How do I smash this semester?

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We all know the golden New Year resolution where we claim the next semester will be handled totally differently. Or that night just before the exam when we cram the bits of information captured on both sides of numerous A4 papers and thinking how on earth the time flew by without us even noticing. If you do not relate to the above scenarios then one – you should be really proud of yourself, and two, this article will probably add no extra value to you (yet you might grab some new time management hints for the future). However if you can clearly remember the exact moments of panic and despair just before the deadline – the following info can turn your life around in just one go (tested and proven on personal experience of a final year Management undergraduate).

The following method is simple and quite straight forward to ensure ease of practical implementation. I call it ‘The Smashing Table’.

  1. Create an excel table with 6 rows and n number of lines (n=number of enrolled courses). You can draw it by hand if you feel more comfortable this way. Row 1 is ‘Course Name’. List the courses in descending order according to their weights (total credits). Row 2 will include ‘Course Credits’. That sets a priority base for planning the study sessions later.
  2. Row 3 can be named as ‘weekly private study hours’ – here you should put the number of private study hours estimated by the course coordinators (total amount is usually stated in the course outline). Simply divide the total hours by the number of study weeks estimated for the course. Such an estimation will allow you to know the exact minimum number of hours per week that you should be spending on reading/research/etc. Personally, I find it extremely useful since the final year requires enormous flexibility and knowing the minimum estimate helps to stay on track in highly uncertain conditions.
  3. Row 4 includes the ‘Described assessment method’ and its weight in the final course mark. When courses consist of both coursework/essay and exams – knowing the weight of all assignments separately will allow a more accurate allocation of your time and effort (realistic approach to achieving the desired mark).
  4. Finally, row 5 should include ‘assessment deadlines’ that will then help you to estimate weeks remaining until the assessment in the 6th row. Row 6 will be the second priority base for estimating which courses require more urgent handling and which can be approached in a more relaxed steady paced manner.

When putting the table together you should remember to be honest and bold with yourself. Asking the following questions allows time management planning to be more realistic and thus actually effective:

  • What is my initial goal (marks wise)?
  • Are the amount of private study hours going to be enough for me?
  • Are there any deadline clashes that will reduce the actual number of weeks left till assessment?

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Maria Sossenkova

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