Reading week is a week with no lectures or seminars that students can use to get on top of work and prepare for upcoming deadlines, similar to a 'half-term' that you might have at school. There are a variety of ways that you can make use of reading week, and not waste valuable time away from the classroom. Yes, it's very tempting to see it as a week off to socialise and chill out, but there are so many more ways that you can more efficiently maximise your time to get the best out of it.

1. Read

The clue is in the title - reading week involves reading! This is a great chance to catch up on any reading that you may need to do and go over any previous reading that you may have had earlier in the term. This is a great way to solidify your knowledge and ensure that you fully understand the work that has been set over the course of the module.

As well as the set texts, look to read around the subject and find more relevant literature that you can apply to your work to show that you have put the extra time in to explore more.
A collection of books. A little time. A lot of learning.
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2. Organise your time

After half a term of lectures and seminars, reading week can seem unstructured which can make it hard to set and stick to tasks that you may have. It is therefore important to make a plan and schedule all of the tasks that you need to do. This includes:

  • Reading,
  • Coursework assignments,
  • Exam revision,
  • Hobbies,
  • Social activities.

You'll see that hobbies and social activities are factored in - include them in your plan because it's unrealistic to solely focus on study for a week. Even if you take short breaks to watch an episode of a series on Netflix.

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Create a calendar. Populate the things that cannot change, such as sports practice, part-time shifts or a social event. Then prioritise your work around that and ensure that you can fit everything in that you need to complete. Using a calendar will allow for hourly time planning so that you can stick to tasks and ensure that they are completed.

3. Plan ahead

On the topic of calendar creation, reading week is a great time to plan ahead and schedule your workload for the rest of the term. This might be in the lead up to an exam, presentation or coursework deadline; but, reading week is a fantastic opportunity to take the time to plan for the rest of the term.

In a similar way to the calendar planning for reading week alone, you can do the same thing for the rest of the term ahead, just on a bigger and longer-term scale. Plan all of the activities you need to do with the ultimate deadline being the presentation or exam date, or coursework assignment due date.

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4. Remember the bigger picture

It can be very easy to get lost in extensive research or reading during reading week and become an expert. But, the key to success is to remember the bigger picture and the areas that are assessed, as they ultimately count towards your final grade.

When reading a piece of research or literature, assess its relevance to the overall module and degree that you are studying. If it bears no relation whatsoever, why are you reading it? Unless, of course, you are reading for fun and it is something that is relevant to your personal interests or development, for example future career plans.
Back to School - Animal Print
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5. Take time out

Even though this week is called reading week, it is important that you take some time out to actually rest your body and mind in order to avoid feeling exhausted at a later stage. Catch up on sleep, eat healthily and take care of yourself. If you don't, this could lead to burnout, which will send your productivity plummeting and reduce your level of motivation to succeed for the rest of the term.
Walkarounds in Amsterdam.
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar / Unsplash

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