Do you want good grades but you’re a little lazy? Whether you’re studying on a college programme for a career qualification or just for personal interest, you’ll want to make a success of it. You’ve probably already figured out that having a plan helps you to study consistently, rather than giving up, or cramming in hours of work just before exams.
Studying is an important part of academic success. Whether you’re doing a marketing or an effective communication course, you must have a schedule in place. However, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time to study for every subject we need to study for. One way to ensure studying success is to create a solid study schedule.
Here are a few tips on how to stick with your study schedule and pass your exams with flying colours.
Many of us are prone to overestimating how much we can get done – and studying is a high-energy, intense activity which requires a lot of concentration. You simply can’t focus at that level for hours at a time. Sometimes, being realistic about your studying plans might mean looking at the other commitments in your life. Do you need to ditch something else in order to have time to study effectively? Can you cut down on social activities to give yourself a couple of weeknights free for studying?
Find your best time of day
Are you a lark? Some people are at their best in the morning, before the demands of the day have crowded in. If that’s you, then try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier so that you can spend this high-focus time on your studying. Or are you a night owl? Without the constraints of a school day, you can choose to study late at night, if that suits you. For parents, this can be a good time because children are in bed and the house is quiet. Even if you think you know what time of day’s best for you, try experimenting for a week or two. Perhaps your lunch hour is a great opportunity to study. Or maybe you can drive to a coffee shop on the way home from work and study there until a certain time.
Have a place to study
As well as finding the right time to study, you’ll have to find the right place. Your studying environment can make all the difference when it comes to sticking to your plans. You’ll want to find a place where you’re not likely to be interrupted and where there are no noises intruding. Make sure you have enough space to spread out any studying materials that you’re using. If your schedule is very packed, you’ll probably want to study somewhere in or very near your home, so that you don’t spend much time simply getting there. If you have more time, you could try picking a study location a little further away – this can be useful because once you’re there, you’ll be much less tempted to wander back home the moment you get bored.
Mix things up
It’s easy to get bored with a study plan if you’re constantly working on the same things. Rather than trying to trawl through the whole of a particular topic in one week, try mixing up your plan a little. Working on one topic one day and something completely different the next will help you stay energised and fresh. You can also try a mix of different learning methods. There’s no right way to study. Consider taking notes from books as you’re reading. Or you can read for half an hour, then write down notes from what you remember.
Build in flexibility
How often have you made a perfect study plan, only to have it fall apart as soon as something unexpected cropped up? Life happens – and sometimes you’ll have to cancel a planned study session in order to deal with an interruption or an emergency. Be prepared for this in advance. When you draw up your studying schedule, allow some spare time which you can use if you need to catch up. Even if your week goes perfectly, you may find that some areas of study simply take longer than you expected – and this buffer time lets you allow for that.
Track your progress
It’s easy to stick with a plan when you can see that it’s working. There are lots of ways to track your progress. For example, you could tick off study sessions on your calendar or award yourself a gold star at the end of each week when you’ve successfully completed all the studying you’d planned. You can also review the material that you’re learning. Perhaps taking a quiz or practice exam at regular intervals. If you can see that you’re making constant improvements, you can remind yourself to stick with your studying despite day-to-day fluctuations in your motivation levels.