Planning your study is essential. If you don’t make a plan, how do you know you’re fitting all the hours of study you need to in a day?
How do you know you’ve done enough work for that upcoming essay, assessment or even your dissertation?
I set hours every week to study. It’s really important for me since I’m studying through distance learning but I did it when I was at a brick university too. Attending all your lectures isn’t enough.
Here are some tips that I’ve picked up over the years for planning your study timetable.
How Many Hours Do You Need to Do?
In your first lecture, your professor or lecturer will tell you the total number of hours you should do for your course. Generally speaking, you need to do 100 hours for 10 credits; according to most universities.
Those hours are made up of your lectures (if you study full-time or part-time at a university) and your own study.
Work out how many hours you already have timetabled. These could be through lectures, labs, tutorials and other forms of study. If you’re doing a dissertation, you will likely have hours where you will meet up with the one assessing your work.
Once you have those hours, work out how many extra ones you will need to do. These are the hours you need to do in your own time.
Draw Up a Study Timetable
I like to have a large timetable on the wall. You can print them off or make your own. This is mine:
As you can see, I block out the hours that I’m not available for study. These are for work, my daughter’s toddler group and church. Block your hours out that you definitely can’t study.
That doesn’t mean every Friday and Saturday night have to be blocked out! Block out the necessary events. These could be:
- Due to work
- Because of a society or club you joined
- For a sport you play
- To make sure you block out time to yourself
Now you can look at where you can fit your study hours in. If it means getting up earlier on a Sunday, do it! It will benefit you in the end.
Planning Your Study for Short Periods
Don’t decide that you’ll spend four hours in one sitting to study. It isn’t realistic. You’ll want (in fact, need) to take breaks.
I do two-hour blocks because that suits me. Plan your study timetable in a way that suits how you prefer to work. You may only be able to do an hour at a time. That’s fine! Work to your strengths so you actually study.
If you have breaks between lectures, consider doing some study then. You’ll be in the university anyway, especially if you just have an hour’s break, so you might as well use it proactively. I used to find a quiet spot with friends to study.
Set Up Some study Groups
Study groups are a form of study and worth setting. Find a group of friends on your course and go through the material you have learnt.
I found that study groups were really good for assessments. We could chat about our ideas, bounce them off each other and develop better arguments. Don’t copy of each other but use it to help further your learning and get a better grade.
Planning your study in this way can be difficult. You will all need to join your timetables together to find a time that you all have free. This is when those blocks between lectures is great.
Plan a Week or a Month at a Time
Don’t plan the whole semester or year at once. You never know when something will come up. You may find planning your study on a weekly basis is best, especially if you play a sport and have a mixture of away and home games.
You could find planning your study for a month is beneficial. It all depends on your personal circumstances. I don’t recommend planning for longer than a month.
My plan may seem like it is for the whole year but that isn’t actually the case. That’s the plan for now. It’s subject to change as my life changes.
Avoid setting your plan in stone. You want time to yourself and some weeks you may find that you’ve been through all the material you need; and you just can’t do anymore! That’s fine. Go with it and allow your plan to change now and then when you need to. Just make sure you get the hours back in somewhere whenever necessary.
I hope that helps with planning your study timetable.
How do you go about planning your study? Share your tips and thoughts below. I’m always interested to see how others prefer to plan.