How to use your study timetable & planner, develop good study habits and our tips for effective study
The saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” rings true in so many aspects of life, and none more so than studying for exams. Having a well made study timetable can make a world of difference in how well students prepare for their exams.
A common misconception is that students should spend as much time as possible studying for exams. Preparing for Chrstimas, Summer, Junior or Leaving Certificate exams doesn’t have to take spending countless hours at a desk. Managing time and studying efficiently can be achieved with a clear plan.
Below we’ll cover some of our top tips for using a study timetable and developing good study-habits.
Often students tend to spend the most time studying for the subjects they enjoy which, in a sense, is counter-intuitive. We are often better at doing things that we enjoy, and less willing to spend time on tasks we find challenging.
Looking at their present workload (including upcoming deadlines and subjects that need more focus), students can dedicate the right amount of time to each area, ensuring each of their subjects get the necessary amount of attention.
Students should be realistic with their plans, and how much time they will actually study for.
We recommend that students plan out the exact topics/chapters/exam questions they aim to cover when making out their study timetable. Simply listing subjects to study then means that students need to plan at the beginning of each study session, which takes time away from actually studying.
Breaking subjects down into bite sized chunks also makes it a little easier to take on those areas students find most challenging.
Ease yourself in
Studying takes time, and to use study time effectively, we advise that students begin studying early in the year. Starting with short blocks of thirty minutes to an hour at a time is manageable and can be built upon from there.
Developing good study habits and “study fitness” before it’s too late in the year, students often tend to be more effective with their time and find studying less draining when exam season rolls around
Get into the routine
When students put studying off until when exam time is coming up, they often find it difficult to get into the process. Maintaining a consistent study routine throughout the year makes study a regular part of the day rather than a chore.
Schedule time off
The pressures of exam time can take a toll on students and family life too, so it is important that students are able to unwind and spend time away from the books. Burning out is one of the most common reasons that students lose study motivation, but it can be avoided by managing your workload.
We recommend that students schedule free time for extracurricular activities and socialising in their study planner. Breaks away from the books which are visible in their schedule provide a “finish line” to work towards, and actually help students to refocus once they sit down for their next session.
While it is best to stick to your study timetable, it is important to know that things can change and you may miss a session and have to re-plan. You should allow for some flexibility and know that it is okay if you miss a session. Things come up and we need to take a extra long breaks to ensure our heads are clear. You will perform best when you are relaxed so don’t sweat the small stuff.
How to study more effectively: Dos and Don’ts
- Study in an environment that you are comfortable (this doesn’t mean in bed). Sit at a proper chair with a desk in an area with no distraction if possible. If there is no dedicated study space at home, coordinate with your family when you can block off some quiet time in the busier parts of the house.
- Stick to your schedule timing. It is easy to get carried away when studying a particular subject, but that means that you neglect the others that you planned to cover that day. Flexibility within reason is great, but know when to move on.
- Become an active learner. Reading notes is great at the beginning but, testing yourself or teaching someone else can really help to consolidate your understanding of the material.
- Keep healthy. Exam time is stressful, and when we are stressed it is easy to reach for junk food and lounge around. In reality, doing the opposite is best for maintaining a healthy mind! Fresh air and a balanced diet will leave your mind and body feeling ready to go.
- Go on your phone. There are so many excuses for having your phone near you while studying but the temptation to scroll will overcome even the most mentally strong at some point! Your best bet is to leave it in a separate room and use it during breaks if you feel the need.
- Listen to music. Music can help to block out distractions but students should be honest with themselves about whether it helps them or not. Our vote would be to go without.
- Multitask. When exams get close, things can get a bit frantic. Students should avoid trying to cover everything, and just focus on one subject at a time in order to use their time as efficiently as possible.
- Cram. Cramming is very easily avoided by starting to study earlier in the year and is a highly ineffective way of studying which just increases stress levels.
Are you looking for support in a specific subject or in the lead up to exam time? Our top-rated tutors are on hand to help you with whatever your learning needs are. Simply contact us and we will be in touch shortly to discuss your situation.