In part 2 of our Exam Study posts, we have a look at SCHEDULING STUDY TIME.

Parents often ask us for how long children should be studying in one stretch – This really can differ from student to student. You may have a student who gets really absorbed in the material and can study for long stretches, or you may have a student who gets really distracted and struggles to maintain focus in a study session. This being said, Research informs us that the optimum length of time in which the brain can process information and maintain attention is around the 25 minute mark. 

Based on the Pomodoro technique designed by Francesco Cirillo, this method of scheduling time slots to study can help bust procrastination and ensure better concentration. 

It works like this:

Here’s a short video on the concept:

With the above in mind, your ‘to-do’ list of tasks and activities for the day may look something like this (an example from a Grade 9 student):

You will notice:

  • Each weekday slot represents 30 minute slots, whilst the weekend slots represent hour slots. Breaks at the 25 minute mark would need to be factored in. 
  • This young man blocked out times to study with bold black koki pens.  It is important to realise that life can happen – you may have more homework than this young man had coming into the exam, and the slots may need to be flexible, but the intention to study the number of slots can be followed, even if they don’t happen at that specific time. 
  • Downtime: This young man made the decision that he would not study after his match on a Friday, but would rather fit in some more time beyond what he scheduled for the weekend (i.e., another hour between 5-6pm if he hadn’t yet finished the sections he set out, or to complete homework/projects). This particular young man has been dilligent in keeping up with making notes during the term, so he has saved himself some hard work as his notes are largely already in order! If one is somewhat behind on notes, it may be necessary to add up to  four Pomodoro slots on a Friday, after a decent break following the match – this would depend on each student and his level of preparation. This would look different as he moves up the grades, where he will need to put in additional study time over weekends.
  • There is a space to fill in OPEN period activities, such as support classes or homework/study note slots. 
  • When choosing the order of subjects to study, one could start with the ones you find tricky, where you may need a really fresh mind, and end off later in the day with those subjects in which you feel a bit more comfortable and may come to you easier. Generally two slots of 25 minutes with a 5 minute break can make up one subject, and then the next two slots can represent a different subject. 
  • Subjects: Some boys like to look at the upcoming week and add the subjects to study in pencil. Some choose to finish all of the subject notes and move on to the next subject, although one may run the risk of running out of time to complete notes and study for all of the subjects. By looking at the full week, you can divide your time up between your subjects. 
  • It is never too late! You can start today, and be further then you were yesterday, and closer to being prepared today!

You can use this online timer to help measure and track your study session – Pomodoro Tracker.  

You are welcome to pop into the BSU for a blank timetable schedule, or to ask for help to draw one up.