Picture this: you’ve just gone back to school in person, and all your teachers yarn on about “making up for lost time”. All of a sudden, you’re expected to complete 3 internals for different subjects!

It can be hard trying to juggle all that work while you’re still adjusting to the new school term and an uncertain school year. You may be feeling stressed, anxious, upset, or even angry. Where do you begin?

Luckily, we have some tips, tricks, and resources to help you get through a stressful situation like this. Pros: your mum will stop nagging you about your internals, you get access to some useful tools, and your teachers will be impressed. Cons: what cons? You’re getting work done! Let’s get cracking.

Managing Your Workload

Staying on top of your work is one of the best ways to juggle all the assessments coming your way. You can achieve this by organising your work.

Studies show that writing down daily tasks can:

  • Increase your productivity
  • Keep you engaged with the content you’re learning
  • Help you understand your limitations
  • Decrease your cognitive load (that’s a fancy term for how much information is crammed into your brain at one moment)

At the end of the day, getting good at time management can decrease your stress levels, lower your anxiety levels, and help you perform better at school.

Need some help with planning?

There are lots of resources out there that can help you log due dates, checkpoints, and draft deadlines. Here are a few that use different methods to plan your days:

The Eisenhower Matrix 

This method encourages you to order your tasks by importance and urgency. This method gives you four categories: Do First, Do Later, Delegate, and Don’t Do.

For example, if you have a draft for your English essay due today, you would put it under “Do First”. If you have a Geography task due in a week, you can put it under “Don’t Do.” Here is an app and website that helps you organise tasks using this method.

Study planners

This method is ideal for setting up daily tasks by the hour, where you can plan out the day ahead. You can jot down which subjects or modules you’d like to focus on in a one-hour time slot. This helps you structure your work throughout the day. You can access a study planner here.

Checklists

With these, you can tick off goals as they’re completed. Write a short sentence like “finish the first paragraph of Drama essay”, and checkmark it once it’s done. This is a pre-made checklist that allows you to fill out the information about the task names and when they’re due by. You can also write out additional notes if you like detailed ideas.

You could use these methods together to organise your day, too. For example, you could use the Eisenhower Matrix structure in a checklist, or sort your study planner hours into a checklist

Next on your to-do list? Getting into the nitty-gritty of the work itself.

Work Smart

When you’ve got a plan in mind, it’s easier to figure out how you’d like to structure your work. When you integrate some of these skills, you won’t have to rush to finish your assessments the night before they’re due.

All the skills mentioned here are proven to help you remember and recall information over long periods of time, space your study out to benefit your brain, and connect modules or assessment standards across different subjects.

What’s in the toolbox?

Retrieval learning

This skill teaches you to recall information that you’ve already learned, and move it from working memory (what you might know as short-term memory) to long-term memory. You can use the scientifically-backed Method of Loci. Let’s say you have to remember some biology topics:

  • Life Processes
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Variation

When you use the Method of Loci, you can build a mental image of your house, then chuck a topic in a “room” of your imaginary house. So, you can store Life Processes in the lounge, Gene Expression in the kitchen, and Genetic Variation in the bathroom. By connecting the topic to something familiar, you can retrieve it faster.

Spaced practice

This builds on retrieval learning and asks you to recall information over a long period of time (usually a few weeks). This is sort of like self-testing, but less stressful and better for your brain. It means that you don’t force your brain to remember large volumes of information all at once. That makes it harder for you to remember information.

Basically, retrieval works like this: when you learn something new, your brain creates a new path with neurons (cells that send and receive instructions from the brain). When you recall it, your brain is using that one particular path to remember information. Spaced practice helps you refresh that pathway by asking you to let your memory partially forget the information, then recall it every time you’re a bit rusty. This helps you recall more and more information over time.

Interleaved study

Sometimes, you might find that it’s easier to switch between multiple assessments when you’ve got a lot on your plate. This is actually a proven method that helps you with your memory and learning, but when you 

It helps because subjects have lots of skills to teach you. When you switch between lots of them, you’ll find that skills can be transferred across different subjects. Once you clock which skills can be used where you can improve the skill as a whole across a range of different scenarios. For example, writing essays for English might help you learn classics because both rely on the skill of critical thinking. Balancing equations in chemistry might help you learn maths formulas because they both rely on the skill of logical reasoning.

Chunking

This method encourages you to break large chunks (heh) of information down to bite-sized components. Chunking improves your ability to store information in the short-term. You can eventually link smaller bits of information together and combine it into one big topic that’s easier for you to remember.

As an example, let’s use the Level 2 Biology standard of Gene Expression. You can break it down into its topics — we’ll use DNA as our topic example. Then, you break the DNA topic down into specific details. Here is a great example of how you can break down the Level 2 Gene Expression topic into small, simple, and easy-to-learn components, just by the way.

Staying Motivated

Getting all these assessments done at the same time could leave you exhausted, demotivated, and stressed. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself when you’ve got all that work to get through.

Even though some people might tell you that these little rewards won’t really help you finish your work, some people say that this isn’t true!

There’s been a lot of discussion around the way we reward ourselves for work. A lot of studies used to say that praise worked better as motivation. Some more recent studies have told us that “rewards”, like an hour of social media or a few lollies, can motivate you more than praise or affirmations. Because you need an extra push, rewarding yourself with things you like for doing work you might not like can actually help you get things done.

If you find that cheerleading just doesn’t cut it for you, maybe try:

  • Scheduling breaks: Go do something else for a change: take a walk, talk to your mates, or have a snack.
  • Treating yourself: Find it difficult to keep your eyes on a page? Give yourself a mini chocolate when you finish a section.
  • Getting in contact: Doing assessments on your own for a long time can make you lonely. Reach out to your friends for a chat when you’ve finished an essay. They’ll help you take your mind off things!
  • Watching something: Mix it up, open up Tik Tok, and enjoy yourself. Only for twenty minutes or something, though. Just enough time to rewire your thinking and decrease that cognitive overload.

 

Congratulations, you’re about to polish off multiple assessments!

You’re ready to go! If you organise your schedule, apply some of the learning skills we’ve suggested, and take breaks between your work, you’ll survive all those assessments you’ve got. Although let’s be honest, you won’t just survive them, you’ll ace them!

 

 

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