Deadline Season: 5 tips to plan for exams and deadlines

January 2019 is almost here. I can barely believe it. Partly because time has gone so fast and partly because I don’t like to acknowledge the fact that I have exams coming up. But alas, we can’t ignore them forever, so here are some tips to start planning right now.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before but a goal without a plan is just a dream. So, if you want to pass your exams, with as little stress as possible, a good game plan is in order.

I’ve started my 5th year at Ghent University this year, so I’d like to share some planning tips that I’ve picked up over the years:

1. Start planning in December. I know, I know, it sounds early. But there’s Christmas and New Years and you don’t want to spend those days studying instead of having some well-earned fun. So print out two monthly overviews or draw them in your bullet journal (like I did) and start filling in your exam dates and dates on which you know you won’t be studying.

2. Once the ‘no study’ days (Yellow in my BuJo) and the exam dates (Red in my BuJo) are filled in, it’s time to start planning. Spaced repetition is the best thing you can do for memory purposes. The more you review something with some time in between the more solid the information will become and the more easier it’ll be to retrieve it when needed. So make sure you plan your study sessions accordingly.

3. Study multiple subject per day instead of focussing on the same subject all day long. This method of changing subjects every so often will prepare you brain to answer exam questions. It will help you switch between subjects a lot faster and a lot easier. When you’re planning, choose 3 to 4 topics for one day and alternate with 3 or 4 other topics the next day. That way you get the benefits of spaced repetition and multiple subjects.

4. Plan according to your own rithm. If you work best in the mornings, plan the bulk of your studying then. If you work best at night, plan it then. But no matter when your studying, morning or evening, always plan to do the hardest task first. It helps you feel accomplished and it’ll make everything else easier. The sooner you get it done (properly done that is), the sooner can take a break and relax for a bit.

5. The fifth and last tip is to use a timer, better known as the pomodoro technique. Your brain can only focus on something without distraction for so long. Studying in smaller chunks of time or ‘pomodoros’ has proven to help with retention and focus. My favourite apps for this are Forest and Tide. So if you’re someone who plans out your day per hour, break it up in smaller chunks (I usually study for 35 min and then take a 10 min break) and allocate a subject to each pomodoro you’ll be studying.

Sincerely yours, 

Tessa

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