Preparing for Exams: Part Two: Goal Chart

Preparing for Exams

by Owen Fourie

~ Part Two: Goal Chart ~

In the previous article on this subject, we looked at the strategy that should be followed in your studies. Learning for life is to be preferred to studying for exams. Having an interest in what you are studying helps this perspective.

What happens if you find that you have not followed this strategy? Examination time is near, and you have not been applying yourself to your studies.

I haven’t cracked a book! What should I do?

What follows is not the ideal situation, but it can be of practical benefit to those who find themselves in the circumstances that are described here. It is far too common, and it would be good if it did not exist at all. The reality, though, is that it happens, so here is a strategy to help you.

A student asked me, in May, what she should do to study for her exams that were scheduled to take place in August. Evidently, she had not applied herself to any studies and had begun to realize that a lot was at stake and that she needed a plan to get through the material.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can adapt this plan to meet your particular need.

Do the math: How much time? How much material?

It turned out that this student had 14 weeks in which to prepare. Working solidly on her studies for six days each week and taking a break on one day per week, would give her 84 days that she could use. This is what I advised, and I am setting it down here to help you:

On your computer, open a word processing document.

  • Insert a table in this document.
  • Select 100 rows (14 weeks x 7 days = 98 plus another two rows for the overall heading and the column headings).
  • Select five columns if you have four subjects to study; six columns if you have five subjects.
  • Allow for an additional column on the left for the day and date.
  • Plan to study each text daily for five days.
  • Use the sixth day to review what you have studied and use the seventh day for a break.
  • Enter the page numbers of the various texts, or the assigned parts of those texts, that you will be studying in each column and row of the table.

Let’s apply this to one text of 350 pages:

  • In the relevant column, you will enter for the first five days (rows) “1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25.”
  • On day (row) 6, you will write “review 1-25.”
  • On day (row) 7, write “break” or “rest.”

Do this for each text. Obviously, you have to allow for the inclusion of every text that needs to be studied

To explain the above example: In the 14 weeks, you study 5 days per week, so 14 x 5 = 70 study days. Divide a text of 350 pages by 70 days. This means 5 pages per day in that particular text. Apply the same formula to each text, substituting the correct number of weeks and the number of pages in the text.

Your goal chart

An incomplete tabulation is given below to illustrate this suggestion. This plan is deliberately simplistic. It is for you to adapt it to the complexities of your situation.

Remember that the better course of action for your studies is to start as soon as possible after the academic year has begun. The table can be extended and used for that purpose too.

This is your goal chart. Stay on schedule by a consistent daily effort, and you will succeed.

History, BA Honors

DATE World History:

(1) McNeill & McNeill

(2) David Christian

Techniques & Methods:

Jordanova

European History:

(1) Bartlett

(2) MacCulloch

(3) Anderson

British History:

(1) Morgan

(2) Kearney

American History:

(1) Nash

(2) Morgan

Mon 5/9 (1) 1-5

(2) 1-10

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Tue 5/10 (1) 6-10

(2) 11-20

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Wed 5/11 (1) 11-15

(2) 21-30

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Thu 5/12 (1) 16-20

(2) 31-40

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Fri 5/13 (1) 21-25

(2) 41-50

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Sat 5/14 (1) review 1-25

(2) review 1-50

review (1) review

(2) review

(3) review

(1) review

(2) review

(1) review

(2) review

Sun 5/15 B R E A K
Mon 5/16 (1) 26-30

(2) 51-60

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Tue 5/17 (1) 31-35

(2) 61-70

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Wed 5/18 (1) 36-40

(2) 71-80

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Thu 5/19 (1) 41-45

(2) 81-90

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Fri 5/20 (1) 46-50

(2) 91-100

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Sat 5/21 (1) review 26-50

(2) review 51-100

review (1) review

(2) review

(3) review

(1) review

(2) review

(1) review

(2) review

Sun 5/22 B R E A K
Mon 5/23 (1) 51-55

(2) 101-110

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

Tue 5/24 (1) 56-60

(2) 111-120

(1)

(2)

(3)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

~ and so on ~

You might find this easier to do on a spreadsheet application. Use whatever system you wish, but aim to accomplish your ultimate goal by setting these daily targets.

—–

What is your strategy for dealing with situations where you have only a few weeks before an exam and have not yet begun to study in earnest for it? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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