Hey readers!

December is just around the corner, which can be both an exciting and stressful time for students. Final exams are definitely a source of stress as we get closer and closer to the end of the semester. Sometimes, finals season can feel like an impossible mountain for us to climb, and we often don’t know where to start.

One of the first steps you can take to ease your stress about exams is to create a study schedule in advance. As a fifth-year student, I’ve been through many exam seasons and have tried (and failed) several methods of forming studying schedules for exams so that you don’t have to! Although every student’s journey is different (and every study schedule is different), I’ve picked up some key tips to keep in mind when forming your study schedule.

1. Be realistic

Sure, it would be great if we could effectively study 10 hours a day, with no distractions or breaches in concentration. But the reality is we’re human and we live human lives full of obligations and to-do lists. It’s impossible for us to give our full attention for such long periods of time. Instead, be realistic with your schedule and determine how much time you can really give to studying a day. Keep in mind all your other obligations such as work, chores, and friends, as well as dedicated times for breaks. Once you’ve considered all of your non-academic obligations, then can you effectively and realistically schedule your time for studying.

2. Be specific

One problem that students often run into when creating their study schedules is not being specific about how you spend each study session. Maybe you’ve dedicated an afternoon to Study Time and you feel super motivated and ready to hit the books, but once you get there you don’t know what to do and you start to feel overwhelmed with the volume of studying that has to be done before your exam. Instead, write down all the tasks that need to be done to prepare you for the exam, and then prioritize. Try to be as specific as possible. If you need to get some reading done, write down the specific page numbers you want to do each day, and then leave time for review at the end. If it’s a math-based course then write down all the problem sets you want to get done each day instead.

3. Be efficient

Efficiency is key to studying, but often overlooked. Have you ever spent hours studying one topic, but then realize at the end of that studying session that you hardly got anything done? This can be very discouraging and can make the mountain of studying only seem taller. What happens in this scenario is you start to lose focus and your brain is working less efficiently, making tasks that should be short and easy take hours of your time. Instead, plan to study for shorter amounts of time, but study more efficiently by giving yourself regular breaks. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to regulate study time and dedicated breaks and there are tonnes of apps and YouTube videos that model this technique available online to help you time your study session.

Think of it this way, using 90% of your brain power for 1 hour will give you the same outcome as using 10% of your brain power for 9 hours! Being more efficient with your studying for shorter periods of time will save you so much more time.



So, what does this look like? Here is an example of a study schedule made with Google calendar for this semester of a first-year science student who has 5 exams, 12 hours of work at a part-time job, and other obligations that need to get done. The schedule starts on the last day of the semester, right before final exams begin. Notice that all other obligations are listed on the schedule, including exam times (red), work hours at a part-time job (blue), grocery shopping (purple), time for the gym (yellow), and time for friends and family (green). After these obligations have been added, we can then add study sessions. The study sessions in pink are each dedicated to a specific subject (and you could go further by specifying pages to read, problem sets, etc.). Each study session is no longer than four hours long and should have several short breaks within the session. Finally, there are also some dedicated time for longer breaks (light purple) which can sometimes be just as important as an efficient study session as it will keep you rested and motivated throughout exam season.


December 2 – 8

December 9 – 15

December 16 – 22

If you feel as though you need some more help with studying techniques, the Centre for Accessible Learning is a great resource on campus that can provide you with support.

Good luck on your exams!

Love always,


The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.