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Planning Study Time

Handout from 2003 Orientation Session

  1. Use daylight hours: research shows that 60 minutes of study during the day is the equivalent of 90 minutes of study at night (Pauk, 1989, p. 45).
  2. Study soon after lecture type courses: retention and understanding are aided by a review of your lecture notes immediately after class: eg., one study showed that students who wrote a 5-minute review test following a lecture remembered one and a half times as much material as students who did not review, when tested 6 weeks later (Pauk, 1989, p. 104).
  3. List and do tasks according to priorities: remember Parkinsons' law that "work expands to fill the time available for its completion." If you allot 2 hours to read 10 pages, it'll probably take you 2 hours to complete this 30 min. task.
  4. Start long jobs ahead of time: avoids cramming and the resultant poor quality ("If only I had more time...")
  5. Discover how long to study: as a rough starting guide, for every hour in class you should plan to study for two hours outside of class. Then, adjust up or down as necessary to achieve your goals.
  6. Plan blocks of time: in general, optimum efficiency is reached by planning to study in blocks of one hour -- 50 min of study followed by a 10-min break (Pauk, 1989, p. 45). Shorter periods are fine for studying notes and memorizing materials. Longer periods are often needed for problem solving tasks and for writing papers.
  7. Have an agenda for each study period: be specific regarding the task that you hope to accomplish during each planned study period.
  8. Use spare blocks to review notes and for study groups: We have found that students can get most of their studying done in a normal "work day" if they treat school as an 8-6 job.

For more study tips, drop by the Counselling Services!

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