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Optimising your Matric Break with a Study Plan

by Annique Bolliger

Those final exams are approaching, and you can smell the scent of a well-deserved freedom that awaits you in a few months’ time. It’s time for a matric break study plan. In preparation for the last stretch of your school career, here’s how to optimise your study break in order to smash those final exams like a boss.

Let me spare you the lecture. I know – that you know – that making a study plan is a smart thing to do. Why? Well, I could go into the whole scientific explanation of how study plans improve your concentration, productivity, and memory… but let’s face it – those reasons are not what is going to end up motivating you to actually make, and stick to, any sort of study plan. So, let’s turn to the real deal here. Making a study plan will basically allow you to dedicate a fraction of each day to your exam preparation, and let you HAVE FUN for the entire remaining time. Now we’re talking.

Here’s the plan

Here’s one suggestion on how to proceed when you start constructing your study plan:

  • Draw up a study calendar or roster

Create a calendar or roster that reflects all the days of your study break. Leave enough space to make notes on each of the days.

  • Choose and dedicate a daily time frame for studying

Pick a time. For example, you decide that every day from 8am to 4pm will be dedicated to studying. If you’re a night owl, it could be every day from 3pm to 10pm.

So, you will spend about 6-8 hours each day focusing on your exam preparation. This will give you one half of each day to do whatever else you want.

  • Allocate a specific study time for each respective exam

You have a whole bunch of exams coming up, but some will need more study time than others. You need to figure out how many hours or days you want to dedicate to which subject or which exam.

  • Use your calendar to make a study schedule

Now that you have decided on a time frame as well as the amount of time you need to spend on each exam prep, write it on the respective day of your calendar. Create a study schedule for yourself for the entire period of your break.

For example:

Day 1

08 – 12h English Paper 1

12 – 13h Lunch

13 – 15h Afrikaans Paper 1

The schedule can change of course, as you might realise that you in fact need an extra day for a specific exam. It’s no biggie, but you will make life easier for yourself if you can estimate as accurately as possible how much time each exam requires.

Hello free time

Once you’ve allocated each exam to a certain study day, you can start thinking about entering other activities to the calendar.

You’ll probably find that you don’t want to be too rigid, and rather enjoy your free time spontaneously, but perhaps you have a routine when it comes to a certain hobby, or you want to note the date of a specific event or concert into the calendar.

One of the days on the roster could thus look like this:

Day 1

08 – 12h English Paper 1

12 – 13h Lunch

13 – 15h Afrikaans Paper 1 (note to self, GET THIS DONE!)

16 – 18h Gym

19h Beach partaaay

Fun things to do in the post-study bliss

Summer’s already peeking through the door – there are thousands of fun activities to do before and after your daily study session.

Here’s some of the stuff to look forward to:

  • Meeting up with friends
  • Exercising
  • Playing video games
  • Starting plans for your gap year
  • Looking for a summer job 
  • Partying
  • Learning a new skill (Ever tried juggling? Ever played basic chords on a guitar?)
  • Basically, anything BUT study

I’ve taken both routes in the past – using a study plan, and also not using one, and the fact that I’m writing this article should be enough of a hint that I vote for the former!

Give it a try. Be a little nerdy for a change and actually sit yourself down to knock the studying out the way. It’s called a study break for a reason – it’s not just studying, and also not just a break. Use the study plan to optimise this time for yourself. This way you will go into the exam period with a rested and confident energy, and hop your way to the end of Matric like a well-humoured Charlie Chaplin (or something along those lines).

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Some of you might be quite keen to create a study break, but you struggle to concentrate and be productive. There are tricks to mould your brain into productivity mode, we assure you. 

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