Exam year: Plan and also organise your time

This week we publish a five-day series by ALAN WHITE to help students and parents get through exam season. Today, in part two, the second level teacher and wellbeing author talks about organisation
Exam year: Plan and also organise your time

Many schools offer after school study or the local library can also offer a space where students can find peace and quiet. Picture:Stock

For every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned” – Benjamin Franklin

ONE of the keys to success in any activity is being organised. When it comes to exams organisation is a crucial yet often overlooked skill. Although it doesn’t come naturally to many of us, it is a skill that can be learned. If you are not inherently tidy and structured it is possible to plan and organise your time and space. Here are some of the things that students can do to help them become more organised.

KEEP A STUDY PLANNER

A weekly planner and study timetable will help to make your study time more effective. No doubt students have a school journal that is crammed full of homework and assignments. It is easy for study plans to become lost in this, so what I suggest is a personal study journal. In this journal have a weekly planner and set out your goals for that week. By doing this students are setting out a clear plans, targets that they can aim to meet and when a piece of work is completed, it can be ticked off and the accomplishment acknowledged. This method will build momentum and motivation.

When students have completed revision targets its common to panic afterwards and feel that they don’t know something well enough. In this case I suggest doing the best they can and moving on to avoid procrastination. They can then plan to revise the topic they are concerned about again in the future.


ORGANISE YOUR TIME

It is humanly impossible to study every evening and weekend. There comes a point where, if we try to do too much, study can become counterproductive. Once students have completed tasks it’s important that they reward themselves with a break and do something enjoyable or relaxing. It’s also important to plan for time off during the week. Over the course of the next few months the time spent not studying will become as important as the time spent revising.

When planning revision goals, students need to prioritise areas that they need to cover. This will be different for every student depending on the areas they are strong in and the areas that need improvement. This will allow students to work at a clam and structured pace and will help to avoid the panic studying on the run up or the night before the exams. This approach will maximise learning as well as developing a student’s sense of control over their revision, which will in turn reduce stress.

CREATE AND ORGANISED PHYSICAL SPACE

The final few months leading up to the exams can be extremely busy for students. When our lives become chaotic our thought processes can mirror this and in turn can become overly critical and negative. Our inner worlds reflect our outer experiences. One way that we can help soothe this chaos is by organising and tidying our personal space. This will not only provide students with an organised space in which they can study, but will also provide sanctuary and a little peace from the business of their day to day lives.

However it’s not always possible for students to have a dedicated study space in busy homes and many often find themselves trying to study at the kitchen table or on their bed.

Although not ideal, once this space is quiet and clutter free, students will be able to revise in these conditions. If a student cannot revise effectively at home it’s important to look at alternatives.

Many schools offer after school study or the local library can also offer a space where students can find peace and quiet. It might even be possible to study at a grandparent’s house, which is where I studied for my final exams in UCC. Peace and quiet and lots of tea and biscuits! (Remember parents and grandparents, its ok for stressed exam students to be spoiled a little!).

ORGANISING MATERIALS

Many students find it difficult to settle down to work as they spend a lot of time trying to find the correct book, copy and revision notes. Students are given a lot of different notes, handouts, essays etc. over the course of the year and it’s important that these are organised in a way that they can easily refer back to. Homework such as essays and class tests should be filed for later reference as they can be an important source of feedback on areas that need improvement.

One way of organising the huge volume of information students need to contend with is by using a large plastic folder with a zip. They can then put everything to do with each specific subject into the folder. This will allow easy access to materials and prevent important work from getting lost.

ASKING FOR HELP

It can be a lot for students to be expected to be organised by themselves as well as contending with everything else being thrown at them. They may need help to become more organised and it can be a great way for parents to help their child. Encouraging and helping with organisation skills will also have the added benefit of showing that you are interested and supportive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan White is a second level teacher at Bishopstown Community School and Wellbeing Author. He also facilitates wellbeing workshops for companies and organisations. For more information visit www.changeswellbeing.ie linkedin Alan White or facebook Changes Wellbeing.

Tomorrow Alan writes about Study and Stress.

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