Setting up a study timetable

When it comes to time management, there are three types of people:

  1. The procrastinator:

This person underestimates how much time they’ll need to study and so believes that they have plenty of time left. They’re usually cramming late into the night before the exam, and sometimes even just before the exam.

  1. The overachiever

This person does nothing but study. There’s no time for fun or relaxation. By the time the exams roll around, this person is so frazzled that it’s a miracle they can hold a pen, never mind answer questions with it.

  1. The disorganised

This poor soul tries their best but is so disorganised that they’re always underprepared. They’ll spend hours revising a section, only to discover that it’s not even examinable!

Recognise any of these types? They all have one thing in common: None of them know how to set up a study timetable.

A good study timetable will ensure that you are organised, prepared and even relaxed by the time you write your exam. Learning how to manage your time effectively is an important study skill and life skill.

  1. Choose your format

You may want to use an online calendar (for example Google Calendar) to do your planning, or you may prefer a good old-fashioned diary. You could also download and print this study timetable. Add colour and stickers and put it somewhere you can see it daily (like the fridge).

  1. Get your exam timetable

Your exam timetable should include details of the exam, for example the paper that you will be writing (i.e. English Paper 1 or Life Sciences Paper 2), the time of the exam and the venue. Fill in this information on your study timetable (include all of the specifics).

  1. Write down what you need to know

For every exam that you will be writing, jot down the sections that you will need to study. Remember to do this for every exam and not necessarily every subject. You will write more than one exam for some subjects and it’s important to know what each exam will be testing.

  1. Work backwards and plan your study sessions

This part will take a bit of time. In two or three-hour blocks, work backwards from each exam and write down the sections that you will need to study. Try not to do more than two or three study sessions per day. Also try not to plan to study a section the day before the exam. Rather block off some time to do some revision for that exam the day before. This will help you feel calmer and more in control.

  1. Now add the fun stuff

Now try to schedule in some recreational and relaxation activities. Start with family outings, birthdays, church gatherings, etc. and then add at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Try to do something fun once a week, like see a movie with friends. Don’t try to do too much, as this will only make you feel more stressed.

Once you’re happy with your study timetable, and you’ve checked that it isn’t too demanding (or too relaxed!), make it as colourful or attractive as you like, put it somewhere you can see it and look at it every morning. If it’s electronic, set reminders and alarms so that you don’t forget to look at your to-do list for the day. Things may change and need shifting around sometimes but you should be disciplined enough to stick to your plan as much as possible.

Draw a line through every successful day so that you can see how far you’ve come. Before you know it, the exams will be over and you’ll have aced them!