At any time of year, creating and keeping to a schedule can help each one of us stay focused on our priorities and engage in the activities that enable us to reach our goals. But when exam time comes around, it’s especially important that students manage their days well, so that they don’t end up either overburdened or underprepared.

For this reason, authors Walter Pauk and Ross J.Q. Owens recommend that students create an exam-week schedule, as described in their book How to Study in College, Eleventh Edition. This plan helps students prioritize their activities while still maintaining a healthy balance that allows for rest and other healthy behaviors. Students might also consider color-coding the schedule; this can help them notice those important exam times at a glance. (We’ve also included a sample below.)

Steps to building an exam-week schedule

  1. Create a “grid” for the week. This will form the structure for your schedule. Place the days (and dates) of the week at the top of the columns; label each row by the hour.
  2. Fill in the dates and times for your exams. You’ll plan the rest of your time around them.
  3. Next, pencil in time for meals, sleep, and physical activity. Don’t neglect this!  Rest is important to your college success, and it’s important to manage your stress through exercise, nutritious meals, and other strategies for maintaining wellness.
  4. Block off time for a final review immediately before the exam. This provides you with the opportunity to review what you’ve already studied and thereby begin your exam with clarity and confidence. (Pauk and Owens, 312)

Sample exam week schedule

Reference: Pauk, Walter and Ross J.Q. Owens. 2014. How to Study in College, 11th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Do you have time-management tips that you share with your students? Describe them in the comments section below.