Writing a Study Plan starts with prioritizing your subjects. A new plan must be written every week.
Try and focus on the following:
- Generate a blank plan so it can be copied
- Be realistic
- Factor in breaks
- Prioritise what’s important
- Study first before doing assignments
By generating a visual it is easier to accomplish the workload. The nearer you get to exams the more study will be required. If you can keep on top of the workload by sticking to your plan then all will be well. This is the approach I used to produce the best possible outcome.
generate a blank plan
First things first, draw up a weekly plan in Word. Monday - Sunday, and leave them all blank. Your study plan will change from week to week depending on tests and assignments.
If you save your blank plan, then it can be printed week to week as you need them. Your study plan should start about an hour after school ends, to give yourself a chance to rest and have something to eat.
Depending on your week, and extracurricular activities, this needs to be pencilled in on a Sunday evening so you know exactly what your study plan is for the week ahead.
So everyone likes to think they can do up a plan and stick to it. But the reality is that doesn’t always work out.
People are busy and life gets in the way. It is important to continue with sports and hobbies that you are involved in as everyone needs some down time.
So when you are filling out your study plan on a sunday, this must be factored in. We also have to consider the time element. Long hours of study are no good to you if you are not retaining the information.
Like anything, study hours are best built up over time. Start small and early on, so by the time your exams arrive you are able to do long stretches without crashing.
Are your goals realistic? You need to think about your overall grades. If you are not a 4.0 GPA then chances are you are not suddenly going to become this, however hard work and long study hours are only going to improve your GPA.
factor in breaks
The mind is an amazing thing. But like everything it needs time to relax. On average you will need to take a break every 40 minutes. This is the optimum focus time for studying.
So break your plan into 40 minute slots and then 5 minutes of a break. Get up from your desk and walk around the house or library to refocus. Try and include water and brain food, ie nuts, seeds, fruit.
Avoid high sugary foods that will only boost you for a small amount of time and then will make your energy levels crash. Not every break should be food related. Try and alternate between food and checking your phone.
But be careful not to get sucked into your social media and before you know it you have wasted a precious hour!
If you have stuck to your plan and are on top of your work then you also need a day off to recharge. Yes, a whole day! Don’t feel guilty about taking a day to yourself. It’s good to reward long study hours.
It’s also something to work towards each week. But obviously the nearer you get to your final exams this may not be a full day but a few hours. At this stage the end is in sight and soon you will have lots of free time
prioritise what's important
Some subjects on your course are going to need more work than others. This is understandable. It’s rare that everyone is good at every subject. Go back over your class tests, or end of month assignments.
The ones that are not getting high grades are the ones you need to be studying the most. This sounds like a no brainer, but it’s harder to sit and study a subject you struggle with or don’t much like.
So we have to force ourselves to put in that extra effort. The easiest way I find is to study a chapter or module and then take a quiz. If I don’t score 8+/10 then I need to go back and study it some more.
study first before doing assignments
To motivate myself to study, I found that by studying first when I come home from school was the best way. By setting out what I had to study and completing it and then starting on homework and assignments made things easier and more manageable.
I know my homework had to be done, along with any essays or assignments so I couldn’t back out of them after a couple of hours of study.
If it was in reverse, it is very easy to convince yourself you will leave it for the evening and do double tomorrow. That, never works out.
So by disciplining yourself to study first, you will find you feel great about yourself and your study plan. Each day you are achieving and able to tick off items on your Study ‘To Do’ list.
So by following these simple steps, you can put an effective study plan in place to guide you to success. The earlier you start with your plan the quicker it becomes part of your norm.
By putting your plan in place it becomes part of your routine, so it won’t be such a chore to sit down and study. Time will fly by and before you know it your finals will be over and you will be so grateful you stuck with your plan.
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Holly Cunningham is a college student. She is studying a Bioscience degree.
She has a great work ethic and very driven and self motivated.
I hope that some of my insights in to study and college life will help with any issues you might have.