Scott Young, an expert in learning, recently shared a blog post titled ‘Seven Steps for Making a Solid Studying Plan‘ that provides guidance on creating and sticking to an effective study plan, including steps for organizing learning materials, scheduling study time, monitoring progress, and making adjustments as needed.
Scott Young learns for a living.
Well, more correctly he learns about learning and shares what he learns via blogs, programs, newsletters, books and podcasts.
He likely knows more about learning than you and I will ever know. Hence, I enjoy his newsletters because it always a chance to find a gem that is useful for me or for you.
He recently penned a blog called ‘Seven Steps for Making a Solid Studying Plan‘. As we head into the end of Semester 1 and towards exams, it is a good time to reflect on whether your study plan for Semester 1 has been effective or whether you might want to upgrade in Semester 2.
If you are thinking of an upgrade, the article explains how to make a studying plan and how to stick to it. It outlines seven steps that organize what you have to learn, how you’re going to learn it, and when you’re going to invest the time.
Step 1 is about knowing what you have to learn. It involves a review of your materials to figure out what you need to watch/read/review, what practice activities you need to engage in, what required deliverables (essays/homework) you need to complete, and how you will need to use the skills and knowledge you’ve gained.
Steps 2 to 4 are about the when. They involve calculating the minimum time required to process the materials, allocating that time in your schedule/calendar, and then adding some extra for additional study needs.
Step 5 is what he calls the ‘sanity check’. It is a chance to review whether the time you are allocating to study is sufficient to get through the amount you have to learn. It is common to underestimate the amount of time necessary to work fully through a project/topic, so a regular check-in on the calculations you’ve made in Steps 1-4 is advised.
Step 6 is about keeping track of a) if you are sticking to your schedule and b) if you are making progress with the actual learning.
If the answer to either is ‘no’, then you know some aspect of the plan needs adjusting, that is, Step 7. This might include changes to your schedule, goals or how you are learning.
So when should one be preparing a study plan?
There are a couple of sensible times of the year to develop a study plan. The first is at the beginning of a Semester, once you have a sense of each of your topics, their assignments/assessments and your schedule outside of study. The second is the lead-in to exams, where you create a plan for your revision. You might also do a study plan in the middle of Semester if you feel you are falling behind and need a reset.
You’ll notice that the steps in Scott’s aren’t so much focused on the process of learning but the scheduling and tracking of one’s study activities. For more detail on specific study strategies, visit our Evidence-based Study and Exam Preparation Tips document.