Making a study plan

A study plan is not something to be left until exam time. To be successful at university or TAFE, you need to study consistently throughout the semester, right from the first week. This study time is additional to the time you spend on assessment tasks.

It is strongly recommended that you spend at least one hour studying and completing assessment tasks for every one hour contact time at university or TAFE. For example, if you have eight hours of classes per week, you should spend at least eight hours a week on additional study and assessment tasks.

Organising your time

A semester planner is a good way to start. It’s a good idea to make a big one to put up on your wall. Here’s an example of a semester planner to help you start:

Subject (course)
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
History 101



Essay due by Monday (30%)

Science 101


Lab report due by Wednesday (5%)

Assignment due by Friday (50%)

You can also put this information in your diary or calendar if you use one for university or TAFE.

A timetable can be useful to organise when to study. Here's an example of a weekly timetable:


Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
9 am
Lecture
Free time
Lab class
Free time
Study
Free time
Work
10 am
Lecture
Study
Lab class
Study
Study
Free time
Work
11am
Tutorial
Travel to university
Lecture
Study
Travel to university
Free time
Work
12 pm
Lunch time
Lunch time
Gym
Lunch time
Lunch time
Lunch time
Work
1 pm
Travel home
Lecture
Lunch time
Free time
Lecture
Tennis
Work
2 pm
Free time
Tutorial
Lecture
Free time
Tutorial
Tennis
Free time
3 pm
Free time
Study
Travel home
Free time
Lecture
Study
Free time
4 pm
Study
Lecture
Free time
Study
Study
Study
Free time
5 pm
Study
Travel home
Study
Study
Lecture
Study
Free time

You will also need to make time to study in the evenings. Don’t forget to plan some recreation time too!

'To do' lists

A ‘to do’ list can be useful to organise what to study. Below is an example of a Week 3 to do list.

Week 3 'to do' list

History101:

  • Read lecture 5 readings (text book) before the lecture and write summaries (2 hours)
  • Revise lecture 5 notes and write summaries (1 hour)

Science101:

  • Read chapter 7 of text book and write summaries (2 hours)
  • Write the results section for lab report (2 hours)

Be realistic!

It is important to be realistic. Don't set impossible goals for yourself. Here are a few things to consider:

Allow for the limitations of your attention span. Avoid scheduling large slabs of time for one subject (course). Alternating subjects for study will help you to sustain your concentration and interest.

For example, study history for two hours and then study science for another two hours, instead of studying history for four hours straight.

Remember to take occasional breaks between your studies.

Work in terms of tasks, not time. Rather than having a vague aim to 'study biology for two hours', set a particular section of work for each study period. A sense of achievement comes from successfully completing small tasks, and breaking the work up into smaller sections makes the whole process of study seem less daunting.

For example, if you plan to study a subject (course) for two hours, identify the tasks you want to do during those two hours.

  • For lecture study, it could be: read lecture 5, write summary of lecture, and complete the text book readings for lecture 6.
  • For essay writing, it could be: do research for essay and write the structure for the essay.

Review your approach. If your study plan is not working effectively, review your strategies and consider making changes.

For example, you may have attempted to fit too much into your timetable, or your timetable may not be flexible enough to accommodate unexpected events. Some minor adjustments may be all you need to stay on track.

Make sure you include some recreation time. Having fun and relaxing is important! If you allocate time for recreational activity, you will be less tempted to throw it all in and waste time avoiding study.