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How to Make a Study Plan

Oct 31, 2007
For most students, the most difficult part of any exam is the actual studying. Typically, there is so much material to study that students begin to procrastinate, putting off studying until the night before. After a late-night cram session, students arrive at the exam tired and feeling dazed by the sheer amount of information they've tried to absorb. The easiest way to study for an exam, and avoid the cram sessions, is to make a study plan.

Group or solo? - The first step to making a study plan is to decide whether you want to study alone or in a group. When planning study times and organizing study sessions for a group, the needs and schedules of the group are a factor. As a result, you must decide whether you will be studying with a group before continuing with making a study plan.

Time - There are two time elements that are crucial to an effective study plan. The first time element to consider is the amount of time you have until the exam, while the second is the amount of time during the day that you can set aside for studying. Try to study for at least two hours per day for major exams, like entrance exams, and at least thirty minutes per day for lecture exams. If you are limited on the amount of time until the exam, such as one week or less, then you will need to increase your daily study time. Set up a schedule with clearly marked study times for each day.

Content - The content to be studied depends on the type of exam. For placement exams, entrance exams, and licensure exams, there are no specific textbooks or prior lecture notes. There are, however, commercially available review guides, and textbooks and lecture notes from past classes often contain a great deal of material that will help with the exam. By looking at the content areas of the test, you can determine what readily available material to study. For course-based exams, textbooks and lecture notes are both ideal study content. Break the content into chunks, and then assign specific chunks to the study times that you have listed on your schedule.
Chronological - Assign chunks of material to study times in chronological order. In other words, study the material in the order that it was presented. Remember to allot more time for studying the most important information.
Critical first - Assign study times so the most critical method is covered first, and then work down to the least important information. Allow more time for covering the most critical information. If you are having trouble with the most important information, re-assign time from the least important information.

The Studying Process

Once you have set up study times and assigned material to them, it is time to study. When reading textbooks, take notes on the information. With lecture notes, write notes in the margin. Use a highlighter. The idea is to make key information readily available for review. In addition, making notes and looking up ideas to supplement notes reinforces the material in your mind. Quiz yourself as you finish each area you are studying to determine what you still need to review.

Study plans are as unique as the person making them. The most effective study plan will take into account your schedule, the times each day when you are able to study without interruption, and the amount of material that needs reviewed. By spreading out the study times and breaking up the information, you make it easier for to absorb and retain the necessary material before the exam.
About the Author
Robert Mckenzie is a teacher and expert on tests, testing and studying. Visit his web site for more information on College Study Skills and free tips on studying and how to study.
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