Seminary Syllabus Strategy #4: A Study Plan for Each Major Exam

• September 14, 2009 • Comments (1)

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Similar to creating a writing plan for papers, you should block out dedicated study time for major exams. If you do this now, at the beginning of the semester (and stick to your schedule), then you won’t be pinched to find time to study.

It’s pretty simple:

  • Reserve study blocks beginning about a week before the exam.
  • Plan for multiple, short study times rather than longer blocks. Four blocks of 20 minutes each will probably make for better retention than a single two-hour marathon review.
  • Reserve this time now, and plan around it.

If you have multiple exams in a single week, like around mid-terms or finals:

  • Start a bit earlier.
  • Schedule breaks in your study time. You can schedule shorter blocks of study time around other activities, or simply build a ten minute break into each hour of studying.

The point? Be proactive. (This is Habit #1 in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.) If you anticipate your needs ahead of time and provide for them, you won’t have to be reactive and frustrated at exam time.

Also consider these study ideas:

  • Swap class notes with someone and read over your friend’s notes. This will help refresh your memory of lectures and pick up things you might have missed.
  • If you’ve underlined and/or highlighted your class reading well, it should be relatively easy to review what you’ve read.
  • Get a friend to quiz you on points you’ll be tested on. Iron sharpens iron, and it’s a good excuse to get coffee.

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Category: Academics, Time Management

About the Author

Mark Warnock is the founder and General Editor of Seminary Survival Guide.com. He serves as Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbia, Illinois, and is a Ph.D student in Christian Philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is working with Ed Eubanks on a book on how to survive seminary.

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Comments (1)

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  1. Ed Eubanks says:

    Good thoughts again. Thanks, as always, Mark.

    A couple of thoughts I might add in:
    ~For one, expect that you will have a few extremely busy weeks at certain points in your semester. You may not have two exams scheduled for the same day (or you might– it happened to me a few times), but you could well have one exam, one paper, and one preaching assignment all due on the same day or two.
    ~The earlier you realize this is the case, the better– so getting the big picture at the start of the semester is crucial. Getting all of my assignments onto a calendar, where you can see where they overlap, was a must for me.
    ~Don’t underestimate your professors’ willingness to work with you on these things. They want you to succeed, and are concerned for your well-being. I found that, if one professor made an assignment on top of an existing one from another class, he could easily be persuaded to adjust it to better accommodate the students’ schedules. (Of course, you have to be able to know and articulate this to him– so again, a calendar where you’ll realize quickly where the heavy seasons are is helpful.)

    For what it’s worth.

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