How to Make a Study Timetable for Exams

Uh-oh. It’s that time of semester. You’ve spent a little too much time watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother and now exams are only WEEKS AWAY. Gasp! Luckily, an exam study timetable might just save your skin. Here’s how to make one...

Getting Started

Check your exam times and download a weekly timetable template from Google Images. If exams are a few weeks away, you may need to print several copies.

Start by filling in exam dates and other commitments such as work, classes, soccer, your best friend’s birthday party, etc. Keeping up extra-curricular activities and social commitments during exam time will help keep you motivated and sane. Also enter the times of your favourite TV shows, etc. If you don’t feel like you’re missing out on everything, it will be easier to stick to your timetable. Plus it’s important to have waking hours where you’re not studying.

Also block out time for essential tasks like sleeping, eating and showering. Maintaining regular sleeping and eating patterns will help you to focus better.

You don’t need to plan your life during STUVAC down to the nearest minute, but an unrealistic timetable will fail within the first few days.

Planning your Study

Work out which subject(s) need the most work. This will depend on how close the exam is, your current level of understanding, and how much the exam is worth as a percentage of your overall subject mark.

Working back from the exam dates, allocate time to study for each subject every day. Like a high school class timetable, you should be covering multiple subjects each day. The closer it gets to an exam, the more time you should spend studying for that particular subject.

Why do it this way? Cramming for your exams in a few days is hell, and not very effective either. It is theoretically possible to study one subject for 18 hours non-stop a day, but how much are you going to take in?

By doing little bits each day, you’ll avoid information overload and make the most of both your short-term and long-term memories. Plus, studying one subject for days on end gets boring fast. Having different subjects to work through means that when you get sick of one, you can switch to another. It gives your brain a change of scenery while still getting work done.

Instead of simply allocating a few hours to “equity study” each day, specify what you want to achieve: “read constructive trusts chapter”, “do 2010 past paper”, etc. This will help you to ensure that you have time to thoroughly study for each subject.

Putting the Plan into Action

Regular breaks will help you to stay focused and motivated. Depending on how dense the material is, take a short break every 20-45 minutes. Unlike meal breaks, don’t schedule these breaks into your timetable, simply take them as needed: whenever you feel your focus declining. You’ll only need a short break from your work – long enough to make yourself a cup of coffee, go sit outside for a few minutes, play a round of spider solitaire, etc.

Don’t forget to tick items off your study timetable as you finish them – it’ll make you feel like a study saint.

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