As the semester is winding down, some of you maybe be experiencing more stress than usual due to final assignments, presentations, labs or exams. While this can be a tiring time, there are many things you can do in preparation for final exams to reduce stress levels. One thing that I have found extremely helpful over the past few years is to create a solid study plan. I have found that the construction of a study plan has cut down the bulk of my stress and has allowed me to perform better on exams than when I haven't implemented a plan. They say that organization is half the battle in university, so what better way to get organized than a study plan!
If you are thinking you would like to experience the benefits a study plan can provide you with this exam season, please consider the following things while creating your masterpiece!
1. Start early.
When creating a study plan, the most important step is to start the plan in advance. For instance, final exam dates will usually be released a month before the exam period, so this is when I would suggest starting your plan!
Now when I say start your plan, this doesn’t mean you need to devote time to serious studying a whole month in advance, it just means that it is time to start planning which days you will study and what you will study on each day. Everyone studies in different ways and paces, so it's really up to you when you think is best to start seriously studying for your exams. I, personally, will begin my studying about three weeks in advance, as I find that I work best with this time frame and feel the most prepared. Whether it’s one, two, three or four weeks in advance, remember that timing is the most crucial step to a solid study plan!
2. Be realistic.
Another important point to keep in mind when creating your study plan is to be realistic. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of becoming organized and plan full study days, each day of the week, with little break time. I fall victim to this point, as sometimes I create my study plan with nothing else in mind, but remember you do have other responsibilities than just studying! Remember to take into consideration the other duties you have throughout the week such as attending classes, working a possible job, eating, drinking water, sleeping, exercising and socializing.
It’s also important to factor in unexpected circumstances that might not allow you to study for a designated day, so it’s suggested to leave a few open days at the end before your exams as a buffering period just in case you need the extra time. Remember that you are only human and life happens, so while your study plan needs to be solid, it also needs to be flexible!
3. Be consistent.
When creating your study plan, if possible, try to plan studying each day around the same time. This isn’t a crucial step in creating a study plan, as I understand some people’s schedules look different each day, but if you can study at the same time, I highly recommend it! We are creatures of habit, so if you are able to devote the same time slot each day to studying this will become a positive habit and you will become accustomed to this time.
4. Set a location.
Be careful where you choose to study, as the location will impact your focus and attention during your study time! When choosing a location to study, feel free to choose a few different ones so you don’t have to study in the same spot each time, but be cautious on where you choose. Make sure to choose an area that has minimal distractions or interruptions. I would advise choosing a location outside your room, as being in your room can lead to quite a few different distractions (like watching Netflix in your bed). I always found that studying at a dining room or kitchen table was the best spot for me as lying in bed studying would tempt me to take a nap (or sleep until the next the day!).
5. Stick to it.
So, you have created a beautiful, flawless study plan, and now it’s time to begin! This is without a doubt the hardest step of the process, as it will make or break the benefits a study plan can give you. Sticking to your study plan is vital because if you don’t, the stress-reducing aspect of the plan might work in the opposite way.
To help you stick to your study plan, think of small rewards to give yourself after completing the study session for that day. These rewards can be something like making your favourite meal for dinner or watching that next episode on Netflix you’ve been thinking about since yesterday. While sticking to your plan can seem difficult at the start, if you stick with it each day, it will eventually turn into a habit. If your study plan follows the above guidelines, especially the ‘be realistic’ one, you should have no problem sticking to your plan and crushing your final exams!
Well there you have it, five ways to make a solid, attainable study plan! I wish you all the best with your final exams. Happy studying!
Have any other tips on how to create a solid study plan? Write them in the comments below!