International College

How an international student prepares for assessments

Posted 27 May 2021
A student writing on a whiteboard

Laura from China, who is studying the International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities here at the College is here to share which computer programmes and software she found the most useful whilst studying with us.

Transferring from high school to college, one of the biggest changes can be that we don’t get stacks of textbooks anymore. Instead, the teachers usually upload the reading materials online, and in most cases students will download those files and read them on our own computers. At first, I was really unfamiliar to this kind of study mode. So throughout my foundation year, I have been exploring software to smoothen and aid my studying – and today I’m going to introduce the ones that I find the most useful.

PDF Reader

For me, noting and highlighting the words on the textbooks makes the content clearer for revising – and PDF Reader helps me achieve this when I’m studying on my computer. Usually, I use this free software to read long paragraphs in the textbooks.

Microsoft OneNote

Taking notes during class is also important when it comes to preparing for assessments. For this, I find Microsoft OneNote the most effective. This app allows me to insert any files and photos used in classes, as well as highlight and draw freely on its pages, just like a real notebook.

Focus Timer

When studying digitally, it is easy for me to be distracted by YouTube or social media. Thus, I find Focus Timer helpful at promoting concentration. With this app, I usually set a 25 minute study time, during which I will totally focus on my schoolwork. After the study time ends, I’ll take a 5 minute break, and repeat the same process again. This study mode helps me stay concentrated when I am preparing for the assessments, and also allow my brain to relax before it gets tired. In addition, it also allows me to track my studying.


This might sound surprising, but studying with friends is another way to remain concentrated. When preparing for assessments, my friends and I usually meet on Skype in the evenings. This always stops me from opening YouTube and Netflix, or starting to do other things before I finish studying. Besides, whenever there’s anything that I don’t understand, I can discuss with my friends immediately, without opening social media and being distracted.


The last app I often use is TimeTree, a digital calendar. By noting down each exam and assessment due date, it helps me to plan my study schedules, which aids me in keeping up my progress – and also avoiding cramming before exams.

We hope Laura’s tips help you when you begin to study for your exams! If you want to join a friendly student community with others like this, apply to join us at the International College.

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.