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How to create a study timetable

Having a practical and manageable study timetable can be really helpful when trying to prepare for exams


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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We can sometimes become a bit overwhelmed if we have a lot of information to cover when preparing for exams. Having a useful, realistic study timetable that works for you can help ease this exam stress, as we know we have a plan to cover as much as we can.

Where should I start?

Sometimes you can sit down to put together a timetable and find it difficult to know where to start. It’s okay to spend time planning and putting together a timetable as it will be more helpful in the long run if it is manageable and realistic. Here are some tips on getting started.

Use a template

Creating or using a template to form your study plan is a good way to start. Most people find it easier to create a weekly study plan and update it at the end of each week. If you find it useful you could also have monthly study plans for different subjects so you have a clear list of the different topics to be covered under each of them. There are plenty of downloadable timetables online or if you are feeling particularly creative, you can always put together your own.

Create a list of topics or tasks

Try to put together a list of topics or tasks under each subject you need to cover. For example, a task for English could be learning different quotes, or in Maths it could be practising quadratic equations. Breaking each subject out into smaller, more manageable tasks will be useful when you are putting tasks into your timetable template.

Filling in your timetable

When it comes to filling out your timetable here are some things to keep in mind.

Add in stuff you enjoy

It can be helpful to start by adding in the fun stuff, the things you enjoy or look forward to during the week. This could be adding in regular breaks each day, a time to connect with friends or even deciding the best time to study your favourite subject. You may also prefer to keep your timetable just for your study and exam tasks and that’s okay too, do what works best for you.

Creating time slots

There is a lot of research to suggest that 25 mins is the average time most people can stay focused and concentrated while studying. For some people it may be a little more or a little less. It can be a good idea to break up your day into 25 minute slots and decide how long each task you have scheduled for the day might take. Some may take just one 25 minute slot, others may take two or three with short 5 minute breaks in between each slot.

Schedule breaks

Make sure to schedule regular, short breaks. If your time slots are 25 mins, taking a 5 min break after each slot is a good idea. Make sure you get up from your study space and move around during this time so you do feel like you’ve had a break from whatever task you are working on. Make sure to have one longer lunch break in the middle of the day and one 15-20 minute break where you feel you may need it most.

Focus on tasks, not time

When filling in your timetable use the list of tasks you divided out from each subject. Instead of putting just ‘English’ in as a time slot, be specific. Giving yourself a specific task to do in English will give you more direction. For example, your task may be to learn 10 quotes for your poetry section.

What tasks should I do first

Think about which tasks to put earlier in the day. It can be helpful to put the more difficult tasks at the start of the day when we tend to have more energy and be more focused. Putting the easier or shorter tasks towards the end of the day when you may feel tired or have less focus can be a good idea.

Review and reflect

Remember, your timetable is not set in stone. It’s important to review and reflect on it each day or even weekly. If there is something that is not working for you or you think there is something you could add in that would work better, don’t be afraid to change it. The more you are able to reflect and adapt your timetable to suit your needs the more efficient it will be for your study.

Stick with it

It’s okay if not everyday goes exactly to plan, this does not mean you have failed. Don’t let it put you off from sticking with your timetable. You can start again tomorrow.

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Published April 30th2020
Last updated August 4th2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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