For Students

How to Create a Study Plan that Works for You

Use these tips to create a study plan that suits your personal goals and needs!

Eleanor Maclaren
Operations Manager
February 10, 2023
min read

Having a schedule for your study can help to maintain motivation and discipline when preparing for exams. Starting this practice while at school will also help if you’re thinking about undertaking further study in the future.


Here are some key principles to consider when designing your ideal study plan, and when implementing it in practice:

1.   Remember the non-negotiables that you need to set time aside for

It’s important to maintain balance throughout your study period. Keep some time free in your study schedule for activities besides schoolwork that you enjoy, whether that may be going for a run, reading, practising an instrument or watching some TV.

2. Time-blocking

Break your daily study time into smaller blocks. It’s a good idea to consider how long you are able to focus on a particular topic or subject for, and work from there. Make sure you’re finishing at a reasonable time each day, so you can unwind and get a good night’s sleep.

3. Variation

Once you’ve established your time blocks, try to change what you are studying each block. If you spend the whole day on the same topic, you may get bored and lose focus. It can also work well to schedule the topics you find most mentally demanding for the time when you’re most alert, potentially in the morning when you’re starting out for the day.

4. Schedule in breaks

 You should take breaks between blocks of time, or more regularly if you need to. Give yourself time for meals and snacks, and to recharge so you can focus while you are studying.

5. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

When you start deciding when to study each topic and subject, identify areas that need the most work, and where you feel more confident. Allocate more of your time to your areas of weakness, and a bit less where you already know the content well. 

6. Have a logical sequence

Think about a logical order to arrange your tasks throughout the study period. It usually works best to make sure you have studied the content before you attempt numerous practice exams. However, don’t leave it too close to the exam to start doing practice exams – this is the best way to test your knowledge.

7. Be flexible

Once you have your study plan, you don’t need to hold yourself to it rigidly. If you finish a task done more quickly than you expect or you’re feeling worn out, you can take a break early. Alternatively, if you don’t get something done in a planned block of time, it’s fine to adjust your plan so you have an opportunity to finish it later on.

Other things to think about once you start your revision:

  • Should you study with music/background noise? Everyone has different preferences for what helps them focus best while studying. Some people find music helpful, whereas others find it distracting. If lyrics are unhelpful but you like some background noise, try lo-fi music or pink noise instead. This may also depend on what work you’re doing at the time.


  • Is it better to study alone, or with friends/peers? Sometimes studying with peers can be a distraction, but it may also be helpful to hear how another person would tackle a problem and gain other perspectives in a study group.
  • Where is the best place to study? Some people like to study at home, but studying at a public library or at school if this is an option could be an alternative if you may be disturbed at home.
  • Is it better to type or hand write while you are studying? Once again, everyone has different preferences. However, typing out notes is helpful to get large amounts of text down quickly, edit documents, and search for concepts efficiently. For practice exams, it is great to do them under the exact conditions you will need to work during your exams. For example: consider acquiring copies of official answer booklets to write your answers in if you are doing handwritten exams.

Example of a study plan for exam revision:

I created the following study plan to prepare for IB exams. I divided my day into 2-hour blocks, as this was the maximum amount of time I liked to spend on a subject or topic. I also allocated 30 minute breaks, and scheduled activities outside study, particularly exercise, which helped me to be more productive during my study.

I planned out two weeks of study in the timetable, and started by completing my notes and writing summaries. I planned to start practice questions and exams gradually as I became more confident in my knowledge of the content. 

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