Students facing into a new term can feel overwhelmed. Going back to school after Christmas, they are full of good intentions regarding their study, especially if they are in a big exam year. Elaborate study plans are drawn up, colour co-ordinated and printed out. They are going to spend hours studying and it’s going to be so easy – until the first wobble comes. Suddenly they are overwhelmed, annoyed with themselves for not sticking to the plan and it goes by the wayside.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. With a little more thought, a really successful and flexible study plan can be put in place. Here are my 6 easy tips:
There is no point in setting out on a journey without knowing where you want to arrive at! Write down the reasons why you are creating the study plan (yes, ‘because I was made to’ is a reason) and then write down the goals you want to achieve. Imagine yourself achieving those goals, feel how good you feel having achieved those goals, see yourself beaming from ear to ear and hear everyone congratulating you on your success. Make it as real as possible and ensure that your goals are true to you and what you want to achieve. Review them regularly to make sure that you are staying true to your plan.
Preparation is key so to make planning really easy gather your props in advance. I recommend the following
This is really important because, for a study plan, I like to use a combination of an Online and Paper diary. The Online Diary is for the big picture stuff while the paper diary is for the detail. Let me explain; set up Google Calendar and block off chunks of time, using different colours e.g. Green for School. Firstly block off time for School, travel, eating, TV, breaks, Sports etc. It is really important to schedule in downtime and sports as these help the body and brain relax, switch off and regenerate, making us more alert. After that add in the time blocks for study periods. This visual representation will make it really easy to see how efficient you need to be with your study time. It can also be accessed on a smartphone, avoiding scheduling conflicts. Set up reminders or alerts on your phone to take breaks & when to start studying. Technology makes all of this so easy.
Once you have created the Big Picture, you will know how much study time you have each day. Now it’s time to get down into the detail. I recommend breaking time down into units of 30 minutes – 25 minutes studying, 5 minutes on a break. This optimises the concentration levels for the brain. Consider your subjects and break them down into units – e.g. one chapter = 1 unit. Now decide how many time units each chapter unit will need. So if your history course has 25 chapters and it takes 1 hour to study/revise each chapter then you will need 50-time units to cover the course. This very quickly allows the student to realise how much time they need per subject and how efficient they need to be with their time.
As soon as they have this, they then use the paper diary to fill in the time units in their study blocks with the subjects. Writing things down adds a kinaesthetic element to the plan and studies show that we are more inclined to do things when they are written down.
Set up spreadsheets to track the chapter units that you need to do. This way you know what has been covered and when you revised it. It also quickly shows what still needs to be done and will allow you to amend your time units if needed to ensure everything gets covered/revised sufficiently.
This tip is kind of a catch-all but I didn’t want to have more than 6 tips, otherwise setting up the Study Plan would have been too overwhelming when in fact it is really easy. These mini-tips are short and are the icing on the cake.
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