Each semester we get emails from students wanting to know whether it is a good idea to make a study plan for the semester. They often think they are the only one struggling with
fitting study and work together
staying on top of the content
being prepared for tutorials
getting assessments done on time
knowing how much study to do (and how much reading) and
not getting overwhelmed .
As one student recently wrote:
I am currently a JD student. While I've passed all my subjects to date, I feel like my marks aren't matching my potential, or my understanding of the subject matter.
Is this something you can help with? I'd love to discuss creating a study plan for this coming semester, and also to get ideas on who early to prepare for exams (they make me really miserable).
These conversations are always really productive. There is a process to them that anyone can use. First, we get all the relevant information on the courses the student is studying - class times, assessment dates and course outlines. This way we can get a really clear idea of how the course is structured, where the assessments are placed and what each involves and how many hours of study each course requires.
We then use a calendar and plan backwards. We add in the class and tutorial times, assessment dates and teaching breaks for each course, plus any other major commitments the student has such a regular work, caring responsibilities or holidays.
Next we plan! We match the assessment tasks with the topic content to determine key study weeks. We assess how much reading and preparation each assessment will require and how this fits with the overall course load.
We also identify two dates for each assessment - the ideal date to start preparing the assessment and (if other all else fails) the last date to start working on assessment. Finally, if there is an exam in the course we carefully timetable when and how to structure revision, plus what needs to be completed by the week before the exam.
Even students who have been studying for a few years find these sessions really helpful. They often feel relieved that they know what to do when, and realise that it doesn't look so bad when it is all planned out. Many also realise that they have been making common mistakes such as
studying more than they need to - particularly at the start of the course and then not enough in the middle or at the end of the course
starting their revision for an exam too early or too late
taking too many notes/not enough notes or the wrong kind of notes
not allowing enough time to review their assessments (and why this is so important in law).