Hello my lovely readers, today I have a highly requested blog post for you all. I have been getting a lot of questions on how I create my study plans and how I organize and schedule my life, today I am excited to share all the details! I also have some amazing ladies featured and they will be sharing their study plans and scheduling tips with you all too!
Sit back, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy reading!
What is a study plan?
A study plan is a written documentation of how you are going to study for an upcoming exam. I have been making study plans since the start of college, however I mostly used them around finals. This semester I am taking 19 credits and had four exams within one week and so I resisted "study plans" as a technique to be successful on these examinations. A study plan can take many different forms from printouts, using your planner, or as I will show you I used GoogleDocs.
Why do you need a study plan?
If you've never used a study plan before you might be wondering why is it even necessary. I have found it to be extremely helpful! It allows you to see exactly what you need to study, when you are going to study, and even how you are going to study. By planning all of this ahead of time you can have effective study skills just by following your plan. Without a plan it can feel extremely overwhelming to start studying. This is how I was feeling a few weeks ago when I realized I had four exams, so much organic chemistry to learn, and no clue where to start. After making these plans I ended up getting a 94, 98, and 98 on my exams (still waiting on the grade for my last one) and these scores really made me want to share these tips with you all as soon as I could.
So how did I make my study plan?
The first thing you want to do to prepare is to write a list of all the topics you covered. I just go through my notebook and make this list either on a white board as shown above or on my laptop. Warning, writing a list like this can be overwhelming! But don't worry it will help if you keep following through with this plan. Writing out every little topic that you covered in class will help you to not miss out on any material. This is especially helpful for organic chemistry because you learn so many reactions, and the one reaction you might have accidentally skipped would be the one to turn up on your exam.
So take a deep breathe, go through your notes carefully, and make your study list.
Filling in your plan
Here is my template for a daily study plan. You can use something like this or use Google Calendar. Once I have my template I start filling it in. I do this by breaking up your list of topics into smaller groups, the number of groups depends on how long you have until the exam. I always suggest studying a week before each exam. So I broke my topics up into 7 groups, for organic chemistry my last two groups would contain the practice exams that I would go through.
When making your study plan it is important to be realistic. Schedule in breaks, time for you to get lunch, and dinner and if you are studying during the week be sure to schedule in your class time, extracurriculars, and other activities.
Here are some of my finished plans:
As you see I also color coded mine, which is just an step you can add for aesthetics.
Sticking to your plan
The question I probably get asked the most is "how do you stay focused and study for so long." I am still not sure if I have a set answer for this because frankly studying comes very naturally to me, I am really focused on doing well in my classes because it will get my closer to my dream of becoming a doctor. If you're not pre-med you may not know that the average GPA for medical schools are a 3.8 to 3.9! To me, some hours studying now so that I can be a doctor later on in life is a sacrifice that is completly worth it.
So I would say when your are trying to follow your study plan:
Plan something fun to do after your exams are done, this is something you can look forward to
Keep your goals in mind, I do this via sticky notes in my room, I follow doctors on social medias, and I just focus on the reasons why I am doing what I am doing
Study with others! Just like working out with someone else can keep you motivated studying with others can do the same. You can push each other to keep going.
Finally take breaks when needed.
We are not all built the same, this is what works for me but please try to find what works best for you! I interviewed two lovely ladies to give you all a different way that you can schedule your life and study:
Stephanie's Schedule and Study Plan
Stephanie is another sophomore at the University of Maryland. She is a Behavioral and Community Health Major with a Minor in Non-Profit Leadership and Social Innovation. She is on on the Pre-PA track and is also in a BS + MPH 5 year program. She plans to pursue a PhD within a sector of public health and start a nonprofit for empowering black girls and young women!
Stephanie's Method of Scheduling
Her study plan mainly consists of prioritizing her harder classes that have exams and quizzes. For example, to study for her anatomy exam she studies 4 hours one day and then 7 hours the next day. When she doesn't have any exams or quizzes (which is rare) then she spends about an hour to each class looking over notes and working on upcoming assignments. She is also taking 19 credits and 6 classes which adds up to 6 hours of study time each day.
Her Schedule Filled In
When she's not busy with all of this she is working two jobs! So it is really crucial that she is on top of her assignments. When she has exams she usually request off from work because school comes first (amen to that). Sunday is her only free day so she uses this day to run errands and film/edit her videos for her Youtube channel.
Prioritize what is more important and what is less important
Allocate time to eat, rest, and have fun! You can't operate on an empty stomach!
Remember that time blocking is a guide. If you don't get to everything, it's ok!
You can follow Stephanie's instagram and youtube channel by clicking on each word.
Lade's Schedule and Study Plan
Lade is a Cell Biology and Genetics Major and French minor with goals to become a pharmacologist. She has a busy schedule with a job, classes, and is a ULA for the biological sciences program. She is also a student on the Dean's Advisory board and on the dance team Star Strutters. Here is how she balances it all:
On the first Sunday of every month she plans out her month by filling in both her online and paper planner with all the assignments she has due, performances, and meetings. Then weekly she resists her planner and makes sticky notes which she uses to time block all the things she wants to get done each day and she blocks out her classes and meetings. She aims to get 3-4 little assignments done each day. Since she has a busy schedule it is really important for her to make time during the day to get everything done, and she does this by planning her day accordingly.
When she is studying, she reviews notes for her important classes by re-listening to lecture and editing her lecture notes with colorful pen. For organic chemistry and math, she writes little notes on the side about the math or mechanism and then she does practice problems. Every Sunday she has a set time to meet with a classmate and study for her organic chemistry course and biology course.
Stay positive! If you do horribly it will just drive you to do better next time and learn from your mistakes
Every weekend take the time to review the material you learned that week and do practice problems
study with others from time to time
make a schedule for studying a week before your exams, this prevents cramming cause you will be able to dedicate a few hours a day to the topic.
You can follow her on instagram here.
I hope you guys found this blog helpful! As you see there are many ways that you can balance many responsibilities and schedule your life. If you try out any of the study tips mentioned please let me know! I would love to hear how they worked out for you.
Thank you to Lade and Stephanie for their amazing tips!
Thank you for reading,