The exam preparation takes place on two fronts: the knowledge part and the psychology part. The two are clearly defined especially before important exams and are less seen at school papers or seminars. Let’s talk about the intelectual part for the purpose of this article.
There are people that in the same time frame seem to learn more than others, even double the ammount. They can have a high memory capacity, are better organized, etc. But that’s not all, there is one especially important action you must undertake to make sure you are successful and that’s by planning your actions until the desired outcome is achieved.
No matter where you stand in your exam or thesis preparation, you will have to do some number crunching to see what time frame you have left to prepare. Experience will help you, but better go with numbers.
Let’s take an example. You have to learn 80 pages and you think that in about five days you will be able to cut through them twice. This is where the numbers come in. The subject for which you study is a hard one and you can’t study more than two pages per day. So that’s 40 hours. You need half of that to repeat the lessons and to sum things up you will need about 12-15 hours. So we have a grand total of 72-75 hours. If you’d learn ten hours each day for that subject, you will finish in about eight days. If time is an issue, take a look at places where you can reduce the learning time (not the quality). Maybe a quarter of the subject is easier to understand or is based on things you already know.
Your planning must have a fixed number of hours for study but it also must take into account unforseen events like a sudden trip, a party, etc. Make sure to have some time at hand for other activities so that you won’t be working against the clock in stress.
A starting point can be the exam difficulty, your knowledge level and the type of exam: is it a thesis, a test paper, etc. But no matter what you are preparing for, it’s almost the same thing: what number of subjects you are learning for, how much you need to know after which get to the number crunching for each subject.
A good program will let you make adjustments here and there without affecting the study plan. You planned to study in the morning but something came up and you reschedule the study session in the evening. No problem.
Never begin without some kind of plan and make sure it’s not overkill. Better start slow and steady and work from there. But once you decide on a study plan, stick to it and follow it by the letter. Track your progress and slowly but surely, you will begin to achieve your desired goal.