Although a solid plan that spans several days is the best way to prepare for exams, students sometimes have to squeeze a week of study into a few days or one night. These are three study plans that students can use regardless of how little or much time they have.
Steps for Every Study plan
Linda Wong, author of Essential Study Skills, 8th edition, outlines the process of creating a study plan that can be used by all students as they approach finals week.
Step 1: Identify the topics you are interested in and create a list of all materials and topics that will be covered before the test.
Step 2: Set aside specific times and days to review the materials and other topics.
Step 3: Make a plan for each review session. You can save review time by creating a plan or pattern for each review session. Plan to take notes during the review process to summarize the information you need.
“The 5-Day Plan”
To allow students enough time to review course concepts and to reach out to instructors or peers if they have questions, it is a good idea to start studying at least five days before the exam. Linda Wong provides a 5-day study plan and suggestions for students on how to organize their study sessions.
For review sessions, you can organize specific blocks of time for days 1, 2, 3 and 4. Your summary notes can be reviewed on day 5. You can mark the review/ study days and times on your weekly calendar. If you plan to review with a study group or partner, coordinate these times with other students.
Example of a schedule:
“The 3-Day Plan”
The 3-Day plan is similar to the 5-day plan in that it allows students to thoroughly review course materials and gives them enough time to ask questions to their instructors or peers.
Students should still make a schedule similar to the one for the 5-day program, but instead of trying to block out longer periods of study and putting themselves at risk of information overload, students should create multiple shorter blocks of time and take frequent breaks to keep their focus.
Here’s a 3-Day Plan Example:
“The 1-Day Plan”
Sometimes life happens. Many students find themselves in the awkward position of having to study for finals week exams even though they planned to start their studies days in advance. Unfortunately, students don’t have the ability to retain their memories by studying for hours or working late. However, there are four steps students could take to improve their chances.
Step 1: Create a schedule, taking care to include breaks and organize materials.
Step 2: Review materials and create summary notes for difficult concepts. Take regular breaks. Students can study on the move by saving lecture notes or summary notes to their smartphone, or using MindTap apps.
Step 3: Get enough sleep! Many students believe that pulling an all-nighter will make them better but it is not true. A lack of sleep can affect working memory function and attentiveness, which will not help on exam day.
Reference: Wong, Linda. 2015. Essential Study Skills, 8th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.