Planning out study time:
- Draw up a study timetable (see samples below) and block in all activities, work, lectures, and any household or other responsibilities you may have. Include meal times and travel time. Be realistic. This should be an actual timetable, which is possible, not some ideal that can never be achieved. Make enough copies to cover all the weeks leading up to your report, exams, or assessment.
- Work out your most effective study times. When do you study best? Morning, afternoon or evening?
- Consider: Which subjects need the most study and revision? Estimate how many hours you think you need for each subject and try to match this with the hours available in your weekly planner.
- Block in some study times, preferably 2-4 hours at a time, with 5-10 minutes’ break every 40-50 minutes.
- Start at exam periods or due dates for assignments and work backwards, blocking in more study time in the relevant subject closer to the exam/due date. Make sure that you prepare for each exam over several days and don’t fill up the last few days too heavily. Also put in any events which may affect your study times, such as birthdays, social events and work functions.
- You may want to plan in detail for each study session. Write down which lecture/topic/text you will be researching/ reviewing. This way, you can ensure that you will cover all the required information in the times you have allocated. Consider: What do I want to achieve in this session? (eg: summary/ notes / list of definitions/ language exercise/ essay plan/ list of resources/ timeline). Where will I need to study? Do I need access to a computer/ the internet/ the library?
- If you have some smaller amounts of time available for study, consider how they could be used: skim reading an article, proofing a draft, sorting a bibliography, organising reference cards, etc. Travel time on public transport can also be used for reading.
Start using your study timetable. See how well it works. What did you leave out? It can be changed as you go, but do this consciously: look at what is not working, which areas you need more time in and change the timetable. This is much better than just throwing the timetable away. Then you can be sure that you will still cover all the material you need to.
How I set up my notes:
Remember, stay focused and keep your eye on the prize!
Anna “Jo-Jo” Castillo
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