Organisation Printable Students University

Writing a Study Plan: A Guide to Planning for Finals

November 15, 2016

Whenever I used to think about writing a study plan, I thought that it had to be this super in-depth schedule about exactly what I was going to study and when. The problem with this was that I was always terrible at sticking to an exact schedule because things always came up that I couldn’t predict. One small deviation and my plan completely fell apart.

Since finals are just around the corner for me, I thought it would be helpful for all you guys to share how I make my study plan now. I even have a printable study planner for you, so you can get right into studying!

study plan

Download the free printable study planner from The Cosmic Road Resource Library!


It can be hard to know where to start studying for a subject. I always have this difficulty in math or computer science subjects, but it holds for all classes. Since you have a whole semester’s worth of studying to cover for the final exam, you want to make sure that you don’t miss anything. For me, a study plan is all about writing out what you need to study. I work much better with a checklist type plan than a schedule (plus, it has a lot more flexibility). When I have a clear idea of what I need to do, I can pick a starting point and go from there. A strong focused plan cuts out a lot of the procrastination and floundering that comes around during finals.

What do you need in your study plan?

I divide up my study plans by class. Having a separate plan for each class helps with prioritisation and visualisation of where your effort is going. This way you can easily see the classes that need more work and which ones you are prepared for.

Now, for each class you want to make a list of all the topics or chapters you have covered in the course. Any large topics can even be broken down into a few smaller sub-topics. Once you have your list, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you written notes for this topic?
  • Have you revised this topic?
  • Are you confident in this topic?

The aim of this study plan is to be able to answer YES to all these questions before the exam. The checklist is for your own benefit, so if you aren’t confident in something, don’t mark it off. Consider what you need to do to feel more confident about your knowledge of that topic so you can say “Yes! I am confident in this topic and I will totally nail that exam!”

Once you have a list of topics, you can start studying anywhere you like. Since you have a good focus of what to cover before the exam, you’ll know exactly how much work you should do to feel prepared. Tick off the questions as you go for each topic. Starting a study plan early in the semester means you can add topics and write notes for them as you learn each week. It makes it way easier to start your revision when you’re prepared in advance!

Using a study plan is a great way to prepare for final exams. Use this free printable study planner to get your studying started and nail those exams!

Every study plan needs a place to write down questions

I always love to attach a questions section to my study plan, because it’s a key part of learning. There are always going to be things that you might find difficult or still not understand even after reading the textbook. If you come across any questions or difficulties, write them down. Instead of ignoring them, you are going to actively seek out answers. It might be a case of asking your lecturer to clarify something, or studying a topic further before you fully grasp the concept. By writing them down you are ensuring that any gaps in your knowledge are addressed before the exam. When I write down a question after a day of studying, often when I continue the next day I answer my own question, or a concept I thought I didn’t understand becomes a lot clearer. Try putting your questions on post it notes and sticking them somewhere that you can clearly see them. As you answer each question, you can eliminate the post it note and make room for other questions.

If you are trying to answer YES to the confidence question but you aren’t quite convinced, think about why you aren’t confident in that topic. It may be because you haven’t done enough revision, but it also might be that you are having some difficulties with a small part of it. Write it down so you can find an answer and have full confidence that you know the topic inside and out.

A checklist of past papers is super useful!

Past papers are so important! Don’t overlook them. Having the knowledge is great, but knowing how to apply that knowledge in exam style questions will drastically improve your preparation. In my study plan, I always like to have a list of the past papers that I can use to practice, and mark them off as I complete them. It gives me a good idea of how much preparation I’ve done. It’s also a great way to find out anything that you still have questions about.

Using a study plan is a great way to prepare for final exams. Use this free printable study planner to get your studying started and nail those exams!

I have a wonderful, classic style, printable study planner available at The Cosmic Road Resource Library for you. It includes all the sections mentioned in this post on a single A4 page. You can list your topics (and check off notes, revision and confidence), make a checklist of past papers, write down any questions that you have, and there is even an “Other Notes” section for anything else you want to add. It’s got everything covered! Since it all fits onto one page, you can have a quick look to get a good overview of your plan.

So, download your free printable study planner from The Cosmic Road Resource Library, fill it out and study hard!



Sign up to The Cosmic Road Newsletter to gain access to the Resource Library and get your free printables!


You Might Also Like

  • Divs

    Alana. Can you give some tips on how to manage the time we get as a study break prior to exam? Being faced with a huge amount to learn and revise AND a lot of time to get it done seems exhausting. I often end up procrastinating so much that I land with the same load short on time. I never end up following timetable I make.
    Could you please guide me on that?

    • Alana

      Hey Divs!

      Don’t worry, I definitely know how you feel. It’s always really tempting to leave everything until the break when you have time to actually sit down and study, and then when you are on break you keep thinking “I have plenty of time, I’ll just do it tomorrow”. Procrastination can be your worst enemy, but I have a few tips for you.

      The first is to try and do as much revision as you can before the break. Something as simple writing down a few points about what you learned in class that day before you go to bed can be great for your long term memory.

      When you are on study break, and you’ve written up a study schedule or a study plan to get through all your work, and you don’t feel like doing it, my favourite thing to do is to “trick” myself into starting work. I generally procrastinate when I think I have so much work that I can’t even fathom where to start, so I do other things. I swear by the 7 minute rule. I set a timer for 7 minutes on my phone, and I start something. It doesn’t have to be something that can be completed in 7 minutes, only something to work on. Often I find that when my 7 minutes is up (and it’s actually quite quick!) I want to set another 7 minutes so I can complete what I started working on.

      Once I’ve started working, I find it easier to keep working. And the best thing about this kind of technique is that you can adjust the time you want on the timer, or you can do a little, do something else, and then come back to it.

      If you’re having a bad day, you might only want to do a little bit, and that’s okay! Keep telling yourself every little bit counts! 30 minutes of study a day is way better than no study.

      I also recommend breaking your work down. If you write a to do list or a study schedule or anything like that for your study, break it down into smaller tasks. Looking at “Summarise 12 Chapters from textbook” can seem super daunting. So try and write more specific and focused tasks. Revise a specific topic within your notes instead of just thinking about it as “Revise all notes for the course”. I find the more manageable and achievable my study goals are, the more likely I am to start them.

      Sorry for the incredibly long essay, but I hope this was of some help!
      Let me know how you go with these techniques or if you need more help. Best of luck!