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Tips for managing your study time

High school is full of activity. Whether you play sports, act in school plays, have a job, take care of siblings, or are taking hard classes - or even doing more than one of these things! - you have almost certainly looked at the clock before and been shocked by how little time you have to get everything done. Throw SAT prep into the mix, and it can seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
While you may not be able to cut down on all of your responsibilities during SAT practice time, there are some ways you can structure your planning and studying to keep things going smoothly and ensuring that nothing gets left by the wayside. Several high school students offered up some of their time management suggestions:

BIG TIP #1: Make a study plan

Study a little bit at a time: “The first thing I did was take out a calendar and chart out the type of section I was going to study each day. I tried to study a little bit every day of the week and take off weekends, but adjusted this as needed. I personally think doing well is about forming habits - studying a little each day for a month or two is much more effective than cramming the same material in a week.” – Aneesh
Figure out your system: “I like to have certain times throughout the week dedicated to studying. I've gotten into the habit of sleeping early (10pm) and waking up early (7am) to do work instead of doing work at 1am. The work I do in the morning is lower-priority homework or assignments to help me wake up. My committees and extracurriculars occur after school and change times often, so I fit my more important homework around it. Essentially, creating a system and a schedule that works is key. I don't use an agenda or a planner, but I get around just fine because I have a system. It's about experimenting and finding one that will keep you sane through the busiest times.” – Eric
Go after the low-hanging fruit first: “When possible, I stay after school or go to a coffee shop right after school with a friend in order to get some homework out of the way immediately. I always find that when I get home after a long day at school, I don't have motivation to start my work, and am more likely to procrastinate and not try as hard. Working/studying right after school before I go home allows me to get small assignments out of the way, so I have more time at home to study and do other assignments. At home, I break up my work time and give myself many breaks. I usually try to work for 45mins to an hour and then give myself a 10 minute break. I switch subjects, and if something is taking a long time I'll take a break from it, work on something else, and then come back to it.” – Fariha
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize: “Make a list of things that are most to least important (ex: 1. math, 2. english studying, 3. music practice, etc.). Write down the main things you need to get done in those subjects. Concentrate on the most important one first. Sometimes I tend to get pretty overwhelmed by certain projects and assignments and studying so when I go through each subject I split up the work into very simple steps, then I'm not nearly as worried about an assignment (example: to write an essay: 1) brainstorm for 4 minutes 2) cross out ideas that won't work 3) write basic outline...) This always keeps me from procrastinating. Give yourself 5 minute breaks now and then, usually for breaks I make some tea or listen to music. Refocusing is not too hard when you give yourself simple steps to do after the break.” – Elyse
Listen to yourself: “Check in with yourself to see how you feel before starting to study; do you feel like memorizing math formulas right now? Do you want to go ahead and write that paper? Or maybe you'd rather just read? Do what you feel will be most productive. Just make sure that you really stick to the time limits and follow your study guide once you've made it. Feel free to come back to assignments after taking a small break or working on another task.” – Emily

BIG TIP #2: Keep yourself on track

Stick to your schedule: “Yes, we all deal with the temptation of procrastination. It's like a cupcake that later gives us food poisoning. We can avoid the costs of procrastination by making a schedule, and committing to that schedule. Sometimes I will purposely write deadlines for myself that are a couple days before the actual assignment is due as a way of "tricking myself." It's a pretend due date! That way, if I procrastinate, it won't be so harmful.” – Eillen
Estimate the time you need: “I plan out what homework I have and how long I think it will take me. I usually work for an hour to and hour and a half and take a 10 minute break. During a break, I play basketball, listen to music, or read.” – Sahil
Start with mini-deadlines: “Setting a deadline usually isn't enough for a study plan - go through what you need to cover and make mini-deadlines for each section.” – Jody
Take breaks: “ It's definitely important that you take some sort of break(s) during your study sessions. Some people say that your brain can only focus for 20 minutes at a time, so don't push your study sessions if you find that you can't focus or you aren't retaining any information. Make sure that you are doing something that you find enjoyable so that you find some balance. You want to feel refreshed and truly rested when you return to your studying because you've worked hard!” – Emily

BIG TIP #3: Stay organized

Put everything in writing: “I always write everything that I have to do each day in a physical agenda, and I write reminders of test dates and due dates in as well to remind me of what's coming in days to come. Having all of my tasks laid out keeps me organized and gives me incentive to finish everything, just so I can check things off!” – Heeju
Set yourself up for rewards: “Always make a to do list. I make a to do list with the smallest tasks such as "email ___" so that I am able to cross out something. Having a planner or a to do list gives me a specific set of things that I need to do and nothing feels better than physically crossing something off that list. When I finish a medium to large sized task, I allow myself a specific amount of time to go outside, go on social media, or go into the kitchen to get food. These little breaks serve as mini rewards for completing tasks.” – Tiffany
Think ahead: Each Sunday, I write out all the homework or mandatory work I anticipate to receive over the next week, because most of the times, teachers assign regular problem sets or papers that are predictable in advance. Each daily plan that I formulate includes a portion of this list of homework. This helps me keep track of due dates so that I don't miss any homework, and gives me the joy of erasing completed items from the long list to eventually make it blank. If I keep my set schedule, then I know I won't have to worry about late work or time management.” – Gaeun

Want to join the conversation?

  • starky ultimate style avatar for user C.C.
    When I do my homework, I take a few breaks once in a while. And I am constantly finding myself giving myself excuses to not continue my homework. Any suggestions?
    (35 votes)
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    • hopper jumping style avatar for user Helen So
      Setting a timer for your breaks can help. Maybe a 5 minute break every 20 minutes, then set small goals to get done in each 20 minute period so you don't end up procrastinating. Then set up a reward for yourself once you've completed all of your goals for the day. This site helps me a lot: habitica.com
      (52 votes)
  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Dustin Whitelock
    There's been a lot of tension going on with me, since apart from completing homework, I've got to complete my lessons to keep up in pace with the class. And then there's project. So juggling all these three tasks makes me trip over. And over that I've got all these extra- curricular activities. And if I add working part time to all these, I guess it will be like an overload on me. And then there's community service....

    I guess I need to do all of these in order to make it to a good college. But I just don't find enough time. Over that I need to go for private coaching for four subjects (viz., Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Computer Sc.), each lasting more than two hours per week.

    And I end up procrastinating before the exams and end up getting real low marks. Any suggestions of how to do all my work in time?
    (7 votes)
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    • piceratops seed style avatar for user Shania Sinha
      Well, I understand about the coaching. A lot of my friends do that. I too am preparing for IIT-JEE along with SAT, which requires coaching. I followed this tip for a month and see amazing improvement in myself: Note down all your tasks on a sticky note or any paper. List them in decreasing order of priority. Stick it in a a place where you are forced to see it everyday (The bathroom mirror or your work table). It'd be better if its the first thing you see when you wake up. That ways the tasks will force their way through your mind. (You gotta try to do them too. :P)
      Look at the note for so many days you get tired of it.

      Also, to help with the procrastination, ask a relative or friend from your study groups (or yourself if there's nobody else) to reward after every 30 mins of studying. This will motivate you to keep doing it further. Gradually increase that study time. 3-4 hours of complete, focused studying is more than enough, even for a high scorer. Divide those 3/4 hours into 30-45 min blocks. It helped me. :)

      Start exercising if you don't. It helps to rejuvenate yourself and washes away all tiredness and lethargy.

      Hope this helps!
      (12 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user juliusiyke86
    what is time management?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user RAFID
    when i do my homework put some music on and do it?
    (5 votes)
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  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user Heavenlee
    Is there a place that anybody can suggest to me where I should study? I feel that the bed is a sleeping hazard and the dining room table is a distraction hazard. HELP!
    (4 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user jregehr
      Find a place that is comfortable (but not so much that you might fall asleep) and that is out of the way of distractions (like TV or family members). For me, that is a small desk in my bedroom . Occasionally I will sit on the floor to spread out notes or just to get away from the desk. I often do this when studying for big things like midterms.
      (6 votes)
  • aqualine tree style avatar for user Rawan A. Kasem
    I tried solving a reading passage and times myself in it, it took me like 22 minutes which I know is very long. And in the math, I always finish like 5 minutes late than the allotted time. I don't know how to improve in that.
    (3 votes)
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  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Tyler Anderson
    I need to get my test score up 110 points to get the score I need to get into my top school choice. I have just under two and a half months before my fourth and final SAT, what should my study plan look like?
    (4 votes)
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    • piceratops seedling style avatar for user Jess Roberts
      Actually that would probably stress most people out, if you have a longer stretch of time, you should take a diagnostic plan and specifically find what you need to work on, then concentrate on those specific areas. For reading and writing, diagram sentences in a book you're reading and do a reading comprehension summary of a page you just read. For math, you should find the specific areas you struggle in, then run through problems. Set up chunks of time (around 30 min) and focus on one to two areas a period until you can finish without any problems. Then move onto the next thing. Don't try to do more than 3 types a day though!
      (3 votes)
  • cacteye green style avatar for user annageldiyewm2611
    I started using Pomodoro technique. I think it helps a llittle to focus
    (4 votes)
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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user death7360
    I am having problem in time management in SAT Reading and Maths Section. I am in serious need of advice and help. When I sit for the test, i am not confident as during practice. And I cannot concentrate and focus plus panic and everything goes disaster.
    Please I request Khan Academy to add new reading and writing passages so that I can practice and improve.And guys any website which offers a practice Set other than from College board.
    (3 votes)
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    • winston default style avatar for user Anchita Hari
      If you haven't already, connect your CollegeBoard account with Khan Academy so that you can officially practice for the SAT. Then do the mini timed reading and math sections so that you practice pacing well. Also when you take practice tests on Khan Academy, the system will give you personalized practices according to the types of mistakes you made on the test you took recently, so that next time you won't make the same mistake. Apart from Khan Academy, I have used Kaplan Test Prep, but after taking the real SAT, I realized that Khan Academy gives the practice passages and questions that are the closest to the actual test.
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user bsmahon1
    get binders and folders
    (3 votes)
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