What is a study plan?
A study plan is essentially an organised schedule that breaks down the time that you devote to study (for each subject). An effective study plan should be goal driven to ensure you manage your time effectively. It is important to also factor in how you spend your time outside of study. Flexibility is paramount - don’t overcomplicate it. Your study plan should be simple and realistic and this will look different for everyone.
Think about having a short term and long term plan.
- Your short term plan might take the form of daily to-do lists, which will be more detailed than your long term plan. It involves breaking down the time you spend on each task in one day.
- A long term plan looks more like a weekly planner so you can visualise what you have ahead. This includes assessment/ exam due dates as well as social/ extra-circular commitments and regular school commitments including classes or weekly homework.
Why make a study plan?
- Having a study plan will help hold you accountable and avoid your worst enemy: procrastination.
- It will help you visualise how you spend your time - ten minutes spent planning your week or day can help ease the burden of figuring it all out in your head: how are you going to study for those three exams, complete those two assignments, keep up with homework and make sure you have time to catch up with friends?
- A study plan allows for prioritisation. It is not realistic that you’ll be able to work on all your subjects or assessments in one day - planning out what needs immediate attention versus what you can gradually work on will help avoid that dreaded last minute cram.
- Giving yourself structured time allocations allows you to be more productive. Weekly patterns will help you to get ahead - once you’ve ticked off the compulsory stuff (homework and assessments), you should consider how you can use your study plan to make time for additional study that will benefit you in the long run (mostly for final exams). Make those things a routine (although allow for flexibility when necessary). For example, every Wednesday night you might put aside 30 minutes to spend on multiple choice questions for Economics or every Friday night you might spend 20 minutes planning an essay for English which you will complete over the weekend. You might also set aside an hour every afternoon to ensure that your notes are up to date for the classes you had that day.
How to get the most out of your study plan
(1) Look at your current study habits
What works for you at the moment?
Is studying in long blocks becoming unproductive? Would it be more useful to break up your time into smaller segments? Do you prefer focusing on one subject per study session (say, in three hours) or would it be more effective to spend one hour on three different subjects?
Are you more productive at certain times of the day? Will it work better for you to wake up early to smash out an hour of study before school?
(2) Look at your current schedule
Block out all of your existing commitments: classes, work, extracurricular and social activities or a weekly KIS tutoring session!
How much time is left over? Will you break up that time evenly per subject or do some subjects require more time? The answer to that question will likely change each week based on what work is due (so remember to plan ahead and factor in exams/ assessments when you get your assessment schedule at the beginning of the term).
Assignments might be more spread out but most of the time, exams are grouped together in an exam block - that is why it's important that you keep up with regular study throughout the term (as we highlighted before, a fundamental benefit of the study plan is ‘getting ahead’).
If your current schedule does not leave enough room for study, it might be appropriate to cut back the hours on the other stuff.
(3) Add your study sessions into a weekly plan
Create a pattern of planning your study sessions at the beginning of each week - it’s difficult to sit down at the beginning of the term and plan out exactly how many hours you want to study each day (you don’t always know what's coming up… you might not have figured out your work roster or busy social calendar!)
When planning your study sessions, try to be as specific as possible: how many hours can you commit to each session? What subject/s you will study in each session and what do you want to achieve for each subject? Broad goals are fine for weekly planning as you can be more specific in your daily study planning.
Consider what needs completing first. This does not always mean whatever is due next. If you only work on what’s coming up next (say, your Maths exam on Wednesday) then you aren’t giving yourself enough time for other assessments/ due dates that are right around the corner (say, the History essay due on Thursday).
(4) Create specific goals in a daily plan
As we mentioned before, a daily plan will look more like a to-do list. Sometimes it will work to allocate a specific time to complete each task (i.e. Maths homework: 6-7pm) however this doesn’t always allow for flexibility. What if dinner is earlier than normal tonight?
In your daily plans, it can be more effective to break down tasks in 30 minutes increments, often referred to as the ‘Pomodoro technique’. Consider what you want to achieve in that 30 minute increment. For example, instead of planning to work on your science research task from 7-8.30 (this is something that might appear on your weekly plan rather than your daily plan), be more specific and break it down:
Science research task:
- 30 minutes - gather six sources
- 30 minutes - read through three of the sources
- 30 minutes - plan out report structure
In that time, you’ve now made a good start on a task that you didn’t know where on earth to begin 1.5 hours ago - breaking it down like this can make tasks seem much more achievable.
(5) Be realistic
Nothing is worse than an over-ambitious study plan that you can’t stick to. Adjust the plan accordingly each week.
Factor in breaks within sessions as well as time off for exercise, sleep, meals and social activities – all of that fuels the brain to maximise your time when you hit the books!
If you're having trouble sticking to your study plan, it's a good idea to book a free 30-minute study consultation where we can help you kick those study goals.