One of the most important things you can do while you studying is to make sure you stay organised. While you may have some one-off assessments throughout your class or course duration, chances are you will have a whole loads of assessment grouped together at the end of each year or semester, which may leave you feeling a little overwhelmed. These assessments could include a mix of things to prepare for, such as exams to revise for, essays to write, and projects to hand in.
While you may get away with completing things as you go along as other times of the year, during your assessment period it is really important to make sure you write an effective study plan. Not only will this stop you potentially leaving things till the last minute, or forgetting about things entirely, but it should also stop you getting as stressed out, as all your work will be clearly mapped out for you.
Work Out the Outline
The first thing you'll want to do when creating a study plan is to put in all the things you know you have coming up in the next few weeks, so you can see how much time you have left to play with. Ideally you'll want to create your study plan from whenever you are sitting down to write it until the day of your last exam or assessment hand in. This means you can see how your time will be spent really clearly, even if you're covering a period of a couple of months.
The first thing to write down is all of your assessment dates. Mark in the day and time of your exams, as well as any hand in dates for essays, dates of final presentations, or final group work sessions you have to attend. This is the bare bones of your study plan, and lets you see how your other time is going to work around it.
Next you'll want to mark in all the things you have to do in that time period that aren't study related. This could be attending other classes, going to work, or any other appointments you already have booked in. You're obviously still going to have a life outside of studying, so you'll need to make sure you leave enough time for that too.
Now you have the skeleton plan of how your time will be spend, you can start working out your study plan properly.
Plan When to Study
Now that you have a clear outline of your time, you know exactly when you can fit your studying in around the rest of the things life throws at you. There are a few points you'll want to consider when mapping out exactly when you want to study.
- When are your assessments are due? You may have an exam in a couple of months that you don't feel you need to worry about as much right now, but you may have an essay which is due in two weeks which will obviously require more of your attention. It may be that you need to focus all your studying for those first two weeks around the essay to make sure you are dedicating enough time to it. Whereas if you have an exam that isn't for a little while yet, you can see that you can plan out spending a little bit of time revising for it everyday between now and the exam so you feel confident you're covering all the material.
- How challenging are you assessments? If you have two exams on the same day, you would think you would want to spend the same amount of time in the lead up to the exams studying for them both. However, you may feel totally confident in one area of study and a bit more worried about the other. While you'll still want to make sure you are actively studying for both exams, you might want to spilt your time so you're spend 25% on the topic you feel happy about and 75% on the one you feel needs more work. This means you're still working on both of them, but just focussing a little more on the area you feel weaker in so you should hopefully be up to speed and feel confident going into the exam.
- How taxing will the studying activity be? When you're planning out when you're going to study, it's also important to look at what you're going to be studying. All your studying activities will not requite the same level of concentration or work, so this is an important thing to take into consideration. If you have to do things like re-writing study notes, this may be a quick activity that you could fit in even when your concentration level isn't at it's best. However, if you're sitting down to write 200 words for the body of your essay, you're going to need to be on top form to make sure you produce your best work. For something like this, you'll want to make sure you slot it in during the time of day you feel most productive, as well as giving yourself a generous chunk of your time to make sure you get it finished.
Every study plan will be different, as you know what works best for yourself, and therefore will know what times and days will suit your working style. It's important to consider that you shouldn't just be marking out a whole day to each activity every week just to feel like you have it all planned out, as some things may require more or less attention than others.
Write it Down
Once you have your study plan worked out, write up a proper version so it's all neat and organised. You may want to make up several version so you always have one with you. You could make a poster sized one for your wall or to stick on a whiteboard so you can always see what you should be doing, as well as a pocket version for your bag so you can check it on the go.
Even the act of making up a study plan can help you feel more relaxed about revising, as seeing all your work planned out like this can make you feel more in control.
To make the activity more fun, make sure you have some nice supplies to work with. This could be buying some nice coloured paper to write you plan on, or using some posh felt tip pens to write on it with. Anything that makes the experience more fun and exciting for you is a good thing.
You may also want to do things like colour coding your plan for easy reference. You could do thing like group your assessment dates in one colour, while other things like work can be a second colour, and finally you can split all your different classes into different colours so you can easily see what's coming up.
Writing a study plan may seem like a waste of precious time if you're already stressing about exams and assessment hand-ins, but it is well worth taking a couple of hours to get it done. Not only will it help you stay organised, it will alleviate the stress your experiencing if you're trying to get everything done at once, and let you see exactly how much work you have to do. It may not even be nearly as much work as you thought! It also prevents your forgetting about a hand-in date until it's passed, or suddenly remembering you have an exam tomorrow when it's already 11pm!
One major part of studying effectively is staying in control of what you need to do, and a study plan is the perfect way to do this. Spending a little time planning your time out before you jump in will prove highly beneficial in the long run, and will soon become part of your studying routine!