With exams lurking around the corner now is the time to clarify your goals, be positive, identify the key areas to attack, make out a realistic revision schedule, and get a system working for you.
Each individual student profile is different, so take the opportunity to identify your particular strengths and weaknesses and focus on those areas that could make a crucial difference to YOU.
WHAT IS GOOD STUDY?
To be effective, the study must be:
- ACTIVE–always work with a pen and paper, look for key points, test yourself. Never just sit down and read for a set period. Focus on tasks, not time.
- ORGANIZED–always ask yourself at the start of a study session, “What do I want to have completed in this session?” Have a plan for what you want to cover this week and this month. Have an overview of the priority areas in each subject.
- AIMED AT UNDERSTANDING–always look to build material into patterns and associations that make sense to you. Link additional information with your existing knowledge of a subject. Make use of graphic examples and illustrations. When you understand something, you will have little difficulty in remembering it.
Setting SMART Study Goals “SMART stands for SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACTION-RELATED, REALISTIC AND TIME-BASED
Don’t have as your target, “Study geography for an hour.”
Do have as your target, “Revise physical geography–rivers, and sketch a model answer on last year’s paper.”
Measure your progress towards your goal. Use a revision checklist for each subject and tick off each topic as you study/revise it. In this way, you’ll literally see your progress.
Break down your study goal into a set of specific tasks, e.g. background reading of research material, draw up essay plan, complete writing of the essay. Base each study session on tasks, not time.
Don’t set goals you are unlikely to achieve. Make realistic demands on yourself, in consultation with teachers and guidance counselors. Otherwise, you will quickly lose heart and lose interest.
Avoid panic before a deadline. Always time your study tasks, working back from the deadline. If you have a test in three weeks’ time, set blocks of revision work for each of the three weeks.
“EATING THE ELEPHANT”
Break up the job into smaller pieces. You’ll get more done if you can do it piece by piece.
I can break each subject that you are studying down into its constituent parts, with major sections, sub-topics, and supporting details. A very useful start is to list out all the topics on the course according to this hierarchy and use this framework as a ‘revision checklist’ for the subject. You can tick off the boxes as you cover the topics in class and as you revise them in your study sessions. It is a useful technique that has the effect of giving you an overview of the subject and a means of monitoring your progress relative to the time available.
Time Management = Self-management: “You can’t save time, you can only spend it wisely” The starting point is to identify your critical success factors–the things that might hold you back, the areas that could make a big difference to your performance in June/November if you could fix them now. Try to answer the following questions honestly as an indicator of your current standing. Are any of these problem areas for you? Is there room for improvement?
Do you have a routine established for study during the week?
Do you get some solid revision done at the weekends?
Do you have a definite time for starting the study each day?
Do you have difficulty starting with tasks?
Do you get your written work handed in on time?
Do you find your plans regularly knocked off-schedule?
Do you panic prior to tests?
“DOING IT NOW”
“Putting things off” is probably the biggest time-waster of all! Procrastination means letting the low-priority tasks get in the way of high-priority ones. Students of physics may liken it to the concept of inertia – a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. Here are some steps to spending time more productively. But remember, don’t just read them, do them!
START THINKING POSITIVE THOUGHTS
Incorporate self-motivating statements into your speech and thoughts: “There’s no time like the present”, “The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can go out.”
PLAN BY WORKING BACKWARDS:
By using revision checklists in your various subjects, know what quantity of material has you will cover in the coming months. Start from the last date and divide your revision up week by week, allowing some flexibility for unforeseen delays. Surprise yourself by being ready in time!
LEARN TO SAY NO ONCE YOUR PRIORITIES ARE SET:
Stick to your weekly schedule as closely as possible–it will become a help to your efforts and a shield against temptation. You’ll still be able to socialize, rest and play, but it will be on your terms, not someone else’s.
Self-reinforcement has a powerful effect on developing a “do it now” attitude. Take satisfaction in the completion of tasks and give yourself a “treat” with the time saved by taking a break. You’ll have a greater sense of freedom and accomplishment because you’re in control, and you’ll enjoy your “free time” more!