Many HSC and Uni subjects test essay writing skills as much as they test subject content.

Success is not based on what you have learned, or your intuitive understanding of a subject, or your depth of knowledge, but on how well you can answer a specific question in a very short amount of time, according to an accepted framework.

This is where the Australian firm ‘The Research Den‘ steps in.

Director Bronwyn Hall has a degree in Social Science and a Masters in Anthropology, but now specialises in assisting HSC and Univeristy students to write better essays. She has published two books, ‘The Night Before Essay Planner’ (that sounds up my alley) and ‘The High School Essay Planner’, and her site provides a number of resources to assist organised people and crammers alike.

The Research Den‘ can also provide individual assistance for a particularly troublesome project.

And now ‘The Night Before Essay Planner‘ is available as an iPhone app, providing a practical ‘workbook’ to guide your essay so that it’s on time and on the money.

Essay Planner - The Research Den

(Oliver, sounds like you need this before Tuesday)

As Merlin Mann says, “Buying new running shows is more fun than actually running


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What you need for Uni : Part Two


Is there something you need to remember?

Evernote is the king of note taking apps.

Evernote allows you to –

  • Type your lecture notes in Evernote. 
  • Take a photo of a Powerpoint slide. (the text is recognised by the app, so you can search for it later)
  • Record a voice message ( and have it converted to text)
  • Clip and save a webpage or email

Evernote is available for Mac, iPhone, iPad and Windows. You can create as many notebooks as you need. All the Notes you take are stored ‘in the cloud’, which means every device on which you have Evernote is automatically ‘synced’. So take a photo on your iPhone, and it is available immediately on your iPad and MacBook. Take lecture notes with your iPad, and they will be available on your iMac back in your room.

I use Evernote extensively, especially for ‘What I Learnt Today’. For example, I can dictate an idea I hear in the car and know that it will be available wherever I need it. Or start an article on my iPad at Il Portino, edit at work, and post it from home that night.

There is a video which acts as an introduction to Evernote. There are also a number of plug-ins and attachments that add capability available from ‘the trunk‘. For example, Voice2Note will convert your dictated spoken voice notes into text.

What’s more, Evernote is free!

Evernote - Evernote A completely new version of the Evernote iPhone app was released yesterday.

 It is available in the iTunes App Store as is the iPad version.

You can download Mac and PC versions from the Evernote site.


What I Learnt On 4th March in other years

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What you Need for Uni – Part One


Today is the first day of University! (were they the longest holidays in history, or what?)

Over the last few weeks, Alex Kidman and the readers of the excellent Lifehacker site have complied a 2011 University Success Guide

The series of articles include –

Have you got any tips for our Fresher Friends? Let us know in the comments and we’ll compile our own Uni Success Guide.

Tip for Fresher Shanks – Don’t lose your ID on the first night in the pub if you want to go to the pub on the second night.


What I Learnt On 1st March in other years

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Today I learnt that nothing changes much at Sydney University, just as the motto* implies
My daughter Alex enrolled there today, 29 years after I did.


More food outlets, but same food, unfortunately.


Same Marxist Collective, and it appears the exact same people handing out pamphlets.


Same political posters – though now Labor are the baddies!



Same student union functions with the same attraction – cheap beer.


The Jacaranda tree remains remarkably healthy in the main quad – Tradition is that if you haven’t started studying by the time it blooms – you’re too late (Got that, Alex!)


And all paths still lead to Johns College.


I also learnt that you need the very useful SRC Counter Course Handbook **before** you enrol in your subject choices, not afterwards.



*Sidero Mens Eadem Mutato is the motto of Sydney University- “The constellations change, but the mind is the same” -ie “The traditions of the older universities of the Northern Hemisphere are continued here in the Southern.”

What I Learnt On 28th January in other years

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