Study

Showing 80 posts tagged Study

Postgraduate Summer Festival announcement

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So updates have been a little thin on the ground recently as I’ve been occupied with exams – however, our work at LSESU has not stopped. Dissertations are due (eventually), and some of you may have issues regarding work – the SU will be open to lend a helping hand with advice and support, even when it seems everyone else has gone home. In the meantime, I am available at su.postgrad@lse.ac.uk.

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In brighter news, I am pleased to announce an exciting conclusion to Summer Term… from Thursday 3rd - Friday 4th July, we will be hosting our annual Postgraduate Summer Festival at SAW - trust me, it’s going to be good!

For those who just want to kick back after a long year, the SU will be blazing out live music all day and free food and drink to enjoy. There will be plenty of activities to partake in – details are below. For the more cerebral amongst us, check out ‘Re-imagining Our Education’ hosted in the SU the night before, giving you a chance to question senior academics on the value of a university education.

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Tips for Writing Up Your References

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References are the some of the most important (and most frustrating) parts of writing papers. Since I doubt anyone particularly enjoys writing out their references, I’ve compiled a short list of websites to assist you in accomplishing that task. 

1. Cite This For Me

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Cite This For Me is my favourite for writing up references, since it’s actually got a drop down menu to let you choose your preferred citation style, among other helpful features. Since it’s connected to WorldCat, the world’s largest bibliographic database, often times you only need to write the first few words of the title and it will immediately recognize what you’re looking for. I have only had to type in all the details for my articles once or twice- which is really quite impressive. 

2. Zotero 

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Zotero is pretty incredible, because it automatically senses when you’re using a source, and acts as a type of bookmark. It works by letting you click a little image in the corner of your url address bar and automatically saving it to your computer. Zotero supports multiple formats, and helps you easily create citations within your word document without using any outside citation creators. It’s a fantastic resource, but it’s a bit easier to understand if you actually download it.

3. Easybib

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Easybib is the first site I used for referencing, and it’s very easy to use. It supports three formats (APA, MLA, and Chicago), and it allows you to type in a bit of information (like the title, for example) to find a citation. Before it finalizes the citation though, it lets you edit the entry- which is particularly useful if you’re only using a page or two of a resource. 

For more information on how to cite your references, consult your departmental guidelines and check out these on campus resources:

Citing and Referencing for LSE students (LSE Library)

Academic writing (Teaching and Learning Centre)

Exams: What to Expect

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First, I should say that this post is primarily for postgrads, as undergrads have probably taken most of their exams by now. The information, however, is applicable to everyone.

If you’re like me and you’ve never taken exams at LSE before, you are probably starting to wonder what the experience will be like. Since I haven’t experienced it myself, I’ve made a few notes using LSE’s Examination Procedures for Candidates leaflet. Here are the main points:

  • Print a copy of your Personal Examination Timetable and bring it with you to your exams. It has your room number, seat number, and candidate number- all of which you will be needing for your exam. Make sure the sheet is clear, as any additional markings count as cheating.
  • Bring your LSE student card to each exam. 
  • If you bring a phone, turn it off and place it under your desk.
  • Most exams take place in Clement House, but not all. Check your timetable for exact information.
  • If you need to view information for individual exam adjustments or late entries, check here. Candidate numbers, course numbers, and room numbers are listed. 
  • If you arrive within 30 minutes of your scheduled start time, you can sit the exam, but you’ll still need to finish at the original end time. If you come more than 30 minutes late, you will not be admitted. Be on time!
  • Contact the Student Services Centre (020 7955 6167 / 7350) if you will need to miss an exam for any reason. 
  • "Where a candidate is absent from an examination because of illness/injury, bereavement or other serious personal circumstances, he/she may wish to submit proof of Exceptional Circumstances"
  • If you enter an exam, LSE considers it to mean that you’re claiming your are “fit to sit.” If you are feeling ill and not “fit to sit,” contact the Student Services Centre and check out the leaflet for exact details.
  • The next opportunity to resit exams will be in May/June 2015
  • Unwrapped food and clear drinking bottles are allowed as long as they aren’t disruptive. So if a bite of food might help keep you going, bring it along.
  • You must write in blue or black ink.
  • Do not write anything else once your time is up, as it counts as cheating if you do.

If you have additional questions, check the webpage, refer to the full Examination Procedures for Candidates leaflet or contact examinations@lse.ac.uk (tel: 020 7955 7770)

For some tips on how to deal with the stress of exams, check out these posts:

Mental Health & Revision

Managing Stress During Revision

A Few Time Management Techniques

Exam Advice from Tony Whelan, Quantitative Study Adviser for the TLC

In the third and final guest post from LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre this term, Tony Whelan, quantitative study adviser, will share some of his top exam tips. He is one of three of the TLC’s learning developers who will be sharing some helpful advice on exam preparation. 

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“Quantitative” exams have distinctive features that make them different from essay-based exams (though some quantitative exams include essay questions). The following tips focus on the non-essay aspects, but there are good ideas about essay-intensive subjects that in fact apply to all exams.

1. Make a plan quite early on of the topics that you want to revise for each exam, and roughly how much time to spend on them each week before the exam. Like all plans, it will need revision (say every two or three weeks) as you think over what you have achieved, and what areas you do (or don’t) need to emphasise.

2. Practice a lot, using course materials and past exams: in quantitative subjects there are lots of “small” things – algebraic manipulation, differentiation, integration, interpreting indifference curves, how to use dummy variables, etc . – that you want to be second nature when it comes to using them to tackle “big” things.

3. Use past exam papers for specific topics on which you need practice, to identify subject areas that need more work, and in other ways (see links to the presentation and recording of March’s Quantitative exam preparation event. One special skill this can give you is being able to recognise, at the start of an exam, what each question wants, whether you can provide it, and hence what questions to attempt in which order (see the link to Notes on using past exam papers). 

The Teaching and Learning Centre’s Learning World has many more ideas and tips for exam preparation and learning development in general. And its Learning development programme this term includes several events on last minute revision and stress management. 

For more information, assistance, tips and advice, visit the Teaching and Learning Centre in KSW 5.07, email tlc@lse.ac.uk, or contact Reception at 020 7852 3627

How to Back Up Files

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It’s a pretty terrible feeling when you’ve written an entire paper or (gasp!) dissertation, forgot to save it/lost it/accidentally deleted it/what-have-you, and are faced with the task of rewriting it. No one has time for that kind of ridiculousness, especially considering the workload you’re already expected to deal with. Since I firmly believe no one should ever have to experience this, I’ve done a bit of research to help you find a variety of different methods for backing up files. If you want to eliminate the risk of losing important work, consider trying one of them.

1. Download Dropbox

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I first learned about Dropbox when I started this job, and I was pretty amazed at how simple it is. All you have to do is sign up, download the application from the website, and literally drop your files into the box once the folder is created on your computer. Later, you can access your Dropbox online, and your files that you dropped from your own computer will be safe and sound and ready for use. It’s also convenient because you can share folders and documents with others quite easily via manual uploads to Dropbox.com. I’m currently using a Dropbox folder for a study group, and we’ve managed to share information quite easily from our individual accounts. 

2. Use Google Drive

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This is a bit like Dropbox in that you just click on the “Drive" tab at the top of your Gmail account (if you use Gmail, that is) and once you’re on the webpage, you can just drop your files into it and they are automatically uploaded to your Google Drive. The added convenience of this is that your file still remains on your computer in whichever file you left it. Dropbox, on the other hand, requires that your files stay in the Dropbox folder to be accessed later on (unless you specifically upload them).

3. Get a flash drive/memory stick!

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If you don’t already have one, you should really get one as soon as possible. At my internship last summer, I did all of my research directly on the files in my flash drive. I never worked on a single file outside of the flash drive, so as not to lose my information. Since the computers I was working with were old and a bit unpredictable, it was one of the best decisions I could have made. At one point, the computer crashed, and the flash drive was the one thing that salvaged the situation. So, moral of the story: use a flash drive when using computers. I was going to say “unreliable computers,” but honestly, most computers are unreliable to some degree. Better safe than sorry.

4. Try Cloud for Macs

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I’ve actually never used Cloud, but it seems like a really great app for file sharing. It appears to work similar to Dropbox and Google Drive, but when you upload your document, it converts it into easily shareable links. 

Happy saving!

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Are you working on your dissertation yet?

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If you haven’t made progress on your dissertation yet, it’s probably a good idea to start. If you’re in one of the programmes that ends nearer to the end of the year, it might be tempting to hold off on writing your dissertation until exams are over. That’s absolutely fine, but remember that if you don’t have a draft handed in to your supervisor a few weeks before the end of Summer Term, you most likely won’t be getting any feedback. I stress a “few weeks,” because sending a copy of your dissertation to your supervisor on the last day of term 1) won’t give them enough time and 2) just isn’t very nice.

Feedback is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll earn a good mark. For some programmes, you might not be allowed to get feedback from your supervisor, but for those who can, definitely take advantage of this opportunity. Even if you’ve just written a bit, make sure you contact your supervisor to find out if they’ll take a look at what you’ve written.

Here are a few other on-campus resources for your dissertation:

Teaching & Learning Centre

LSE Library:

And last, be sure to check your departmental guidelines. As an example, here is some of the dissertation information for the Social Policy department. It differs depending on your studies, so look for your specific department for more information.

Exam Advice from Claudine Provencher, LSE Fellow in the Department of Social Psychology

In the second guest post from LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre this term, Claudine Provencher, LSE Fellow in the Department of Social Psychology, will share some of her top exam tips. She is one of three of the TLC’s learning developers who will be sharing some helpful advice on exam preparation. 

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1. Devise a revision strategy that works for you, in other words one that takes into account how you like to work. And then, stick to it. 

2. Work pro-actively with other people. There are several ways of doing this:

  • Write together. Coordinate your revision with your classmates or flatmates. This could be as simple as deciding to sit together to write for one or two hours, under exam conditions.
  • Read and discuss essays together. Get together to read draft essays and share feedback on clarity, logical flow, strength of arguments, etc.  This requires a co-operation, commitment, and a kind and constructive spirit - but there is nothing like having a fresh perspective on your work to help make progress!
  • Visit your lecturers and teachers during their office hours.  Seek the support of your lecturers and teachers on specific points that arise during your writing practice and revision.
  • Form a study group to go through past exam papers. 

3. Think of exams as a game: the more you practise them, the better you become at “playing” them. 

For more exam tips from Claudine Provencher, check out this blog post from last year.

The Teaching and Learning Centre’s Learning World has many more ideas and tips for exam preparation and learning development in general. And its Learning development programme this term includes several events on last minute revision and stress management. 

For more information, assistance, tips and advice, visit the Teaching and Learning Centre in KSW 5.07, email tlc@lse.ac.uk, or contact Reception at 020 7852 3627

Reader Pass Registration at the British Library

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If you haven’t been to the British Library, I’d highly recommend a visit. And now might be a good time, particularly if you’re in need of a new study space. Here’s how to get a reader pass:

  • They recommend that you search through their catalogues first to find out if they have the resources you need for your work. Bring a printed copy of the information you’d like to access to the front desk.
  • Bring an original proof of identity and proof of address. They must be less than three months old. Check here for what documents are accepted.
  • To make it easier for yourself, pre-register online before you get there. You can also register in person, if you prefer.

If you’re just planning on studying and you don’t have any concrete work to do (i.e. dissertation), perhaps try some of these other study locations:

Places to study in London

Places to study in London (round 2)

Places to study in London (round 3)

This week’s study technique: Workstation Popcorn

How to search for great coffee shops and study spaces

A few reading techniques

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When I’m revising, I find that even if I’ve done my readings already, I need to review them again just before the test. Often times there is far too much reading to thoroughly review everything, so I’ve been looking for ways to skim and speed-read effectively. Here are a few ideas from articles and my own experience, since I know we’re all facing similar problems at the moment.

Skimming

I probably use this technique the most of all, and for me, it’s very effective. I quickly view the information I’m supposed to be reading, making sure to view each line, even if only for a few seconds. I usually try to focus in on the key words, which obviously vary depending on the subject. Other things to look out for are capitalized words (it could be a new concept), quotations (the quoted source might be even more helpful), buzzwords (“results,” “statistically significant,” etc.) and key authors (you’ll want to know what they’re saying for the exams). 

"Meta Guiding"

I read about this here, and it appeared to be suggesting that you use a guide, such as a finger or a pen, to keep yourself focused. I’d go further and suggest you use a ruler or a bookmark (horizontally, of course), since fingers and pens tend to pinpoint specific places in the text, whereas people who are trying to read fast are probably looking to go quickly from sentence to sentence. Apparently people do world speed-reading contests (?!), and the most recent winner (who read HP 7 in 47 min) uses this technique… so I’m going to take her word for it.

Read the conclusion first

The studious person in me hates to say this, but sometimes reading your entire reading list over again just isn’t going to happen. Whether it’s because of time restraints or something else, be sure, at the very least, to read the conclusions of the articles you’re supposed to be reading. If that gives you enough information to work with, excellent! And if not, at least you will now know exactly what else you’d like to figure out from the article. Beginning an article knowing what it’s going to say is much better than beginning with a blank slate.

Find the balance between speed and comprehension

I also found this tip here, and although it seems a bit obvious, it’s quite important. Speed-reading, skimming and revising means nothing if you’re not actually comprehending anything you’re reading. It’s not such a problem if you’re not taking in 100% of everything (if you wanted to do that, you wouldn’t be speed-reading), since your goal is probably to review and remember the most important bits. Be sure to strike a balance.

Get rid of distractions

This also seems really obvious, but it’s essential. I find that the reason why fully reading articles takes me so long is simply because I’m constantly distracted. Similarly, skimming will take you much longer (and be a lot less effective) if you’re distracted. This article suggests finding a quite place or getting some earplugs. I’d suggest you do one or both of those things anyway, since any kind of revision should be distraction-free.

For more tips, take a look at these articles:

Learn How to Read 10 Books Per Week (LinkedIn blog)

How to Learn Speed Reading (WikiHow)

Exam Advice from Helen Green, Qualitative Study Adviser for the TLC

In the first of several guest posts from LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre this term, Helen Green, qualitative study adviser, will share some of her top exam tips. She is one of three of the TLC’s learning developers who will be sharing some helpful advice on exam preparation. 

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1. Practise writing under exam conditions.  Daily.

You have years and years of experience (and, clearly, success!) in reading texts, writing notes, reviewing your notes, etc. You likely have drastically less experience in selecting, understanding and interpreting an exam question - then formulating a coherent and well-supported response, using a pen and paper - all in one hour / 45 minutes / 30 minutes.  This is a key skill required for exams, so practise, one or two essays a day, for example, within the time allotted in your exams.

2. Resist the notion that you don’t yet “know enough” to practise writing exam essays.

You have been in lectures, classes, workshops, etc., now for 20 weeks. You know plenty! It can be very daunting to make early attempts at exam essay writing but the sooner you begin the more you can assess your own work, improve your argument-making skills, and become more comfortable with thinking and writing under exam conditions. 

 3. Learn from your own work.

Begin by writing a few exam essays, then read what you have written. Consider the strong points of your drafts and decide where they need more work - in terms of structure, more details, clearer theoretical foundations, a greater array of perspectives, more evidence or examples, perhaps some counter-evidence, etc. Then review your class materials and readings for the points that will strengthen your essay. Finally, a few days later, try writing a practice essay for the same or similar question again, and compare your two drafts. This way, your writing practice and assessment of your work drive the review of notes, reading, slides, etc. (and not the other way around).

The Teaching and Learning Centre’s Learning World has many more ideas and tips for exam preparation and learning development in general. And its Learning development programme this term includes several events on last minute revision and stress management. 

For more information, assistance, tips and advice, visit the Teaching and Learning Centre in KSW 5.07, email tlc@lse.ac.uk, or contact Reception at 020 7852 3627

Managing Stress During Exams

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In a recent post, I mentioned a few revision tips from the LSE Student Counselling Service’s  Exam Stress Management Tips leaflet. Now, using that same leaflet, I’m going to talk about a few of their suggested tips (with a little of my own advice) for when you’re actually taking an exam. Here they are:

1. Don’t try to learn new material the day of the exam

The leaflet suggests reviewing key points before entering your exam rather than actually learning new material the day of. It’s much better to time your studies well ahead of time, get sufficient sleep the night before, eat a healthy breakfast, and review key material right before an exam. The alternative (staying up all night, skipping breakfast, and learning material right before the exam) is less effective, more stressful, and unhealthy.

2. Make sure you understand the question, and answer it however works for you.

This seems obvious, but it’s incredibly important to make sure you understand the question before you start to answer anything. Make sure that everything you write is supporting your response to the question asked (if it’s not, you’re wasting valuable time), and try and find out what kind of planning works best for you ahead of time. For some people, writing out an outline as soon as you get the question is helpful, whereas for other, it’s helpful to just write as you think. Take some practice exams ahead of time to figure out what’s best for you.

3. Relax.

This is a lot easier said than done, but make sure you’re doing everything you can to remain relaxed. If that means treating yourself to a good breakfast before the exam or taking deep breaths throughout the exam, be sure to do those things. All the little things help. One of the best suggestions in the leaflet is to avoid perfectionism. If you know what you’re talking about and you’ve got a lot of great information, try not to worry too much about other less important things (like confusing punctuation). Just know the material, get it on the paper, and try and keep calm. 

4. Do something fun after!

For some people, this was already a plan. For others, looking over revision notes, stressing about wrong answers, and discussing exam stress with friends is more likely. While it may be tempting to dwell on stress, try and do something fun afterwards. Go out with friends, watch your favorite show, go to sleep early… anything that’s not going to perpetuate stress. If you’ve got an exam the next day, you might not have that luxury, but at least reward yourself with something small. Keep in mind that exam season is temporary and your wellbeing is not! 

For more tips, read the Exam Stress Management Tips leaflet from the LSE Student Counselling Service, or check out these sites for more basic relaxing ideas during revision:

How to Relax Before a Final Exam in College (WikiHow)

How to Relax Before Final Exams (eHow)

How to Combat Procrastination

So, I’ve got a paper due, and I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop for two days doing absolutely nothing productive. It’s incredibly frustrating. Since I can’t seem to bring myself to write my paper quite yet, I decided to at least turn it into something useful: a blog post about procrastination and how to avoid it. You’ve probably experienced this at some point, too, because I think it’s pretty much impossible to avoid it. Here are a few tips to keep procrastination at bay while you focus on revision:

1. Get the SelfControl App

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I mentioned this in an earlier post, but SelfControl a really excellent app for people who are really unable to keep themselves away from the major distractions caused by facebook, twitter, email, and everything else on the internet. I used it once and hated it because it worked so well, so I think that tells you something. If you’re having reservations about downloading it, that might be your lack of self control talking, so definitely try it out. 

2. Try a new study method

In case you didn’t catch it, I made a post a few weeks ago about the Workstation Popcorn study method. It’s actually an excellent strategy, so I highly recommend it. If it’s not really for you, or if you’re more comfortable studying at home, try out an alternative like the Pomodoro TechniqueTomato Timer is a free website that employs this technique, and it’s primarily focused on using a timer and taking short breaks in between each timed session of productivity. It might even be useful to consider mixing this with the SelfControl application if you’re having serious trouble focusing.

3. Study with someone else

This is hit or miss, because I know that sometimes it’s extremely distracting to work with someone else, but sometimes its necessary to have someone push you in the right direction. This definitely depends on who you choose to study with, though, because some friends can be helpful while others might keep you from your work even more. Think about what works best for you, and consider contacting a particularly studious friend to help you focus.

Managing Stress During Revision

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I recently came across a really great leaflet from the LSE Student Counselling Service called Exam Stress Management Tips. Since the advice it offers is so fantastic, I decided to break it down a bit and add a bit of my own take on it. Exam season is so stressful, and it’s really important to take care of yourself and organize your time in the most effective way. Here are a few tips to keep you as stress-free and prepared as possible.

1. Schedule your time wisely

Instead of waiting until the last minute, be sure to schedule your time wisely. You’ve got quite a few weeks to study for exams (depending on your programme, of course), so if you start now, you’re already doing yourself a favor. Nothing scream “stress” like a last minute all-nighter before an exam because you failed to prepare ahead of time. Try to make a (realistic!!) list of days and times you intend to study for specific subjects, and make sure it includes some breaks and time for relaxing. If the schedule is balanced and you can stick to what you’ve planned, you’ll thank yourself later. 

2. Get motivated

I find it incredibly difficult to get things done without the pressure of a looming deadline. When I have something due in a few weeks, it’s hard to get myself going on it unless I’ve set a positive reward at the end (that is, aside from having a completed paper). In an effort to motivate myself, I’ve started rewarding finished work with a trip to a park or a television show. It may seem a bit silly, but it’s might work for you if you try it out. Warning: this system requires lots of self-control. The leaflet specifically recommends a system of rewards for achieved goals, beginning with the more interesting subjects, establishing a routine, and reminding yourself why you’re here in the first place- for the qualification!

3. Learn actively

The handout emphasizes the importance of revising in a meaningful way. This requires taking notes, testing yourself on the material as you write and revise, and creating helpful reminders for use during your exams. Highlighting all the important sentences and taking basic notes can be helpful, but they’re not going to take you to the next step of actually understanding the material.

4. SLEEP!

I mentioned this in a few other posts, but sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body. When you’re stressed out and you’ve got a ton of stuff to do, it’s easier to eliminate sleep than it is to eliminate a few hours of studying or a meal. That makes it pretty tempting to skip out on a few hours of sleep in favor of doing some last minute revising. While this might be helpful in some ways (I’ve done it many times), it’s detrimental to your overall health, and it’s not going to help you the next day during your exam when you can’t keep your eyes open. Check out this post on the importance of sleep for more information. 

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for tips for the day of an exam, ranging from how to deal with last minute panic and how best to get comfortable. Good luck revising!

#LSEWellbeing

MA103 Help Session - LSESU Actuarial Society

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Does Abstract Maths (MA103) feel, well, too abstract? Do you need a friendly push to help you prepare yourself for the upcoming examinations in Summer Term? Drop by next Tuesday (29 April) for the LSESU Actuarial Society’s second MA103 Help Session!

The help session will be coordinated by former president of the society, Run Xian Tan. In the session, he will be covering past-year papers (specifically Year 2013), while providing some problem-solving techniques that will definitely give you an edge in answering examination questions.

Do sign up for this help session by filling up your details at this Google Form here as soon as possible to avoid letdowns, as we have LIMITED spaces! It’s free-of-charge for LSESU Actuarial Society members, but there’ll be a small charge of £1 for non-members.

P/S: Run Xian scored a whopping 99 for his MA103 last year, so yeah, rest assured you’ll be in safe hands during this session :).

Links:
Facebook Event Page
Sign-up link (in case you missed the one above)