There’s no doubt about it: studying for school exams can be stressful. This is especially the case when it comes to HSC exams. When it feels like 12 years of schooling has been leading up to this point and your entire future is on the line! It can feel as though you have mountains of information to memorise, and barely any time to do it. The good news is, studying for exams doesn’t necessarily have to be a one-way ticket to panic-ville. By starting early, having a clear study plan and using effective time management techniques, you can ensure you turn up to your exams feeling relaxed, confident and prepared. Read on to learn how to manage time for study during exams.
How to manage time for study during exams in 6 simple steps
Break tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks
When you’ve got countless chapters of study notes to get through, it can feel overwhelming. This is especially the case when it comes to end-of-year exams, when you’re revising an entire year’s worth of content for various subjects. The key is to break down each subject into smaller, more manageable chunks. Say you have 8 weeks until your exam and 6 different modules per subject, you could revise each module per week, with two weeks for revision.
Prioritise your tasks
When you have so many subjects demanding your attention, it can be difficult to know where to start. This is where prioritisation comes in. If you have one subject with an exam that’s a few months away and another that is in a few weeks, obviously the second one should be your highest priority. However, if you have a bunch of different exams around the same time, it may be a matter of determining which subject you need more time to study for. For example, if you’re fairly confident in English but struggle with Maths, you may need to dedicate more time towards studying for that. Or perhaps your History exam has a large amount of dates and notes you need to memorise, while your English test is mainly creative writing based. Identify your strength and weaknesses and prioritise accordingly.
Create a study schedule
Once you’ve broken your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and determined what will require more of your time and attention, it’s time to create a study schedule. This is the most important step, as it’s what will help ensure you actually stick to your study plan. While you can create a study schedule on your phone or laptop, it’s best to print it out and keep it somewhere you’ll see it, like above your desk or bed or on the fridge. You can use a program like Canva to find templates for study schedules, or create your own on Word or by hand. You can also use a large whiteboard and markers.
Start by writing down all your non-negotiable commitments, like work shifts, events or any extra-curricular activities. Around that, you can slot in your study sessions. Make sure you write down how long each session will be, otherwise you may end up working for 5 minutes and then bailing to watch Netflix! You may find it useful to have a set day for every subject, ie. every Monday is Maths, Tuesday is Music and so forth.
It may sound obvious, but the earlier you start studying for an exam, the better off you’ll be. Leaving things to the very last minute puts you under unnecessary stress and it makes it difficult to actually absorb the information when you’re panicking about getting everything done. By giving yourself plenty of time to study, you can revise your notes over and over again until you could recite it in your sleep. The day you get notice about an upcoming exam, add it to your study schedule and start working on it. That way, you’ll feel far more prepared and relaxed when the day of the exam rolls around.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
Once you’ve determined what tasks you need to do and when, try the Pomodoro Technique. This time management technique is based around the concept of monotasking. The direct opposite of multitasking, monotasking involves eliminating all distractions and working on just one task uninterrupted for set time blocks — usually, around 30 minutes, with 5-10 minute breaks in between. This is a highly efficient way to study, as you’re not depleting your brain power by jumping from task to task. After all, research shows you can only focus on studying for around 30 to 45 minutes before your brain starts to struggle to absorb information. The delayed gratification also helps to prevent you from checking your Facebook or Instagram feed, as you know you’ll be able to do it to your heart’s content during your break.
To give monotasking a go, download a free Pomodoro timer like Pomodone. You can add it to your browser, or download it as an app onto your computer or phone. Then, find a comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted and switch off all notifications on your phone. Begin working on your first task when the timer starts, and keep going until it goes off for your break. During your break, it’s a good idea to get up and stretch your legs, or grab a drink of water as this will help you maintain clarity and focus when it’s time for your next task.
If you struggle to manage time for study during exams, you may want to consider getting a tutor. At C3 Education Group, our talented tutors not only guide you through challenging concepts, but they help you establish a study plan and keep you accountable in sticking to it. Through our HSC tutoring, we focus on providing highly specialised assistance for our students to achieve excellence in their subject of choice, above and beyond their personal best. You can learn more about our tutoring services here.