“Well, that won’t get the TMA written will it?!”

So I feel I need a little time out (or avoidance) before I go into the challenging matter that was my next module, A200: Exploring History Medieval to Modern 1400 to 1900 to give it its full title.  I’ll do that by talking a little of TMA/studying avoidance which, to be honest, I’m bloody fantastic at.  Of course the degree which I should have received would have been in TMA avoidance.  This I particularly excelled in.  TMAs (tutor marked assignments aka essays) were the bane of my (and I’m sure every OU student’s) life and they came around approximately every 6 or 7 weeks.

At the beginning of my time with the OU there were 7 TMAs in each module, by the end they’d gone down to 5, but I shed blood, sweat and tears over each and every one.   Throughout all my studying I always stuck to the same formula, which was to be 2 weeks ahead of the timetable, which would have left me time to catch up if I’d needed to.  But I was so anal about sticking to my studying timetable that I hardly ever got behind.  Looking back I think I only got behind on one TMA, when I went up to Edinburgh for a few days to see Sarah at the Fringe and I had an extension for a few days.

This wasn’t because I was particularly studious or anything like that, I just had an inner timetable of my own and got quite agitated and stressed if I got behind on it…so I made sure I didn’t get behind.

So that used to mean that I was usually doing the TMAs 2 weeks before I needed to and I’d give myself a whole week to get it done.  But each and every time I left it till the last possible moment to avoid actually working on writing the bloody things.  Which is why I was so amazingly fantastic at TMA avoidance.  Internet surfing took the place of doing any work at all on my TMA and around Christmastime I used to get some great online shopping done!

I remember one time when Mike caught me on Facebook instead of doing some TMA work.  It was back when I was doing A200, the module I hated anyway.  He came into the room I was studying in, saw Facebook open on my laptop and said “well that won’t get the TMA written will it?!”  The veil dropped and I saw red.  I verbally let rip at him (sorry Mike!), and shouted at him told him about my inner timetable and he’s never ever said anything remotely like that ever again, no matter what’s on my laptop at TMA time!! 😂😂

(At this point I feel I should add that after having read this blog post Mike pointed out that it doesn’t portray the dripping sarcasm with which he made the comment.  This is indeed true!!)

Ah good times!!

9 Nov 2013 - TMA time
A typical TMA scene

Something I struggled with was the word count.  Lots of people go amazingly over the word count while drafting TMAs and then have to cut lots out but I never ever did, my trouble was in not writing enough.  Having said that, I once came a cropper on a TMA for actually going over the 10% rule, I even typed the amount of words out on my TMA sheet but I didn’t suss what I’d done as I just wanted to get rid of the bugger and unfortunately lost marks for it.

That was TMA04 in A330 – Myth in the Greek & Roman Worlds.  But it was the next TMA05 in A330 that nearly ended it all for me.  This was the final TMA in the penultimate module for my degree.  This came before the EMA (End of Course Assessment) on A330 and I just couldn’t find anything left in me for writing an essay.  I couldn’t give it anymore than I’d already given and for reasons I’ll go into more when I write about A330, I was completely done.  And dusted.  Cutting a very long story short (for now!) after my wonderful tutor on A330, JP, managed to talk me round, I finished it and went on to do well in my EMA and also A340, my final module, the next year.

This is a little ditty called The TMA Song, by Surf Teddy which used to go around the OU forums, written by a student on a Social Science module, which pretty much sums up how students feel about the TMAs – showing I most definitely wasn’t alone!!  Seems Surf Teddy’s got some cracking TMA avoidance skills of his own.


Credit: Eddie @financeacademy

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