How to stick to your study plan during the holidays

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It’s not always easy to stay motivated during the festive season. Here are ten tips to keep you on the right track during the holidays.

1. Create a study plan

You can’t stick to a plan if you don’t have one, so if you’ve yet to make a study plan that’s your first job.

To do this, you’ll need to consider:

  • The subjects you need to cover
  • The time available to master them
  • How much studying you can fit in
  • Your short-term and long-term study goals

Then buy yourself a large diary, or sign up to an app such as Todoist or My Study Life, and start working on your schedule.

2. Mix it up

Reading notes or textbooks, again and again, is not very interesting and is probably not the best way to remember the information you need to anyway.

From sticking up post-it notes to listening to audio lectures and doing practice assessments, variety is the spice of life as an AAT student.

If you like gaming, you may also benefit from using apps such as Focus To-Do to motivate you to finish the various tasks on your list.

3. Seek the right environment

It’s generally easier to study in a quiet place. So, if your home is busy and noisy over the festive season, consider heading to the local library and setting yourself up in a peaceful area where you’ll be able to focus on the task at hand.

If there’s a café or coffee shop you know is quiet at certain times of the day, that can be a good place to base yourself from time to time too.

You may find the change of scene also helps to avoid stress about studying taking over the rest of your life.

4. Involve your family

You can’t spend all your time avoiding your family so you can concentrate on your studies over the holiday period.

Instead, turn the fact there are so many people around to your advantage by asking relatives (or anyone else who’s there) to test you on a series of flash cards, for example.

5. Find a study buddy

There are bound to be other people on the same AAT course who are trying to study during the holidays; if you don’t know any, you can find them via the various AAT student groups on Facebook.

If they live nearby, meeting up every so often will help to ease the tedium of your study schedule; and if they don’t, you can organise to get together on video calls instead.

Either way, studying alongside someone who is aiming to pass the same exams will allow you both to discuss aspects you find difficult and should help to deepen your understanding of the entire syllabus.

6. Study in short bursts

Our brains are not generally designed to stay focused for long periods of time without a break. For most people, it’s, therefore, best to take a short – say five-minute – break every 30 minutes or so.

That said, some people can concentrate for an hour or more at a time, so find a pattern that suits you and stick to that.

7. Stop checking social media

While short breaks can help you to refocus your mind and avoid burning out, it’s usually best not to use them to start scrolling through social media platforms.

Getting a breath of fresh air, having a quick chat with a family member, or making a drink all give you a better chance of sitting back down, ready to study again a few minutes later – especially as five minutes on social media can quickly become 50 minutes without you noticing!

8. Test yourself regularly

It’s important to check you are on track to meet your study goals on a regular basis. Doing practice assessment papers such as those available on the AAT Lifelong Learning Portal is one of the best ways to do this.

In the early stages, you can make life easier by giving yourself more time, for example. But as the subject becomes more familiar, try to complete them in the time you will have on the day.

9. Reward yourself for hitting study goals

We all like having something to look forward to, so motivate yourself by planning rewards for when you pass a test or finish your notes on a certain topic, for example.

You might, for example, set yourself the goal of finishing a practice assessment paper within the allotted time by 31 December so you can enjoy a night out and a guilt-free day off on 1 January.

Or if sweets are more your thing, you could promise yourself one of your favourites each time you complete a task, such as writing out a set of flash cards.

10. Don’t overdo it

While some people find it difficult to motivate themselves to start a study session, others have a harder time knowing when to stop.

But while it’s important to do enough studying to meet your goals, doing too much can be counterproductive.

Make sure you leave enough time for other activities, such as exercising, spending time with friends and family, and simply slouching on the sofa watching your favourite Christmas film.

Getting enough sleep is also crucial, as it’s much harder to retain information when you’re over-tired.

Further reading

Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor.

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