Well now, shouldn’t the title really be ‘how to make a schedule that makes YOU work’?
Or, should it?
It is important, that you have a schedule that works for you in terms of being realistic, practical, feasible and, at the same time, goal-oriented. A logical, long-term study plan will only be feasible if you take these factors into account while creating your plan.
So, here’s how to make a schedule that works:
1.Fit prep into existing schedule instead of fitting schedule according to prep: Making drastic changes in your daily routine will not prove to be beneficial in the long run. Your study time should seamlessly fit in your schedule. You have to be reasonable in setting out what all you can do. Of course you have to make some changes such as rescheduling some activities, cutting down some time you would spend on non-productive activities (watching tv comes to mind). But if you expect you’d be a completely new person the very next day, just remember: old habits die hard. Say you are usually not a morning person and you set a study schedule for 6:00–8:00 AM everyday. It is highly unlikely that you’d be able to stick to this alien schedule. Instead, fit in the time slot within your existing routine. This would ensure longevity of your prep and better productivity.
2.Take it slow: In the beginning, set a schedule for a short interval — say one week. Then you have a chance to review if it is working well.
- Are you able to cope up?
- Is the study time sufficient?
- Can you add in more study time without any major disruptions?
- Will you be able to cover all topics to your satisfaction this way?
Tweak schedule according to your answers to these questions and re-evaluate. Repeat process if needed.
3.Schedule breaks + buffer time: One thing will certainly happen while you’re carrying on with your schedules and dates: LIFE. So, it is important that your schedule accounts not only for scheduled breaks, but also for unexpected down-time. Also keep analyzing if the schedule is taking you towards your goal and make changes wherever you feel necessary.
4.Evaluate progress based on results and not on time spent: Your schedule’s performance should not merely be measured in terms of number of hours spent in prep, but should also focus on what has been achieved in that time period. Sitting at one place, staring blankly at a computer screen is not prep.
Ideally, you should have a goal in mind for each time interval — some sample interval-goals could be:
- overall score improvement,
- number of practice questions in 1 sitting — a metric for stamina (not conceptual clarity)
- better conceptual understanding of a particular section (based on accuracy or speed improvement)
And then at the end of the interval, you should be able to evaluate whether you fell short of/ met/ exceeded the goal, and course correct accordingly. Also keep checking whether your schedule will take you to your final goal (target score) in time for the test date
Remember: aptitude test prep is a marathon, not a sprint. Aptitude cannot be built overnight. Aptitude cannot be built when your mind and body aren’t fresh. Ideally your schedule should consist of 2–4 hours of prep 5–6 days a week instead of 8 hours, 2 days a week.
So, fasten your seat-belt, relax and enjoy the ride!