In a blink of eye, the semester and international exam are coming to the end and the summer vacation is coming soon. During the first day of the vacation, I made some plans and preparations.m
In order to study diligently, you can utilise your free time, set plans and goals, read some books, finish your Personal Statement, and prepare for IELTS Exam.
During the semesters, students were busy preparing for their GCSE, IGCSE and A Level international exams. So the vacation can be a time to do other study tasks whether you are travelling, going outside or studying at home. This is also a time for students to overtake others.
Some students have also introduced some productive study tasks for the vacation in their blogs/vlogs, but some are extraneous and unnecessary. So, I have summarised the things I will do according to my experiences and past study strategies.
Today, I am going to introduce 16 study tasks to do during the summer vacation for A Level students to study diligently and productively. Here we go!
Note: Tasks for non-English native speakers who are preparing for English exams (e.g. IELTS, TOEFL) only are marked with *.
1. Set your Plan and Goals
The first thing you will need to do is to set your study plans and goals for your vacation. Without plans or goals, you will be less likely to motivate yourself.
For example, you can read some books, prepare for exams and competitions.
In the first day, I have set some daily and final goals for the summer vacation.
My Daily Goals
- Remember 10 English words.
- Read books/articles for 30 minutes and 1 chapter.
- Listen to English audio for 45 minutes.
- Speak and write English.
- Be mindful about English grammar, pronunciation, fluency and tone.
- Close all 3 rings on my Apple Watch.
My Final Goals
- Finish reading "5G and Internet" book.
- Finish reading "Internet Security" book.
- Finish reading "Kommen drei Logiker in eine Bar" book.
- IELTS Band 7.5 (7.0 per component, for Cambridge).
- Get a Prize in ACSL All-star Contest (Senior, Any prize).
- Fully refine and clean up my bedroom.
- Finish my Personal Statement.
- Start using Notion app.
- Update all previous website articles.
Use a Daily Goals Checklist
In order to ensure that I can achieve my daily goals every day, I have been using a daily goals checklist and I fill in it every evening before sleeping time since 2020.
I had used paper-based checklists previously, but I am now using my programmed Ken's Study Planner web-based app to manage my goals.
Since I am a Computer Science student with programming skills, I have made my website and this web-based Planner app by myself to solve my planning difficulties.
With this app, I can easily make a monthly summary of my goals because my computer and servers will help me to handle all the work.
2. Arrange your Projects and Tasks
The second thing you need to do is to make and maintain a list of your projects and tasks. I call it Daily Tasks List.
You can write down all the tasks you will need to do during the vacation first whether on paper or on your notes app. I often call it Tasks Pool.
Finishing a big task is complex, so you can separate them into some smaller steps to be allocated to different days. For example, in order to finish reading a book, you can read 1 chapter in a day.
Then you can create a separate note to list all your today's tasks. I arrange tomorrow's tasks list just before sleeping time, in conjunction with filling in my Daily Goals Checklist.
Finally, I also check my tasks list against my daily goals to ensure I can achieve them.
Set Project Deadlines
My Study Planner also has a feature that shows how many days are left until the deadlines of your projects. The boxes will turn orange when there are less than 7 days remaining.
As well as the projects and events list, I also have set some virtual (internal) deadlines for my projects, some of which are before the external deadlines.
For example, according to the list, I must finish this article on 10th July.
3. Make your Items Checklists
The third thing is to make a checklist of your items to be packed and taken before going outside your home.
Forgetting items, such as laptops, notebooks and calculators, can be frustrating and time-consuming for students. You need to be ready with your essentials to study continuously.
Some students may be forgetting their items while going outside due to their busy study tasks, but creating an items checklist can curtail the chance of forgetting items.
I have created several checklists for going to school, going to IELTS school, and travelling.
For example, you may need to take transit cards such as Yangchengtong (羊城通) in Guangzhou or Oyster in London while travelling around your city. You usually need to take your water bottle, face mask, phone, headphones, and so on.
The items checklists are also integrated into my Study Planner app. You also can write them down on a piece of paper or your Notes app.
I pack my bag and/or luggage before sleeping, which is also part of my Evening Routine.
4. Read Books and Articles
In the semesters, you have read a lot of textbooks to ace your exams. But in the summer vacation, you will have more time to read some extra books.
So, you can read books during the vacation which can be useful for your Personal Statement in the university applications.
I have already made a reading list for the vacation, including
- 5G and Internet
- Internet Security
- Kommen drei Logiker in eine Bar
As well as the books, you also can read some academic articles and other's blog articles. For example, I have subscribed to Imperial College News email in which the college releases new articles every weekday.
It is one of my daily goals. I can practise my IELTS reading skills.
It doesn't waste my extra time because I utilise my free time and read books/articles in the transportations such as underground, trains and planes.
I use the Reading List feature on Apple Safari so it can save the articles and even download them for offline reading *.
If you are not using Apple devices, you can use the Reading List in Chrome, Pocket app or record links in your Notes app instead.
I also release new articles about my personal study tips and habits on my website in my free time. You can subscribe to my email newsletter if you are interested in.
5. Listen to English Audio and Watch Vlogs
Another form for expressing information is the audio articles, including Podcasts and TED talks.
As well as the audio articles, you also can watch some YouTube videos and vlogs.
Some study vlogs can also give me motivations to study at the same place all the time (e.g. during lockdown) because they share their well-decorated bedrooms among different places.
Some videos only have a person speaking behind without other elements (e.g. scenery, moving places, tools), so I can treat them as audio articles to listen.
I also offer audio articles for the English version of my articles at the top so you can download the MP3 files and listen as well as the audioscripts. But please note that my pronunciation may not be as accurate as native speakers.
I usually listen to English audio on private cars (a form of transportation) to utilise my free time. I also watch vlogs during my morning and evening relax time in the 45 minutes at the beginning and end of the day.
My favourite studying channels:
There are several forms for expressing information to the public, including blog articles, videos (vlogs), WeChat public account articles, and audio articles (Podcasts).
Many students have their YouTube channels (vlogs) instead of blogs. Perhaps it is a good way to monetise.
While watching YouTube videos, I recommend you to turn off the captions so that you can practise your English/IELTS listening skills.
6. Collect and Remember English Words *
If you are a non-English native speaker who is preparing for IELTS or other English exams, you also need to remember English words.
While reading books or articles, you can collect your unfamiliar words and record them on your notebook. Then make your vocabulary flashcards either using a paper or an app (e.g. Quizlet).
For example, while you are reading English articles on my website, you can collect some unfamiliar words such as "deadline".
Then, you can remember the words using your flashcards in your free time.
Quizlet has a Study Streak feature that motivates you to study diligently every day. You can get daily and weekly streaks by keeping studying every day.
I have written another article describing how do I remember English words effectively. You can click the button below to learn more.Learn More
7. Preview Later Units
If you still have extra time, you can preview later units as possible.
For example, you can study AS subjects if you have just studied GCSE or IGCSE, or A2 subjects if you have just studied AS Level.
If you preview some unfamiliar knowledge, the knowledge points will be more understandable for you during your future lessons.
8. Decorate and Tidy Up your Bedroom
You also need to decorate and tidy up your bedroom to enjoy a clean, tidy, productive café-like study environment.
During the summer vacation, you can do this task in your free time to boost your productivity. Here are some examples.
The first thing you need to do is to organise the cables around your desk.
Messy cables appear everywhere around the desks. You may kick them accidentally while you are studying without realising it.
You can simply tidy them up using some stickers, plus some bandages for binding the messy cables. They can be stuck onto the wall or around your desk without any extra tools.
Decorate your Bedroom
Decorating your room can give you motivations while studying on your desk.
For example, I have entwined the cables with some rattans and fairy lights to hide the cables and improve the overall appearance.
I also have installed these items around my bedroom's pinboard and bookshelf and put a perfume and some electronic fake candles on my desk.
In addition to general bedroom decorations, I have also stuck some Great Study Habits are Productive posters around my bedroom.
For more information, you can look at my bedroom tour.My Bedroom Tour
Organise your Messy Items
Messy environment can create hurdles on your study path, in which you need more time to find your items you need in a pile.
So, you need to organise the items in your bedroom to save your study time.
For example, I have stuck some labels on my bookshelf, putting my items at correct places.
9. Discover and Share Knowledge in Real Life
You also can discover and share knowledge in real life while travelling.
Since 2018, I have been sharing academic knowledge in real life on social media and with our friends.
Applying knowledge in real life is beneficial. Not only can you remember the knowledge points firmly, but also you have the opportunity to study together with your friends and classmates.Learn More
The first knowledge point I have discovered and shared in real life was velocity in Physics (s=vt) in 2018 when I was in Grade 8 in junior high school.
10. Refine your Personal Statement
If you are going to apply to universities via UCAS in the next semester, you will need to refine your Personal Statement.
The Personal Statement needs to be checked and modified for hundreds of times to ensure its quality, so you need to take your free time to improve the structure, materials and language.
11. Prepare for and Take IELTS Exams *
If you are a non-English native speaker who is preparing for IELTS or other English exams, you need to take English exams such as IELTS and TOEFL unless your results already satisfy with the university entry requirements.
Because you will not be too busy in the summer, you can take some IELTS exams as the results will be useful for the university applications.
For example, in my 2022 summer vacation, I will take an IELTS exam at the end of July after the IELTS lessons.
My IELTS school is in a high-rise in the Guangzhou city centre, which will handle most of my study in July along with some TMUA online lessons at home.
The lessons are allocated randomly without conflicts with my other lessons within July.
During the days when I have no IELTS lessons, I take IELTS computer-delivered mock exams with the system provided by the IELTS school at home in the morning from 09:00 and then do other study tasks.
Again, my goal for this summer is Band 7.5 (7.0 per component).
12. Prepare for Admission Tests and Competitions
As well as the IELTS and Personal Statement, you may also need to prepare for university admission tests, such as TMUA, MAT, PAT, and STEP.
I participate in some online TMUA lessons at home in some days when I have no IELTS lessons.
In fact, I didn't study well in the past until Grade 9 when I have overtaken other students, so I have limited reading and language comprehension skills. I was struggling to study AS Maths (9709) in IGCSE grade, and AS Further Maths (9231, XFM01) in AS grade.
That's why I didn't have much time to read books and prepare for competitions in the semesters. But now is a good chance to do these tasks.
I will have an ACSL All-star Contest at the end of August, so I will have affluent time to make its preparations.
13. Setup your Separative Study System
A few months ago, I invented and have been using a new type of study strategy which is called Separative Study System.
My classmates are really into it and asked me to learn more about this because it makes my classmates more productive too.
Students usually do study tasks at school and play games and do other tasks outside the school at weekends and holidays. So, this invented system can make me more concentrated at school.
You can simply "lock" (i.e. not think about) some non-study tasks on weekdays and unlock them at weekends. For example, I mustn't use social media, open non-studying emails, and watch vlogs on school days.
Since 2018, when I was in junior high school where electronic devices were not permitted, I have been inventing new productive and diligent study techniques such as Daily Goals Checklist, Items Checklists, Separative Study System, and Great Study Habits Stickers.
I now can entwine my invented techniques and some evidence-based techniques shared by other students online, including Active Recall, Space Repetition, and Pomodoro.
However, this system is a little bit different in the summer. For example, I only lock non-study tasks between 09:00 and 18:00 during the day.
The lock can also be removed in advance by finishing all today's tasks early. This can motivate me to study without distractions.
In other words, I have two ways to unlock my non-study tasks. Either wait for expire or finish my today's tasks list in advance.
14. Take Exercise
You also need to take exercise to strengthen your body and be energised to study efficiently later on.
As I said above, one of my daily goals is to close all three rings on my Apple Watch, including Move, Exercise and Stand.
You can take exercise at your home, gyms, or while travelling.
15. Utilise your Free Time
The next diligent task I usually do is to utilise my free time.
Some students stay up late until 00:00 or even work around the clock to overtake others, but I don't recommend this because it maybe harmful for your body.
So, how do I do many study tasks in a day without sleeping late?
Well, I utilise my free spare time during the day, including while waiting in a queue, in the transportations such as buses and underground, and during class intervals.
For example, I can remember English words, read articles, watch vlogs, listen to audio, and so on. That's why I can both do more tasks and study at as early as 22:30 in a day.
Always utilise your free time to achieve your maximum study performance and overtake others.See What to Do in Transportations
16. Get Ready for your Next Semester
The last thing I will do is to prepare for my future study.
If you didn't prepare well during the last semester, it's now a chance to get ready for your next semester.
Once the new semester begins, you will not be able to start over. So, please be ready for your future study in this summer.
You can prepare for your notebooks, study strategies such as Separative Study System, study plans and goals, subject folders, and setup your Study Planner.See my Preparations Last Year (2021)
Explore More Study Tips
These are my suggestions about my productive and diligent study tasks in the 2022 summer for GCSE, IGCSE and A Level students. The international exam results will be released around August, but keep studying while waiting for your results.
I hope you can boost your efficiency and productivity and overtake others in this summer, and get more A* in your exams.
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Ken's Study Journey strives to provide high-quality articles about my tips and tutorials to study productively, together with some knowledge explanations. If you need help, I am here for you.
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