How to create a great study plan!
By Jain from the Library Student Team
Creating a study plan
Creating a study plan is a good way to manage your time effectively to make sure you are able to complete all the work for your modules or topics before assessment deadlines and exams. Below is an example of a study planning method you can use to plan your time by month and make sure you’re using different study strategies to space out your learning.
Types of study strategies
Here’s a compilation of different techniques that you can use as part of a spaced revision plan to make your revision more effective:
Reading: Reading academic texts relevant to your topic is an important, but time-consuming, part of many degrees. Make sure you read the texts well in advance to leave enough time to revise or recap them during revision.
Note-taking: Effective note-taking is key to starting off any good project and using time to make useful notes will help you in the long run of your assessment. The key to making good notes is to make sure you are not just re-writing what the author is saying! The Cornell note system is one great method to use when making notes but if you’d like to brush up on your note-taking technique have a look at this My Learning Essentials resource on Note-making.
Reflection: Reflecting upon what knowledge you already know, want to know and what you have learnt (also known as the KWL technique) is a good way to review what stage you are at with learning a topic. Putting in some time to do this when tackling revision will help you to ensure that your time is spent appropriately.
Group study: Studying as a group is a great way to support your peers and get clarification on anything you may struggle with. It’s easy to forget exactly how much we can learn from each other! My Learning Essentials have a brilliant online resource explores the skills involved in working collaboratively to help you to maximise the success of your project. If you want some quick top tips you can listen to a podcast on group work here.
Planning: Scheduling in enough time to plan essays is key to ensuring you have a smooth writing process. You should be trying to do most of your thinking at this stage so that writing your essay is more about expressing your ideas.
Typed notes: Re-writing or summarising your notes by typing them out is one way of recapping content covered in lectures and seminars that you may have handwritten.
Mind-mapping: Mind-mapping can help you to make links between various ideas within a topic. By increasing your creativity it can be used as a tool to help you form new ideas, identify relationships and ultimately improve memory and retention.
Computer study: Some people find that they are able to type their study notes quicker than writing them, which makes computer study a good way to work through a lot of content quickly and to create a comprehensive set of study notes. Using computer study interspersed with other study methods will help you to revisit topics effectively.
Revisiting topics: Revisiting topics (particularly those you might have struggled with) will ensure that the topics that require the most attention will be revised enough to help prepare you best for assessment.
Practice questions: When preparing for an exam, completing practice questions is a good way to prepare you for the exam setting. Many modules offer past exam questions online which you can use to help practice and prepare for the style of questioning.
Memory recall: Using pictures as part of your revision is a good way to exercise your memory recall skills. Try to link certain elements of a topic to a particular image or symbol. Then test yourself to see if you can recall the relevant information when you see the image or word. This study strategy works particularly well with flashcards (see below).
Lecture podcast: Listening to lecture podcasts is another way to recap any content covered in lectures in case you missed any information.
Flashcards: Spending time creating flashcards with a few bullet points on each topic will help you to take your revision wherever you go. Flashcards have been proven to be particularly beneficial because they force you to engage with ‘active recall’ and build confidence in a topic through repetition.
Poster: Creating a poster that you can pin up somewhere you regularly look will help you to embed information over time, which makes it a great revision strategy. It will also force you to summarise your content ensuring you aren’t just re-reading your notes.
Testing yourself: Testing yourself is another good way to prepare for an exam as it helps you to practice retrieving information. You could even write out a few exam questions yourself that you can have a go at answering. It forces you to think about what you do and don’t know.
Verbal recall: Recalling information verbally will build your confidence in a topic as you practice summarising it in your own words. Verbal recall reveals which areas you are able to explain best as well as helping to identify which topics you need to further your understanding of.
Writing: Writing an essay or project is a many-staged process. It will include producing a first draft, referencing, editing and proofreading. My Learning Essentials have a great online resource that guides you through the stages of writing an academic essay: Start to finish: Essay Writing.
Timed practice: When it comes to exams, practising in timed conditions will best prepare you for the real thing. You’ll be less nervous about completing the paper within the time limit, and it will help you determine to how much time to spend on each section of the exam.
How to create a study plan:
One way to make sure that you incorporate different study strategies into your routine is to create a monthly study plan. This way, you will be able to visualise when you aim to learn and revisit topics whilst completing other assignments. Here is an example of how to use the study strategy stickers to create a monthly study plan:
Above is an example of how you could use the stickers to approach a spaced study plan for a calendar month. The assessment deadline dates have also been added to the calendar.
The stickers have been added to the calendar to show what study strategy will be used on which day. Each of the different modules have been given a symbol (e.g. Sp = Spanish music) and placed next to a study strategy sticker on the calendar — you can create your own key to signposting which modules or subtopics you want to cover. This way, you can use the stickers to plan which module and which study method you are using to make sure you have got enough days revisiting and revising content for exams, as well as enough time to write and complete coursework essays and projects too.
Below is a blank calendar and sticker template you can print out and use to have a go yourself!