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How to Create a Study Schedule

Four Parts:Creating Your ScheduleConsidering Your Schedule and PersonalityFollowing Your ScheduleSample Schedules

Studying is an important part of academic success. However, it is sometimes difficult to find the time to study for every subject we need to study for. One way to ensure studying success is to create a solid study schedule. Creating a study schedule, though, can be harder than we think. Not only do you have to prioritize the subjects and courses you need to study for, but you also have to juggle other responsibilities such as family, friends, and entertainment. Ultimately, though, with a little thought and a little work, you'll have no problem creating a schedule and meeting all of your academic goals.

Part 1
Creating Your Schedule

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    List all the subjects you need to study. Perhaps the first step in creating your study schedule is to list all of the subjects and courses you need to study for. Putting your obligations on paper will help you get a better idea of what you really have to do. If you have specific exams to study for, list these instead of courses.[1]
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    Figure out what you need to do for each subject or exam. Now that you’ve written down all of the different subjects you need to study for, you need to figure out what you need to do for each course. While your time commitment and other obligations for a specific class might vary per week, chances are you’ll find out that over the long-haul, you’ll need a certain amount of time per subject.
    • If you have a study guide or a textbook with review sections, use it to narrow down what you list.
    • Reserve time for reading.
    • Reserve time for reviewing your notes.
    • Reserve time to create exam study guides, if you'll need them.[2]
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    Prioritize your list. After you’ve made a list of all the subjects or exams you need to study for and figured out what you need to do for each, prioritize the list. Ranking each class in importance will help you figure out what subjects you need to devote the most time to and which subjects should get your best time slots.
    • Put a number, starting with one, next to all of your subjects or exams. If you need the most time for math, give it a one. If you need the least time for history (and you have five subjects to study for), give it a five.
    • Take into account difficulty of the subject or exam.
    • Take into account the amount of reading you will need to do.
    • Take into account the amount of reviewing you will need to do.[3]
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    Divide your available time during the week into study blocks. Before you go on, you need to divide up your available time during the week into study blocks. After you do this, you can go and assign your blocks to a subject.
    • The trick to creating a study schedule is to plan to study the same time every day so you actually have a schedule you can memorize without constantly checking. By creating a routine, you’ll build a positive study habit.
    • Check if there are times or days of the week you can always study during. For example, you may be free 3-4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. If possible, try to schedule your studying then, because a regular, set routine can help you get into a studying mindset and into one more quickly.
    • Schedule study sessions in 30 to 45 minute blocks. Shorter time blocks are easier to find and to schedule than longer blocks.
    • Create blocks for all of your available time.
    • If you have a certain amount of time before an exam, create a reverse calendar instead of a weekly schedule.[4]
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    Reserve time for non-academic activities. While blocking off time for each subject, you also need to make sure that you are reserving time for family, friends, and rest. This is because you won’t be able to succeed at your studies unless you create a healthy balance between your personal life and your academic life.
    • Reserve time for events you can’t reschedule, your grandmother’s birthday, a family reunion, or your dog’s veterinary appointment.
    • Block off any times you have other commitments such as swim practice, family time, or religious services.
    • Reserve plenty of time for rest, sleep, and exercise.
    • If you only have a very limited amount of time before important exams, consider postponing or canceling regular social or extra-curricular activities.[5]
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    Fill in your study blocks. Once you’ve got your schedule blocked out and you know what you need to schedule, fill in your schedule. Write down which subject you are studying in each session. This will help keep you on track, create checkpoints for the material, and allow you to organize your textbooks and study materials ahead of time.
    • Buy a daily planner or something similar. You can also use a basic notebook.
    • Program your schedule into your smart phone, if you have one.
    • Only plan for a week at a time first, until you've figured out how your schedule works.
    • Prioritize studying for approaching exams. Divide all of your studying up into the limited amount of time you have and spread the material out over the time you have before a given exam.
    • Prioritize courses you are doing poorly in or are determined to ace.[6]

Part 2
Considering Your Schedule and Personality

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    Assess your current schedule. Your first step in creating a study schedule is to assess your current schedule and the way you currently spend time. Assessing your current schedule will enable you to take a good look at how you use time and to help identify where you can be more efficient and what activities you might be able to cut.
    • Determine how many hours a week you currently study.
    • Determine how many hours a week you currently devote to entertainment.
    • Determine how many hours a week you currently spend with friends and family.
    • Do some quick math to see what you could cut. People tend to find they spend a lot of time on entertainment, start there.
    • Make sure to create your study schedule around your work schedule, if you work.[7]
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    Take into account your learning style. While figuring out how you spend time is one of the most important parts of creating your schedule, you also need to figure out how you actually study. Figuring out how you study can help you determine if you can have overlap in activities. It will also help you figure out how you can use time you don’t normally use. Ask yourself a few questions.
    • Are you an auditory learner? Perhaps listen to recorded lectures or other audio studying material when driving in the car or when working out in the gym.
    • Are you a visual learner? Can you put up pictures or watch videos to learn? Try watching a video as a way to learn and as a way of entertainment.[8]
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    Reflect upon your work ethic. Although you might design yourself an awesome schedule, your schedule will mean relatively little if you don’t commit yourself to studying. As a result, you need to spend a little bit of time reflecting upon your work ethic. After doing so:
    • Plan your schedule based on how you think you will work. If you tend to lose focus and take a lot of breaks, build in extra time into your schedule.
    • If you know you procrastinate, build in extra time before any deadlines. This will provide a cushion so you don’t wind up missing a deadline.
    • If you know you have a very solid work ethic, provide yourself with the ability to complete work early. You might do this by creating an extra “bonus” spot in your schedule that you can use to get ahead on any subject you want.[9]

Part 3
Following Your Schedule

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    Make the most of your scheduled off time. One of the biggest challenges in following your study schedule is that you’ll be tempted to blow it off and instead do something relaxing, fun, or entertaining. However, you need to resist this temptation and instead make the most of your scheduled entertainment time.
    • Look forward to your off time as a reward for studying.
    • Use your off time as a way of recharging. Taking a nap might help you. Going for a walk or doing some yoga might relax you and help you to focus when you need to get back to studying.
    • Make sure to get out of the house. Use your off time to go out away from your study space.[10]
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    Take short breaks and stick to them. Make sure to take one break during each study block. However, this could present problems. One of the most important elements of following your study schedule is to make sure you abide by your schedule and only take the allotted amount of break time. Taking extra breaks or prolonging breaks can and will undermine your schedule and sabotage your plans for studying success.
    • Take one 5 to 10 minute long break during your study blocks. Don't exceed 5 to 10 minutes.
    • At the start of your break, set an alarm that will go off when your break is over.
    • Use your break wisely. Make sure to use your break to refresh yourself. Take a stretch, go for a short walk, eat a small snack, or get pumped by listening to some music.
    • Avoid distractions that could prolong your break.[11]
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    Stick to the schedule. The one hard-and-fast rule about making sure your schedule works is that you’ve got to adhere to your schedule. There's no point in making a study schedule if you don't stick to it.
    • Try to get into the habit of looking at your calendar/planner on a regular, preferably daily, basis. This will help keep you away from the "out of sight, out of mind" trap.
    • Once you’ve established a routine, you may start mentally associating certain acts, such as the opening of a textbook or sitting down at a desk, with a study mode.[12]
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    Tell others about your schedule. Sometimes our schedules are hard to follow because important people in our lives distract us from our goals. This is not done maliciously, but just because people who care about you want to spend time with you. In order to avoid this, tell people in your lives about your schedule. This way, if they want to do something, they can plan around it.
    • Post a copy of your study guide on the refrigerator at home so your family can see it.
    • Email a copy out to your friends so they know when you are free.
    • If someone plans something during a study slot, politely ask them if you can reschedule for another time.[13]

Sample Schedules

Tips

  • Be honest with yourself, put in your schedule what you can do and not what you wish to do.

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