How to manage your time effectively during the Law exam season
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The dreaded words… Exam season. When you hear these words do you think of lack of sleep, unhealthy meals, and a lack of social life? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, this blog is for you! Time management isn’t easy, even at the best of times, but paired with looming exams and a bigger workload than usual, stress comes into play and can make things more difficult. But difficult does not mean impossible! We have put together some tips to follow for things you can do to make the most of your time during exam season.
Lists, lists, and more lists!
Planning is crucial and can be overwhelming when you have multiple deadlines and exams
approaching. In my experience, the best way to overcome the initial feeling of being overwhelmed is to make lists some time before exam season starts. Start by making a ‘master list’. This should include each deadline and the date & time, in order of soonest to latest due date. From there, make a separate list for each deadline, and include everything you need to do for each one. Making these big lists might make you feel swamped to begin with, but these are going to be your bases for the period of exam season which you will refer to.
With the big list from each deadline, you will be able to make smaller to-do lists weekly, and even daily. This seems simple but breaking down the big lists week by week makes the task more manageable – rather than cramming one big list into a few days! After a couple of weeks, the big to do list won’t seem so daunting when you have already crossed lots of
Treat this period as a 9-5 job
This was a piece of advice a lecturer gave me in my first year of law school, and it stuck with me and is a great way to manage your time throughout the week. Depending on your workload, this may not need to be 9-5, but between Monday and Friday, consider having a set period of hours that you sit at your desk, or go to the library for, and focus solely on studying. The other benefit of this is that you have peace of mind outside of the ‘9-5’ studying hours knowing your ‘shift’ is done and you should take this time for non-examrelated activities such as hobbies, exercise, socialising, and relaxing. The same goes for the weekend – if you stick to your ‘shifts’ throughout the week, then you will have time to relax over the weekend. Of course, as with a job, you will sometimes have to put in overtime, whether this be a longer session or working on the weekend, but this shouldn’t be the case for every day.
It goes without saying that not everyone is able to treat studying as a 9-5 job, as some students have jobs already! However, the principle of regular study sessions is the same, and these can be structured around your own working days and hours.
This point follows from the last one, as exam season should not ruin your sleep pattern. Treating it as a 9-5 job will help you to avoid falling into late nights, which do not help you study effectively. If you are more of an evening person to study, consider moving the ‘9-5’ period to later on in the day. However, you should ensure that you have time in the evenings to have dinner and get to bed around the same time every night. Try and wake up around the same time in the mornings, too. These are small things, but doing this will give your days structure, which is important during exam season as stresses are higher, so having a routine will help you to feel more productive.
Consider using additional resources
This is optional, and not essential to passing your exams! However, using additional resources such as pre-written notes and tutor sessions is one way you can make the most of your time. Using pre-written notes is a great way to build a base of what you need to know, meaning you can focus more on consolidation rather than writing revision notes. Further, getting a short-term tutor could be an idea if you have a few topics you’re struggling with to get a better understanding, meaning you can spend more time consolidating and practising
rather than trying to understand the content.
Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks is crucial during exam season, as the last thing you want to be faced with burn out. One technique to follow is the ‘pomodoro method’. This is the idea that you should study for 25 minutes and have a break for 5 minutes. This can work well if you are revising, such as flashcards. However, personally, when it comes to essay writing, I prefer to have a longer study period (40-45 minutes) and then have a longer (10-15 minute) break. It is also important to get up, even if it’s walking to grab a drink and back – just to get moving and have a change of scenery.
Overall, as you’ll see, this list is comprised of lots of small tips. But used together, they can have a huge impact on your mindset during exam season, and this will keep you motivated and productive. The key is that your life outside of studying should not and does not need to fall apart because of exams! Having time to cook (meal prepping can be handy), wind down, and sleep are essential and should not be neglected. There’s only one thing left to say, which is: GOOD LUCK! You’ve got this!