A study plan is a time-management plan that will help you achieve your learning goals and manage your stress. By setting aside dedicated time to study, you’ll be able to break down tasks and assignments into manageable chunks. You will also find you are better prepared for assessments.
Check out these tips for creating a study plan from Intelligent, an online magazine with unbiased research and information to help students navigate higher education.
There is no “right” way to make a study plan! Your study plan will be personalized based on your specific needs, classes, and learning style.
Here are some guidelines to help you get started on creating your own study plan:
#1: Analyze your current study habits and learning style – Think about what works and what doesn’t work for you. Are you able to study for long blocks of time once or twice a week, or is it more effective if you study nightly for thirty minutes? Are you more productive at a certain time of day?
#2: Evaluate your current schedule and time management – Use a digital or paper calendar (or both!) to block off all of your standing commitments, including classes, work, and social and extracurricular activities. This will let you see how much of your time is already spoken for, and what time you have available for studying.
If your schedule leaves little room for studying, you may need to evaluate what you can cut back on, or how you can rearrange your schedule to have more time for studying.
#3: Plan how much time you need to study for each class – At the beginning of each term, your instructors will give you syllabi for the classes you are taking. The syllabi will usually include the dates of any major exams or projects. You can use these as guides for calculating how much time to set aside for each class, as some courses might be more intensive than others. It will also help you schedule your study sessions to make sure you have enough time to complete all your assignments and prepare for exams.
#4: Develop a schedule – Add your study sessions to your calendar like any other commitments. This ensures that you remember this is time set aside specifically for studying.
Plan out which subject you will study on which day, to ensure that you’re devoting enough time to each subject. For example, Mondays and Thursdays can be set aside for math, while Tuesdays and Fridays can be devoted to English.
If your schedule is busy, you may have to be somewhat flexible and creative in finding time to study. For example, if you commute to school via public transportation, you can use that time for reading. Or perhaps your job allows you to study when it’s not busy.
#5: Assess your weekly calendar – Identifying your learning goals for each class will help you determine how much time you need to spend studying. At the start of the term, think about what you want to accomplish in each class. Maybe you want to master a specific skill, or improve your grade. These are overarching goals to help motivate you during the term.
Then, at the beginning of each week, determine why you need to study and what you plan to accomplish in each study session. Are you preparing for a big exam? Is there a paper due? Are you able to read a chapter ahead in preparation for the next few classes? Adjust your study plan as necessary to meet your weekly goals, and get the most out of each study session.
#6: Stick to your schedule – A study plan works best when you follow it consistently. Try to develop a study plan that you can follow for the length of each term. You will have to adjust your plan as necessary when you switch your classes each term. Remember, the most important thing is sticking to your plan.
#1: Remember to take breaks
If your schedule includes long, multi-hour study sessions, be sure to take brief breaks every so often to stretch, hydrate and rest your mind. This will keep your brain fresh and help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. You'll find some great exercises in this guide or visit our Wellness Table in W. W. Hagerty Library for puzzles and other activities.
#2: Schedule time for other activities
Balance your time! If you schedule several long days in a row of studying, you will get discouraged and be tempted to give up. Make time for nonacademic activities, such as exercise, hobbies, and socializing with friends.
#3: Maintain accountability
Some students find it helpful to study with a partner, as it provides accountability, as well as opportunities for discussion and collaboration. When creating your study plan, check with other classmates to determine if you can coordinate study sessions. However, if you tend to socialize more than study when you are around others, stick to an independent study plan.
#4: Evaluate your study plan and adjust as needed
Your study plan is all about helping you be more efficient and productive. If you find that it’s not working, don’t get discouraged. It’s ok to make changes as you figure out what works best for you.