How to Create a Study Schedule
If you want to succeed in your academic career, you’re going to need to manage your time effectively. However, despite the importance of studying and completing assignments when they are due, students often have challenges allocating their time to study effectively. In fact, researchers have concluded that many students simply lack good study skills altogether, or rely on study strategies that just don’t work. One way to make the most of your time preparing for tests and assignments is to create a study schedule. Let’s take a close look at study schedules, and see if creating one can help you improve your grades and get a better grasp on complicated academic subjects.
What is a Study Schedule?
A study schedule is basically a way to organize your study routine and visualize it by using daily and weekly layouts, calendars, or apps. Creating a study schedule will help you stay organized. Tracking your academic assignments and work overtime will enable you to plan your homework and study sessions more effectively, keep track of your class schedule, and manage your time. Seeing all of your work and study requirements laid out across days, weeks or months will help you to complete your work on time and achieve your academic goals; it can also help you understand when you can afford to take a break too and may help to lower your stress level when you’re carrying a heavy academic load.
Now that you understand what a study schedule is and how it can help you, let’s talk about how to create one.
Step 1. Identify Key Study Tasks and Goals
The first thing you should do when creating a study schedule is to determine what you have to accomplish over a certain period of time. It is best to use academic time periods for your goal setting, such as semesters or marking periods. Within that given period of time, you should list out key things that you want to complete or academic tasks that have to be undertaken in order to pass a class. These goals can include completing major papers, performing lab experiments or studies, and passing mid-term exams. Wherever possible, you should determine exactly when each academic task will occur, or when it is due.
Step 2. Plot Key Tasks and Goals Over Time on a Calendar
Once you’ve identified all of your key goals and tasks, you should plot all of these key due dates on a calendar. Using a calendar will help you to visualize when and where you have to do things, so you can make a good plan for accomplishing them. Use whatever calendar system you are comfortable with. For example, if you use an app like Google Calendar, that can be a great way to record key dates and build a study schedule. We have also a list of the best planning apps that you check out. If you are low tech, a wall calendar will work just fine as well. If you have the space in your home or dorm room, a bulletin or dry erase board with all of the academic period’s months visible can be a great way to visualize all of your tasks and goals and when they occur, too.
Step 3. Fill in other Key Activities
In addition to all of your key tasks and goals, your study schedule should also include other events and activities that will take up significant portions of your time. Including these other activities on your calendar will help you identify the time you have available to complete key academic work; it will also help you to prioritize the activities that you schedule so that you can complete all of your academic work. You should pencil in all of your class times, and any additional academic events you plan to attend, such as guest speakers or field trips. If you’re on a school or intramural sports team, place your practice time and scheduled games on your calendar. You should also include personal events on your schedule as well, such as family or friend get-togethers, planned vacations, parties, and other social activities.
Once all of these activities are plotted on your calendar, you’ll be able to make a study strategy.
- HELPFUL HINT: It is a good idea to use some sort of color code to identify different activities on your calendar. For example, key academic events, such as major papers or exams, could appear on your calendar in bold red font. Social events or other less critical activities could be posted in green font. This will help increase your ability to discriminate between different activities.
Step 4. Make a Study Strategy
Once you’ve identified and plotted all of the activities you’re aware of in a given academic period, you will be ready to make a strategy to complete all of your key tasks. Now, one by one, look at each task you have to accomplish and attempt to determine the amount of work that must be done to complete it. As you review each task, you should attempt to determine the following:
- How much time will the test, paper, presentation, etc. take to prepare?
- How much research and/or writing will the activity involve?
- Which subject or activity is going to give me the most challenges personally?
- What are the short term or immediate deadlines that I have to deal with right now?
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Answering these questions will enable you to better allocate your time to focus on the appropriate subject and accomplish key goals. For example, if you have a key task that is due in a few days, you will be able to prioritize work on that over other items that are less pressing. Similarly, if you have a project due in a class that is personally challenging for you, you can allocate more time (or even a conference with your professor) in order to ensure you complete it. Once you have analyzed and prioritized each of your key academic tasks, determine the time when you are going to work on each one of them and plot it on the empty spaces of your study schedule.
- HELPFUL HINT: As you plot your study strategy, you may find that you currently don’t have enough time to complete an academic task. If that’s the case, you may have to adjust your schedule and postpone or cancel planned social or athletic events in order to ensure you have the time you need for prioritized academic work. You may also have to ask for an extension in order to complete a task to standard as well. Your study schedule will help you make the best, most informed decisions about these types of choices.
Step 5. Stick to it!
The best study schedule in the won’t be any good to you unless you use it. After you’ve fully developed your study schedule, make a point of referencing it on a routine basis. If you get in the habit of it daily, it will become a powerful tool to keep you on track to complete your academic goals. As you grow to rely more heavily on your study schedule, you may find that you need more or less time to complete certain academic tasks; if that is the case, make the necessary adjustments to ensure you make the most of the time you have available.
Being aware of the key work you have to accomplish will keep you organized and can even help to lower your stress level. Your study schedule may even help you realize that you have some free time to take a well-deserved break from your studies, and head to the local coffee shop for a latte!
Additional Thoughts on Study schedules
Once you start using your study schedule, here are a few more things to consider to ensure you get the most out of it:
- The syllabi you receive at the start of an academic course can help you to rapidly plot out key academic tasks and activities on your study schedule, so ensure you make use of them!
- Be consistent. Schedule your study sessions at the same hours each day if you can. A consistent routine can help to boost your productivity.
- Don’t forget to schedule breaks. If you overload your schedule with work, it could end up being counterproductive.
- Don’t underestimate how much time you need to study for each class. As a general rule, you will need to read and study outside of the classroom twice as much time you spend in an actual class. That means that if you take a 12-credit semester, you will have to spend 24 hours a week studying.
- Make sure you take into account library and lab hours; time allocated to conduct research or work at these locations won’t do you any good if they aren’t open.
- Don’t forsake a good meal and a good sleep for pushing in more study hours.
A study schedule can be a great asset and a powerful tool to help you accomplish key academic goals. A good study schedule will help you make the most of your time, so you can allocate the appropriate effort against key academic tasks exactly when you need to. Your calendar can also keep you organized, and help you avoid stress; it may even help you carve out a little bit of extra time to relax here and there during a challenging semester too.
And if you face trouble with completing all of your assignments before the deadline, turn to our team for help. It’s always a good idea to have someone to back you up in case of emergency. Good luck!