How to Effectively Use a Planner for Exam Preparation

Exams are an integral and often challenging part of a student’s journey. However, with the right approach, they don’t have to be overwhelming. With the right exam preparation planner, students can stay organised, create a winning study routine and confidently approach exams. 

Academic success with planners isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a strategy to help learners perform at their best. We will explore proven test preparation techniques to optimise student planners for success. 

Step 1: Start Early and Set Goals

The key to effective exam study planning is for students to start their preparation the moment they know their exam dates and topics. They can use their planner to break down large sections of work into smaller, more manageable chunks.

This is where setting SMART goals is essential. Such goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Here are a few examples:

  • Finish history textbook chapter summaries by 12 April
  • Do quadratic equation past paper questions for 30 minutes, Mon-Fri
  • Memorise 5 new literary devices each week

Step 2: Schedule Regular Study Sessions

Now, it’s time for students to turn their goals into action! They should block out dedicated study sessions for each subject in their exam preparation planner and commit to them fully. Consistency is vital, so students should avoid the ‘all-nighter’ trap, which rarely leads to success.

Instead, they should schedule revision sessions for each subject in advance, allowing for life’s inevitable surprises. A good tip is to alternate topic areas instead of trying to master everything for one subject at once.

A weekly study schedule could look like this:

DayStudy Session 1Study Session 2
MondayEnglish (poetry)Maths (algebra)
TuesdayGeography (climate change)History (WW2)
WednesdayMaths (graphs)English (essay structure)
ThursdayHistory (medicine through time)Geography (globalisation)
FridayReview sessions as neededCatch up on weak areas
SaturdayPractice exam papersReview model answers
SundayConsolidate notes; make flashcards for key termsRelax!

Students can highlight these sessions in their planners and treat them as important appointments not to be missed. Having all sessions pre-planned eliminates decision fatigue and the temptation to procrastinate.

Step 3: Organise Notes and Resources

Tasks like organising study notes and learning materials pave the way for successful exam preparation. A planner transforms into students’ central revision hub, where they can keep all their essential notes, resources and assignments together in one spot. They can use it to:

  • Summarise key ideas for better understanding and knowledge retention.
  • Jot down questions to ask teachers at a later stage.
  • Store revision aids like flashcards, diagrams and mind maps so they are easily accessible for quick review.
  • Record vital exam details, so it’s one less thing for them to stress about.

Keeping everything in one place promotes a sense of control. Learners can also use bookmarks, dividers, tabs, stickers and highlighters to make navigation even easier.

Step 4: Plan Time Off

While planned study sessions are vital, so is downtime. Students should consciously block off time for relaxation and recreation to prevent burnout. Scheduling enjoyable and relaxing activities gives their brains time to recharge and process what they’ve learned. 

Refreshers could include:

  • Grabbing lunch with friends
  • Going for a walk in nature
  • Curling up with a good book
  • Getting creative in the kitchen

Step 5: Use Countdowns

Ticking off the days leading up to an exam often lights a fire under students to stick to their revision routine. They can create an exam countdown planning section in their planners to create visual trackers that can be incredibly motivating. 

Some options include:

  • Simple calendar countdown: Crossing off each day as it passes
  • Topic tracker: Ticking off topics that they’ve finished revising
  • Study hours tracker: Logging their progress to illustrate the work they’ve put in

Watching their hard work pay off as students move closer to being fully prepared can significantly boost their confidence.

Step 6: Review and Troubleshoot

Regular, honest self-reflection is vital for achieving academic success with planners. Have your learners set aside some time in their planners to assess their progress and exam readiness.

This involves asking guiding questions like:

  • Which topics need more work?
  • Am I keeping up with goals?
  • What are my most efficient revision methods? 

Practising self-reflection helps students pinpoint and address problem areas early. They shouldn’t be afraid to adapt their approaches. This type of review and introspection is essential for academic success and personal development.

Prep Like a Pro with Penstripe Planners

A student’s exam preparation planner is their roadmap towards acing exams. At Penstripe, we create fully customisable student planners designed specifically around student success, including effective exam preparation. 

Our planners provide the ideal framework for all the planner strategies for exams we’ve discussed, along with bespoke sections for timetables, notes, goal-setting and more. 

With customisation options like reference materials, homework logs and your school’s code of conduct, our planners give students everything they need for academic success. Discover Penstripe planners for your school by requesting a free sample today. 

You can reach us by calling 0113 231 0995, emailing or filling out our quick online form.