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Near the end of Term 1, we are going to be sitting our first proper exam block for the HSC – Our half yearly exams. HSC Trials are not that far behind that, when you think about it. These exam blocks are tough – They assess months worth of content at a time, and the exams are often crammed into two weeks, or even one. Compared to the HSC, you’ve also got much less time to study – And perhaps even assignments to keep you busy too. There is lots to do! One of the big questions to ask at around this time is; How do I make a good study timetable?
You are going to need to have a study timetable which ensures you cover everything that you need to cover for your exams. With a month before an exam block, that’s 5-7 subject’s worth of content to revise in 30 days, and that is intense. You are going to need an effective schedule. This article is going to cover some tips and tricks to ensure that you make a timetable that maximizes your performance in any upcoming exams.
Before you read the rest of this article, take a read of this article I wrote on the Stages of Study. I wrote about the different stages of study, how the hours you put into your subjects actually have different returns depending on how much work you do. It is this concept that, for me, is vital to creating a useful study timetable that will balance your time effectively.
Even this exercise by itself is something I find super beneficial. The first thing you should do to create your study timetable is make an honest evaluation of how you are going in those subjects. This isn’t just the marks. It is about how confident you feel in exams, how confident you are with the content, how much you are actually interested in the subject. Take all of these and make a list of your subjects from the weakest subject to the strongest. Be honest.
This list will likely change often; I know mine did. Around Trials, my list would have looked like this:
English was at the top because it probably always was; it was definitely my most challenging subject, all things considered. I was really stressing about major works and performances for Music, hence the high spot. Etc, etc.
This list is going to help you prioritise your time correctly in your study timetable.
Basically, you need to set aside specific times throughout the week where you sit down and do HSC related work. “Some time on Saturday” doesn’t quite cut it. You are far more likely to stick to specific deadlines and schedules, so, you literally need specific timeslots for your study timetable. Be specific with this bit and you can be a little more lenient in a second.
When doing this, remember to take into account work commitments, your energy levels at different times of the day, and anything else that you think is important (time with your partner, etc.).
How many hours to allocate? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, only you can know how much study you need to achieve. There are two baselines which I kind of like to start:
This is a question that you need to answer on your own. Again, be honest with yourself, and very importantly, don’t be afraid to try one configuration, then ditch it if it doesn’t work for you. Trial and error is the best way to success (unless you are launching a rocket to Mars). You also need to decide whether to include homework in these slots, which is something that I did not do. My study times were additional to homework, but integrating them may work better for you.
Okay, this is the good bit. Let’s assume you have 24 hours on your study timetable allocated throughout a regular week. You can always add more near exams, but this is what you have now. The job now is to populate the study timetable based on how you think you are going in your subjects.
Again, this is something that might take some trial and error to get the balance right. However, what you should keep in mind in general is that your study timetable needs to focus on your weaknesses, while still addressing your strengths. Also take into account how demanding study for that subject is (major works are a killer).
For me, I might divide the 24 hours in my study timetable like so:
English Advanced: 3 hours
Music 1: 4 hours
Studies of Religion: 2.5 hours
Legal Studies: 2.5 hours
Math Extension 1: 2 hours
Physics: 2 hours
Mathematics: 2 hours
This amounts to 18 hours of study, which leaves me just over an hour a day to do homework tasks.
The end result of these first three steps should be a timetable that has time slots allocated for specific subjects in a way that makes sense given your current strengths and weaknesses. This allocation might work, or you might realize it needs tweaking down the line. Remember, trial and error!
To use the timetable, you need to allocate exactly what you’ll do during each hour! This is something that you might want to do every Sunday for the week ahead. Personally, I did it every day. I would get home and while having a bit of a relax I’d look at any study blocks I had for that evening, then I might do something like this:
4:30 – 5:30: Homework Tasks
6:30 – 8:30: PHYSICS STUDY BLOCK
9:00 – 10:30: LEGAL STUDIES BLOCK
I allocated tasks into my study timetable every day so I could stay flexible, add assignment work if I needed to, get called in for a shift at work if I needed to. In general, I believe that if you are rigid with the type of work you are doing, then as long as you are doing something, you can be a little more lenient with exactly what you get up to. Just keep to do lists, and ensure that every block on your study timetable focuses on crossing something off of that to do list.
Using your study timetable should be easy. It shouldn’t add to your workload; it should lessen it! With this in mind, there are a few methods you can use:
Pretty much, make your study timetable suit you. Make it something you are proud of, and importantly, make it easy to be proud of yourself for all the hard work you are putting in.
Want to ask a question about any HSC subject? This is where to ask!