Thanks to Sir Mick (LSE) for this perspective. To expand on last week’s conversation, time is on my side, as long as I use it wisely. While working out my study plan this term I thought about using time for reading primary texts, critical reading and essay writing; and also for developing research, reading and essay writing skills. Many students question how much time they require for tasks like reading texts and criticism, writing essays, or how much time to study generally. Forming an effective study plan is not easy. I look for ways to identify my biggest challenges and get the most from my time and effort.
Getting the most from my time was the topic of several professional seminars I attended this summer. I got some great tips which help me achieve better results in limited time; they also help me to cover a greater amount of material more confidently.
Tips from professional colleagues include ending each night by scheduling specific time the next day for all tasks and priorities. Thinking about study priorities helps my focus and results. I schedule exactly what I intend to accomplish in my allotted study time. This is how I ‘micromanage’ my time. I don’t just schedule time to read or write; instead I schedule precisely what I will read or write, what reading, note taking, or writing method to use and what results I expect from the study session.
My study sessions at the beginning of term allow two weeks for each text I want to read closely. I organize the day into four blocks. At the start of the day I schedule one or two hours; in the afternoon I schedule two thirty minute blocks then an additional ninety minutes or two hours at the end of the day. The morning session is for critical reading and writing; short afternoon sessions are for close reading, recall work and thinking time. The end of the day is for re-engaging with primary texts.
In week one I re-read the primary texts at night; I use the mornings to write notes about theme, character, plot and other topics from the previous evening’s study. The second week I use morning hours to focus on chapter questions from the Study Guide. On Monday I analyze the questions; for example what are key terms, and what does the question expect me to accomplish. Tuesday mornings I outline all the points the questions address; on Wednesday I re-write the questions as thesis statements for different potential arguments. Thursday mornings involve noting what textual references and critical arguments my essays need to reference. Friday morning I write outlines of my essays.
Writing essays under exam conditions means time must be on my side; over the term I have to use my time in very specific ways to develop retention, organization and writing skills. If time is on my side now, if I manage my study time effectively, time will be on my side in exams. Thank you again Sir Mick.