful, but executing your ideas over several weeks or days is not always as successful. Some people find that they get bogged down in perfectionism if they spend too much time writing an essay or piece of code. If you are one of them, you might be more productive if you complete the majority of your assignment the day you plan to submit it.

3. Interspace your work.

Instead of adopting the one-sitting approach above, you might try spreading out work on your assignment as much as possible. Every time you return to the material, you see it with a fresh perspective, making you a better problem-solver and editor. While this method definitely requires more organization and the willpower to fight procrastination, it can also save you from writing-500-words-30-minutes-before-the-deadline stress.

Sometimes polls and assignments might feel frustratingly impossible (though other times they can be fun to work on). Just remember that your Foundation Year grades are not finalized at the end of that year, but will be impacted by your performance the entire time you are at Minerva. Try to follow some of the above advice to put yourself in a position to do your best work. The Quest wishes you the best of luck during your first year at Minerva!