One of the best ways to reduce stress prior to exams is to actually plan out your revision time. However, that’s easier said than done–creating a study plan is one thing, but actually sticking to it for once is a completely different story. Over the years I have finally found a process of making a study plan that I can actually stick to, and it has worked for me personally during the hectic times of GCSEs along with A Levels. So hopefully it will work for you too if you’re struggling to plan your revision effectively prior to exams.
1) Determine the “compulsory events”.
This includes things such as school, meals, and (obviously–contrary to what people pulling all-nighters think) sleep!
2) Determine the “non-negotiables”.
“Non-negotiables” are things you do regularly every week that you enjoy and wouldn’t want to compromise on (e.g. going on YouTube between 7-9pm on weekends).
I know most people usually start off by filling in huge “study blocks” in order to maximize their study time. However, putting in the “study blocks” first often leads to you overcommitting to hours which are unrealistic, getting stressed, and discarding the study plan, which defeats the purpose of drawing it up in the first place. Putting in the fun stuff then the studying into the plan allows you to prioritize the things you love to do whilst still leaving plenty of time to study. In turn, this means that you’re willing to study in your “study blocks” because you know that you are not sacrificing the things you want to do.
3) Determine when you’re most productive in the day.
Highlight your “productive time zones” and “unproductive time zones” using two different colours. Some people concentrate best early in the morning whilst others find they work best at night. E.g. my “productive time zones” are around 14:00-19:00 then 21:00-23:00, and my “unproductive time zones” are the hours right after meals and early in the morning.
4) Allocate when to do low-brain and high-brain activities.
Do your low-brain activities during the “unproductive time zones”. This includes studying for your favourite/easiest subject (e.g. for me, maths and chemistry). Do your high-brain activities during the “productive time zones”. This includes studying for your least favourite/hardest subject (e.g. for me, biology and further maths).
5) Create an overall to-do list.
Create to-do lists for your low-brain and high-brain activities, in the order which you want to do them in. Divide each list into sections with similar numbers of to-dos per section so that the number of sections is equal to the number of weeks you are planning to stick to the study plan for–the aim is to do a section per week.
Make sure the sections with the larger numbers of to-dos are on the top of the list and the sections with the least are at the bottom. This is so that if you don’t finish section #1 within week 1, you can carry it over to section #2 for week 2, then section #3 for week 3 and so on.
N.B. it’s important to keep in mind that a study plan is a guide, not a rule book. Be flexible with it! There will be days which you just don’t want to work and days where you may want to work during your “non-negotiables”. As long as you stick with it most of the time, don’t beat yourself up over it.
I hope you found this post useful and that it will be of help for those of you revising for exams! If you found it helpful, do follow my Instagram. Leave a comment too if you have any questions about this post or have any other tips on planning your revision to share.
Thanks for reading, hope you are having a great day and best of luck with any exams you may have in the future!