Time, time, time. This is the most crucial element to take control of as the days to any major examinations begin to dwindle down. This can include steps such as fully optimizing your study time, creating a balanced study and relaxation schedule, as well as efficiently allocating your time amongst your various priorities. Here are some guidelines that can get you started on this journey!
So why a timetable? A timetable is actually one of the most popular time management systems, splitting up your time into blocks of time, allocated for specific tasks. Having a timetable is an easy way of managing the time you have in a week or day, especially since many of us are already quite accustomed to its format with our school timetables that the Singapore education system uses for primary and secondary schools.
It also has many advantages, the first being that it inculcates healthy routines. This can be achieved by setting some time related goals for yourself and building them into your timetable to create the base routine. For instance, my goal during the lead up to my IB examinations was to wake up at 7.00 am everyday, so as to leave the house promptly at 7.30 am to make it in time to my favourite Starbucks and ‘reserve’ the best study seat in the corner. My second goal was to sleep by midnight everyday, making sure I could still have a healthy seven hour sleep cycle. This formed the ‘starting’ and ‘ending’ blocks for my schedule and I built my day around these timings. Building a routine for your specific subjects is also a popular method! For instance, you can allocate Mondays to be specifically for studying literature or Wednesday to study Economics; and over time this routine becomes internalised.
The second advantage, is that a timetable allows for easy visualisation of your day or week. At a glance, you can see the activities you have planned out for their respective duration, allowing for proper optimisation of your time as well. Last but not least, a timetable helps avoid procrastination. As they say, consistency is key! Knowing that you have your time planned out already according to a routine encourages you to actually sit down and get started on the work, since you have already set the time aside for it.
As such, I would love to recommend the following platforms and applications for you to try! The most popular by far are: Google Calendar, MyStudyLife, iStudiez, and PowerPlanner. Of course, if you prefer to write out your schedule physically, invest in a good notebook/planner or you can even download and print out some schedule templates from Pinterest and Canva! Any one of these timetable methods, will definitely save you time and effort in the long run.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – this is a quote by Alan Lakein that my father used to repeat to my brothers and I while we were growing up. This quote has stuck with me throughout the years, seeing me through the ‘O’ level and IB examinations, all the way to my university school life now. Planning the months before any major examination effectively means you essentially are mapping out the different tasks and deadlines you have before then, reducing the likelihood of you missing out anything important. Furthermore, it helps you prioritise your tasks and study activities, making effective use of the time you have left before your examinations. Personally, I adopt a generalised ‘step process’ that breaks down my whole studying timeline into a few ‘milestones’ that apply across board to all my subjects (mostly humanities). After this, I attach a deadline for each specific category. This forms my entire studying overview for the months before the examination period. For example, if I have four months of studying left, I would aim to complete all study notes (based off textbooks, lecture notes, class notes) in the first month, all tutorial and lesson notes, including case studies and examples in the second month; extensive practice in the third month from past year exam papers and school given practices, followed by a last month of final revision which can include making cheat sheets and overview mind maps for each subjects’ topics. Of course, this is just a general structure that can be customised to your specific study methods and number of months you have left before the major examinations begin.
A checklist may seem very simple and basic, yet it is a very useful tool to track everything you need to study and complete before the examinations. Here, the main tip is to keep a checklist for each subject that documents the various tasks you need to cover for it, such as finally finishing your literature book, or approaching your teacher for consultation. In the last revision month especially, you can keep a checklist that lists all the topics for each subject, only ticking off the topics you have full understanding of after revision and consultation. This ensures you do not miss out any topic, and means you can easily track the topics you are weaker in. This information will come in handy when you are planning your schedule, since you can allocate more time to specific topics that have yet to be checked off.
In the lead up towards my IB examinations, I unfortunately felt the extreme stress that comes with the time crunch and hence ended up cancelling many consultations and tuition sessions. It was in the last few weeks of revision, that I began to realise I had no concrete way of plugging the gaps in my knowledge and this coupled with a lack of time to schedule any last minute consultations or tuition sessions, left me with unanswered questions even before the exams. Till today, this is the one regret I have regarding my pre-IB study period. Hence, the tip here is to know what additional help you need and stick to it! Private tutors in Singapore are highly specialised and adaptable and if you communicate that you are seeking some general revision sessions before final examinations, I am sure you will be able to find a tutor that can provide this. Other tuition services such as FamilyTutor can provide 1-to-1 home tuition as well, meaning you can have tuition from the comfort of your own home, reducing your travelling time outside which leaves more time for your studying. Of course, a benefit of external private tuition or even group tuition, is that it can provide some respite from studying when you travel outside and meet other people. Be it home tutors or private tutors that you choose, make sure you organise your schedule to accommodate the tuition that you need and prepare beforehand so that each session is as useful as it can be.
This article, written by FamilyTutor, a tuition agency providing the best private tutor in Singapore hopes that you can manage your time effectively by following these tips.
Time is indeed invaluable as once gone, it is something that cannot be regained. These tips shared – having an organised timetable, effective planning, utilising checklists and not skipping out on seeking external study help – can change the way you utilise and optimise your time greatly. As the saying goes, we all have 24 hours in a day and it is up to use how we make use of them!
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