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Making the most of study leave

Study leave has started – or is about to start – for thousands of A level and GCSE students across the UK.

Study leave presents a big opportunity, and a big risk. For many students, after the rigours of a critical academic year, going off on leave can feel like a holiday, especially if the first exam isn’t for two or three weeks. However, it’s all too easy to slip into the holiday mentality during study leave and fail to make the most of the time to guarantee the best possible results in the coming exams.

As a student, the secret of managing your study leave successfully is to plan the available time with care. In our last post, which dealt with managing exam stress, we discussed the importance of planning and scheduling as tools to build your confidence as you approached exams. Spending your study leave working flat out, putting in sixteen or eighteen hours until your body and brain are ready to collapse, is probably as damaging to your chances as underworking yourself. The most successful students develop a structured, productive routine during study leave, balancing the requirements of revision with the need to rest both body and mind.

On that basis, we’ve put together a suggested timetable for your days during study leave. This is meant for exam-free weekdays only – you shouldn’t abandon revision over weekends, but it might be a good idea to take things a bit easier then. On exam days, your timetable will be guided by the timing of each examination.

7.00am – 7.30am Get up, maybe take some early-morning exercise (even if it’s just a walk to the newsagent), shower and eat breakfast. This might seem really, really early in the morning, but your brain is going to be at its sharpest before lunch, so it’s a good idea to have a long morning. A bit of exercise first thing will wake you up (as will a shower), and a good breakfast is essential. A huge fry-up every day probably isn’t a good plan (you’ll go straight back to sleep…), but a large bowl of cereal, some toast, tea and juice will give your body and brain enough fuel for the morning’s work.

8.30am – 10.30am First revision session. It’s not a good idea to “blitz” this straight through. Instead, do fifty minutes work in every hour. Work for twenty-five minutes, have a five-minute break for a cup of tea and wander around, work for another twenty-five minutes and so on. After two hours it’ll be…

10.30am – 11.00am Time for a break. Don’t just flop around in the room where you’ve been studying – get out and do something. Tidy up, go for a quick walk, have a snack.

11.00am – 1.00pm Second revision session. Late morning, just before lunch, is one of the best times for doing really intense revision. Focus hard, and make plenty of notes.

1.00pm – 2pm Lunch. Again, give yourself a proper break. Have a decent lunch, but nothing too heavy that’s going to send you to sleep.

Afternoon/early evening In general, this is a good time to do less intense revision, such as reading around a subject. However, be careful about lying down on your bed or sofa to read a book – it’s very easy to fall asleep! Unless the pressure is really on, consider using the time to do other things. Get outside, go into town, go for a ride on your bike, have a walk or a run.

7.00pm – 10pm This is the second period in the day when your brain is probably at its most active. Make the most of this, and focus on the toughest bits of your revision.

10pm – 11pm Time to wind down. Watch TV, talk to friends, catch up with your email and Facebook. Better still, read a book.

11pm BED! It’s not a good idea to go out during weekdays on study leave, so get yourself to bed early. Even if you’re a night owl, your body and brain will benefit from a solid 8-9 hours sleep. And remember what your granny said – that hour before midnight is worth two after!

We’re not suggesting that you should stick to this as a rigid timetable. However, it’s a good indication of how you should be managing your days. You’ll notice that it doesn’t include hours and hours of work. We’ve factored in about seven to eight hours of revision per day, interspersed with good breaks and alternative activities. When you’re revising, it’s tempting to work like mad for the sake of it, and convince yourself that by working every spare hour of the day and night you somehow “deserve” to do well. In fact, it’s far better to do seven or eight hours of steady, good quality revision every day rather than flog yourself to half to death. Get plenty of exercise and rest, eat properly and sleep properly. Managing your study leave well isn’t just about hard work – it’s a question of balance.

If you want a bit of extra help during your study leave and you live in the Greater Manchester area, get in touch with 121 Home Tutors. We offer tuition in a range of subject areas, and might just be able to give you that bit of extra help that gets you the grades you need!

7 Responses to “Making the most of study leave”

  1. Jack says:

    Thanks for this, very helpful 🙂

  2. Harry says:

    I found this little guide very helpful! It manages to fit in 7-8 hours of revision yet it doesn’t seem like that long at all! 😀 Plus it gives you an excuse to go out with your mates, and not just stuck inside revising all of the time. 😀 Thanks a lot! 🙂

  3. criz says:

    Whatttttttt, oh my god. i can’t do that much. thats a waste of a day.. oh man is this how people do well at exams? i do like an hour a day.. shit

  4. Hollie says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’m going on study leave next week & this is really helpful. 🙂

  5. Hollie says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’m going on study leave next week and this is very helpful! 🙂

  6. Nithin says:

    Fantastic guide!This is very helpful.

  7. Alison says:

    thank-you and glad to be able to provide a helpful post 🙂

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