Creating a Study Plan That Suits You…

What is a study plan?

 A study plan is an organized schedule outlining study times and learning goals. Just like with work or school schedules, college students should develop a schedule that sets aside dedicated time each week for studying. This schedule should include dates of quizzes, tests, and exams, as well as deadlines for papers and projects.

Why do I need a study plan?

A study plan is an effective way to help you navigate through your college education, and hold you accountable for your own learning outcomes.

Time management can be challenging. Besides your classes, you likely have other commitments like extracurricular activities, work, and social engagements. Creating a study plan allows you to see how you spend your time, and ensures that you are setting aside enough time outside of class to complete homework assignments, study for tests, and review and retain the information you are learning. Study plans are particularly important for On-line students, since you need to have self-discipline and determination to complete your studies without the constant reminders of an instructor.

6 tips for creating a study plan

It’s important to understand that 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.

Follow the guidelines below to get started on creating your 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? Do you retain material better if you study a subject immediately after class, or do you need a break first?

2: Evaluate your current schedule and time management – Use a digital or paper calendar to block out all of your standing commitments, including classes, work, 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 open time for studying.

3: Plan how much time you need to study for each class – For many years, the accepted rule has been that you need to study two hours for every one hour of class time, meaning that if you’re taking a typical 15-credit semester, you will spend 30 hours a week outside of class studying. There is some question about the efficacy of this ratio, especially in light of new technology that makes research and writing faster. 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 – Now that you understand how much time you need for studying, and how much time you have available, you can schedule your study sessions. 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. While it is tempting to skip your study session when there isn’t a test looming, you will reduce your future test preparation time by reading ahead and preparing for lectures.

6: Stick to your schedule – A study plan works best when it is followed consistently. You should 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.

Four strategies for sticking to your study 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.

2: Schedule time for other activities

By achieving a balance schedule, your mind will be more receptive during time devoted to studying. If you schedule several long days in a row of studying, you will get discouraged and be tempted to give up. It’s recommended that you schedule time for non-academic activities, such as exercise, hobbies, and socializing with other students.

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. If you do have a study partner, make sure it’s someone with whom you are likely to stay on task.

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.

Leverage tools for creating a study plan

If keeping a paper and pen schedule is not helpful to you, consider other ways for keeping your studies on track. Use a calendar app and set reminders when it’s time to start and end your study session. There are also a number of study planner apps like MyStudyPlanner and myHomework, which can help you manage your study schedules.

Source: intelligent.com/create-a-study-plan

Three ways on how to choose the right Third Level Course…

www.qualifax.ie, the national learning database, share a good synopsis on addressing this question, that we share with you below…

 

Selecting the best possible course is a key decision to make and often a challenging one. The stress on Leaving Certificate students is compounded by intense pressure to choose the ‘right’ CAO course before they even step onto a university / IT campus.

For a few people, choosing a course is simple: they have always wanted to be a brain surgeon or a dentist or an engineer. Others tend to choose their third-level options on the basis of the number of points they expect to achieve in the Leaving Certificate, rather than on their particular aptitudes and interests. The result is that a considerable number of students discover that they have started on courses that may be unsuitable to them. For most, however, there is simply a bewildering variety of courses, many of which involve subjects that are not taught in school. So how should you go about choosing a course?

  1. Consider your interests, skills, values and personality

This requires the individual to develop a certain degree of self-awareness. This entails asking yourself: What kind of person am I? This process of self-assessment consists of using several instruments in order to uncover your interests, personality type, work-related values, and skills. It is looking at these things in combination that can help you figure out what courses will be good matches for you and you could learn something that will surprise you. The greater the overlap between an individual’s interests, aptitudes, and personal characteristics and those required by the area of study, the greater the degree of satisfaction when engaged in that area of study. This process will help you decide which course best fits you. If you find the right course at the right college you will be inspired to succeed.

  1. Research the courses and the colleges

Make a list of courses to explore and then research each course. The Internet (websites such as Qualifax and Careers Portal are excellent online resources), college prospectuses, family and friends are your best sources of information and support. Someone who is already studying the course can give you great insight from a student’s perspective. It is important to attend college open days or other career events and make every effort to speak to lecturers, tutors or admissions staff in the colleges you are interested in, as they will facilitate your decision-making. Some 30% of third level students drop out or change course, so something is going wrong with students initial decisions. A lot of heartache can be avoided if you take the time to look at the college websites to find out not just which subjects you will be studying on your course, but also to find out the content of the individual modules of each subject. In this way, you will know exactly what lies ahead of you. Discovering that you have made the wrong choice can be upsetting and expensive.  If you decide to change course and repeat 1st year in college you will pay the full cost for that repeat year – a total of approximately 8,000 euros.

Consider options outside the CAO, such as the further education sector. Many students who do not secure the points they want for a course through the CAO, do very well in a Post-Leaving Certificate course in the discipline they want to study and then go on to secure a place in their preferred CAO course the following year.

 

Explore options in the UK and Northern Ireland at www.ucas.com and in mainland Europe at www.eunicas.ie

 

  • Identify the courses in which you are most interested and some alternatives on which to fall back if you do not get the points for your first choice
  • Give serious thought to how you will prepare to enter your chosen course: for example do you have the right subjects? There are certain subjects that are essential for entry to particular courses and colleges and it is important that you are aware of these. Check online at www.qualifax.ie
  • Make sure you meet the minimum entry requirements, for example do you require higher level Maths or Irish for your course?
  • Check out the duration of the course and additional costs such as accommodation, books and travel
  • Other factors which may need to be taken into consideration include family responsibilities, financial difficulties and disabilities that may interfere with pursuing your goals.

 

  1. Match what you have come to know about yourself (self-assessment) to a course

 

During this phase of the career planning process you will decide which course is the best fit for you based on what you now know about yourself and the courses you have researched. This will entail looking at the jigsaw pieces of your life to date and putting them together. Considering your interests, hobbies, skills, aptitudes and achievements, both academic and personal, and identifying certain personality traits combined with appropriate course exploration will hold the key to a successful course choice.

 

Source: www.qualifax.ie

How to revise like a University Challenge winner…

From using flashcards to cramming with purpose, the 2018 University Challenge Champions share their study tips in this short blog.

This year’s final saw St John’s College, Cambridge win the series trophy after impressing Jeremy Paxman with its knowledge of organic chemistry, Anselm of Canterbury and bird poets. But this isn’t merely a team of endearing nerds. Students sitting exams have much to learn from the work ethic of the St John’s squad. Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, John-Clark Levin and James Devine-Stoneman were asked for their revision tips.

Go in with a strategy

The team first prepared for the show by scouring YouTube videos of old episodes to find common topics – and the same approach works with past exam papers, says McKeown. They’ll help you ‘suss’ your weaknesses and the course structure. More so than learning the content of the course, it’s about working out what you need to know and then using your time as efficiently as possible. People approach revision as something separate from the work you’ve been doing all year, which is a mistake. If you look at it as part of the process, then it’s less daunting.”

Repeat to perfection 

Don’t get too complacent about the topics you think you know well, team captain Devine-Stoneman advises. “I try to cover a topic at multiple points in the run-up to the exam. A month or two beforehand, I run through my notes again and again in the days leading up to it. If you don’t have much time, make sure the things you do know, you can ace. It’s usually better to go in with a selection of things you can do very well than a half-hearted knowledge of a range of things.” That way, Hazell adds, you can always try to steer an awkward question back to something you know.

Use flashcards

The team is big on flashcards. Devine-Stoneman uses an app when he gets a free moment in the lab as a PhD student in materials science. McKeown also uses them for both her languages degree and quizzing. “I’ll focus on flashcards in the last steps before the exam,” she says. “I tend to use different colours. Nice stationery is a motivation for me.”

Take breaks with rewards

The team agrees it’s important to have a rewards system in place when studying. McKeown says she always has a puzzle book or novel on the go. “Organise yourself so you don’t have to revise all through the night. It’s good to relax in the evening. There comes a point when you stop absorbing information.”

Cram with purpose

“I’m big on last-minute cramming,” says Hazell. “I’m quite aggressive in setting goals. If there are three days before an exam, with 24 lectures to revise, set daily targets so you can feel like you’re making progress and you’ll have covered everything.” And if you run out of time, “know when to cut your losses”, he says. “If there’s a small area of the syllabus that’s going to take a huge amount of time to revise, I ditch it.” At this point, “it’s about making sure you know what you know in more detail”.

Source: theguardian.com

www.qualifax.ie  

www.qualifax.ie   

www.qualifax.ie is Ireland’s National Learners’ Database and is the “one stop shop” for learners and the public.   Comprehensive, annually updated information is provided about further and higher education and training options in Ireland and further afield. Articles and links are also provided to assist students, job seekers, parents, guidance professionals and graduates to make informed choices for education, training and career pathways.

Qualifax is a service provided by Quality and Qualifications Ireland  (www.qqi.ie).

If you are looking for the widest range of education and training programmes in Ireland or considering further or higher education and training or unsure of which Leaving Certificate subjects to take, Qualifax aims to provide Guidance Professionals with extensive information about programmes and career choices.

www.qualifax.ie aims to support individuals of all ages and backgrounds to make informed and confident career choices and help answer the following questions:

  • Are you or someone you know not sure about what to study at university or college?
  • Have dropped out of college and are not sure of what to do next?
  • Have graduated from college or university and is unsure what direction to take next?
  • Are considering a career change or returning to education or training?

www.qualifax.ie is linked to the National Framework Qualification (NFQ) and is intended to put the learner at the centre of the education and training system in Ireland.  The NFQ is a system of ten levels. It incorporates awards made for all kinds of learning, from initial learning to Doctorate, wherever the learning is gained. For example, the Irish Junior Certificate is at NFQ Level 3, apprenticeship qualifications are at a number of NFQ Levels, the Honours Bachelor Degree is at NFQ Level 8 and the Doctoral Degree is at NFQ Level 10. The NFQ provides a structure (a framework) to compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications, helping you to make informed decisions about qualification choices and to consider what options might be available for further studies. The NFQ also makes it easier to explain to others what qualifications one holds or are studying for. This becomes very important when considering further learning and applying for a job.

 

(Source: www.qualifax.ie)