The IGCSE curriculum can be demanding, with multiple subjects, assignments, and exams to juggle. Effectively managing your time is crucial to staying on top of your workload and performing well. Here are some tips to help IGCSE students organize their time:
1. Use a planner
Get a physical planner or calendar app and map out all your classes, assignments, tests, and extracurriculars. Block out time for studying each subject, working on projects, and relaxing. Seeing everything laid out will help you plan and prioritize. Set reminders so you don't forget deadlines.
There are many great digital planners and calendar apps that can help you stay organized:
- Google Calendar - This free online calendar lets you create multiple calendars, set reminders, and share calendars with others. You can access it from any device.
- Cozi - A family-focused calendar app with a weekly planner, shopping lists, and the ability to sync family members' schedules.
- Todoist - A task manager app that lets you schedule tasks, set due dates, add notes, and categorize tasks.
- Remember the Milk - Excellent for listing assignments and projects, setting due dates, adding notes, and getting reminders across devices.
- iStudiez Pro - An iOS app specifically for students to track schedules, assignments, exams, and grades across courses. Syncs between iPhone and iPad.
- My Study Life - A cross-platform planner for students to schedule classes, assignments, exams, and activities week by week.
Experiment with a couple of different digital planners to see which one best fits your organizing needs and study style.
2. Create a study schedule
Designate specific blocks for studying each subject throughout the week. For example, you could do math drills on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and review biology notes on Sundays. Sticking to a routine will help the material sink in better.
When mapping out your study schedule, be realistic about how much time you need for each subject. Here are some tips:
- Schedule your toughest subjects when you tend to have the most energy and focus. For most people, that's in the morning or early afternoon.
- Alternate lighter and heavier subjects, and switch up which ones you study each day to keep it varied.
- Schedule at least 2 hours per week for studying sciences like chemistry, biology, and physics, where you need to memorize content and do lots of practice questions.
- Allow smaller slots of 30-60 minutes 2-3 times per week for humanities like English, history, and social sciences that involve more reading and writing vs practice questions.
- Schedule revision sessions leading up to exams, starting about 2 weeks before the exam date. Gradually increase the frequency of daily sessions in the last week.
- Block out time on weekends for assignments, projects, and preparing for upcoming tests.
- Build in buffer time each day for unplanned contingencies that may arise.
Stick with your schedule as much as possible, but allow some flexibility in case you need more or less time on certain subjects from week to week. Adjust as needed to find the right study routine.
3. Limit distractions
When it's time to study, put your phone on silent and turn off the TV. Close distracting tabs and apps on your computer. Find a quiet spot like your desk or a library where you can really focus. The less distracted you are, the more productive your study session will be.
Use productivity apps and extensions to help minimize distractions:
- Forest app - Grow virtual trees as a reward for staying off your phone during study sessions.
- Freedom app - Blocks distracting websites and apps during scheduled study times.
- SelfControl app (Mac) - Lets you blacklist distracting sites and lock yourself out for a set period of time.
- StayFocusd extension (Chrome) - Lets you block or limit time on distracting sites.
- RescueTime - Tracks time spent on websites and apps so you can identify and cut down on distractions.
- Strict Workflow - A Chrome extension for the Pomodoro technique to stay focused for 25-minute bursts, then take 5-minute breaks.
Turn off notifications from social media and chat apps so you aren't tempted to check them during study sessions. Silence your phone or switch it to airplane mode. Use productivity apps strategically to curb mindless browsing and stay laser-focused when it's time to study.
4. Take breaks
Don't try to work for hours on end without a break. Your mind needs rest to absorb information. After 45-60 minutes of intensely focusing on a subject, take a 10-15 minute break to recharge.
Breaks are essential for retaining information and staying sharp. Here are some tips for taking effective study breaks:
- Set a timer so you don't accidentally go over your allotted break time.
- Get up and move around to boost circulation. Do some light stretches or go for a short walk.
- Eat a healthy snack like fruits, vegetables, or nuts to refuel. Avoid sugary snacks that can cause an energy crash.
- Drink water to stay hydrated. Dehydration can impair concentration.
- Listen to relaxing music without lyrics, which can be less distracting than songs.
- Meditate, do deep breathing exercises, or splash water on your face to relax your mind.
- Review your notes right before the break ends to prime your brain for the next study session.
Avoid stimulants like coffee, energy drinks or heavy foods that can make focusing difficult when you return to studying. Don't get sucked into social media or texting, which can derail your momentum. Keep breaks low-key yet refreshing to maximize your time and productivity.
Well-timed breaks can dramatically improve focus, motivation, and mental agility. By giving your mind periodic rest, you'll retain more information and avoid burnout.
5. Get organized
Use binders, folders, and digital tools to organize your notes, assignments, and study materials for each subject. Neat organization will help you find what you need faster and not misplace anything.
- Use color-coded binders or folders for each subject. Keep all notes, handouts, and homework for a given subject together.
- Organize binders with dividers, tabs, and pockets to easily access materials. Keep a separate section for each unit or module.
- Hole-punch handouts and file them in binders so they don't get lost.
- Digital tools like Evernote, OneNote, and Google Drive are great for organizing notes, study guides, past exams, and more. Everything is searchable and accessible from any device.
- Use Google Calendar or a planner app to record assignment due dates, test dates, and activities. Set reminders so nothing sneaks up on you.
- Create separate digital folders for each subject's saved notes, slides, readings, and resource materials.
- Back up files in the cloud so you always have access to the latest versions of notes and assignments.
- Do a weekly review of binders and digital files to discard anything you don't need and organize recent materials.
Staying organized saves so much time and stress. You'll never have to scramble to find notes, study guides, or assignments when they're neatly filed by subject in accessible physical and digital systems. Develop organization habits that work for your learning style.
6. Ask for help
No student can or should have to tackle IGCSEs alone. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload or are struggling in a particular subject, don't wait - ask for help right away from teachers, classmates, tutors, or parents. Getting assistance early on can help you get back on track before you fall too far behind.
Your teachers are there to support you. Set up a time to meet one-on-one and explain the concepts you're having trouble understanding or skills you're struggling with. Come prepared with specific questions and topics to review. Most teachers will be happy to provide extra guidance or resources to help you grasp the material.
Connect with classmates who seem to have a good handle on the subject you're struggling with. Ask if you can study together or review each other's work to pick up valuable tips. Having a study buddy or group to master challenging material with can make a big difference.
Take advantage of tutoring resources at your school or learning center. An experienced tutor can assess your strengths and weaknesses and provide customized strategies to help you improve in problem areas.
If finances allow, consider hiring a private tutor for subjects you need extensive help with. The one-on-one attention can really aid mastery of concepts at your own pace.
Talk to your parents about any difficulties you're facing with your course load. See if they have advice on time management or study methods. If all else fails, they may be able to arrange professional tutoring services for you.
Rather than letting struggles spiral, be proactive in seeking the assistance you need. Utilize all the help available to get the guidance and support necessary to thrive in your IGCSE studies.
7. Take care of yourself
IGCSE exam preparation can be demanding, but don't neglect your health and well-being. Make sure to eat nutritious meals, exercise, and get sufficient sleep to perform at your best mentally and physically.
Aim for at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night, as sleep is essential for productive studying. Don't sacrifice rest to cram more - you'll retain more from shorter, well-rested study sessions. Maintain consistent bedtime and wake-up schedules, including weekends.
Fuel up with healthy snacks and meals. Complex carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables will provide steady energy. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Limit caffeine and sugary drinks, which can impair focus.
Make time for exercise, even just 30 minutes per day. Physical activity boosts circulation, reduces stress, and improves mental agility. Take study breaks to walk, stretch, or do other moderate exercise.
Beyond physical health, also nurture your mental well-being. Make time for relaxing activities like reading, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family. Pace yourself - don't try to cram everything into a single day.
Stick to a regular self-care routine. If stress builds up, try meditation, deep breathing, or journaling to clear your mind. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, and teachers when you feel overwhelmed.
Juggling a demanding IGCSE curriculum requires stellar time management skills. By staying organized, creating a study schedule, minimizing distractions, taking breaks, and seeking help when needed, you can effectively manage your workload.
Use planners and calendars to map out study sessions, assignments, exams, and extracurriculars. Designate set times each week to cover all your subjects. Limit distractions in your study environment and stay focused.
Remember to take short breaks while studying to recharge mentally. Eat nutritious snacks, hydrate, stretch your legs, or relax to a playlist. Seek guidance from teachers, tutors, or classmates in difficult subjects before you fall behind.
Don't neglect sleep, healthy food, exercise, and relaxation. Caring for your physical and mental health will improve focus and reduce stress. Maintain a consistent self-care routine.
With diligence and time management skills, you can conquer your IGCSEs without being overwhelmed. Stay proactive and organized and ask for assistance when required. By following these tips, you can keep stress in check and perform to the best of your ability. Believe in yourself and do your best. Your hard work will pay off with the IGCSE results you deserve.