It is almost exactly eight weeks until my first exam. The schedule is printed and framed on my desk so there is no mistaking the timeline. Since the last few weeks have been so busy professionally, I have had to adjust my study plan. An hour each morning and an hour at night have been all the time available. I do not feel too far behind, but I also feel that I am a bit behind. This weekend I made some notes about how to manage the next four weeks then begin to revise in April.
This weekend Jelly Bean and I were snowed in at the farm with a stack of study guides and some wonderful secondary reading. It always helps to put the texts I expect to revise into context and test what I know about specific literary periods and genres. All that homework was very reassuring, but because of some work projects, I was only able to spend half the time I wanted to on study goals.
For me, knowing my schedule is going to be disrupted by work or other obligations helps me to stay calm about slipping farther behind. At this time of year, prioritizing study time becomes important. Having a plan for the next eight weeks helps me be certain that my study process gets the time and attention needed for success at exam time. Here is an idea of what my schedule for March and April will be like.
My exam schedule looks like this: 6 May ‘Modern American Literature’, 9 May ‘Victorian Literature’, 13 May ‘The Novel’, and 14 May ‘Nineteenth-Century American Literature’. I worked backwards to make my April revising. Right now I feel equally prepared for all of my courses, so I will concentrate on making my revision efforts flow smoothly into exams.
Working backwards to make a plan helps me. I imagine myself walking into the room for each exam and itemize what preparation will make me feel most confident at that moment. During the month of March, I will dedicate one week to complete study preparations for each course then in April revise texts and secondary materials for the approaching exams.
Here is my schedule:
3 – 9 March: Victorian Literature
10 – 16 March: The Novel
17-23 March: Nineteenth-century American Literature
24-30 March: Modern American Literature
April Revising Schedule:
31 March – 20 April: revising The Novel and Nineteenth-Century American Literature
21 April – 3 May: revising Victorian Literature and Modern American Literature
These groupings should help me manage overlapping material from different courses and cover all the material I need to focus on.
This year I have some space between exams, with only my last two exams scheduled on consecutive days, which is a big relief. All of my exams are scheduled at 10:00 am this term, which will also be very helpful. Here is what my exam weeks will be like:
4 & 5 May: Revising Modern American Literature
6 May: Exam Day! Modern American Literature
7 & 8 May: Revising Victorian Literature
9 May: Exam Day! Victorian Literature
10 May – 12 May: revising The Novel and Nineteenth- Century American Literature
13 May: Exam Day! The Novel
14 May: Exam Day! Nineteenth-Century American Literature
It is time for some mental focus and stress management exercises. The weather and my work deadlines have me a bit behind on the first day. As of now, there is no flexibility in my study schedule. Our CEO and I agreed that I would not have to travel until after exams. It will be late nights and early mornings, no matter what my work schedule brings. It is very exciting, and despite the pressure, I am really looking forward to exams!
Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. She lives in Pittsburgh in the United States.