Filofax for studying

Warning: Pretty poor photo quality ahead. Our internet is down at home, and so I’m stuck in the crowded uni library, which explains the terrible lighting etc. My general camera ineptitude and the fact I’m using my phone explains the rest….

On philofaxy a few days ago, Graham had emailed in to ask about tips for using a filofax for studying. As a full time undergraduate student, I love my filofax. I’ve got an A5 Finsbury which is pretty much the perfect size for me.  I’ve tried student specific planners, notebooks, wall calendars, online timetables and a whole bunch of other planning methods in the past, but I find my filofax to be by far the most useful.

In terms of studying, I have three sections that get used – the diary, my ‘uni’ tab, and my (so far mostly empty) project tab.

First things first, the diary

Left half only - excuse the white boxes (they block personal info)

As you can see, from my Monday-Wednesday photo I’ve got all my lectures on here (pale blue), as well as things to remember/deadlines (red), and things to do (purple). I also keep track of my other day-to-day goings on – sports & socials (pale green), non-uni commitments (dark blue) and my spending (dark green).

I like the week to view format, since I can see at a glance all my deadlines for the week. and the appointments view gives me enough writing space.

Honestly though, this isn’t my dream diary. I’d really love the TM week to view available on philofaxy.  I’d change the titles a little though – from ‘task’ to ‘to do’ (purely nitpicking!), from ‘Notes/Reminders’ to ‘don’t forget’ (feels more urgent), ‘Communications’ to ‘StudentSpyGlass’ (my very new blog’s name) and ‘coming up’ to ‘spending’.

However, since I don’t have a filofax hole punch, or the patience to argue with the source files and my printer long enough to organise this, the TM view is (for now at least) a pipe dream.

Uni tab

My uni tab is very very thin, but so helpful, especially for revision. First of all I have a year to a page calendar, with all my exams and deadlines ruled in red. This is mostly just used for planning when to go home since my deadlines are all in the main diary section anyway. Then I have a to-do sheet for each of my modules, with a 1 line prompt for each lecture covered. When it comes to revision, I simply tick off the lectures I’ve already covered.

This is honestly a lifesaver for me – as soon as a lecture is finished I can write in something like

‘Lecturer’s initials – Lecture title – point that stuck out for me’

which means I can actually remember what was covered, which notes I need etc. A lot of the time module outlines don’t quite match up with what’s been done – lecture 12 gets brought forward in the course, the focus for lecture 3 on the module outline isn’t the same as the focus in the lecture etc.

Finally I have a sheet with my current modules (just two this term), and the assessment breakdown. Once I’ve been given my marks for that particular assessment I can put in the percentage I have over all, and therefore the marks I need in the final exam for a particular grade.

There’s some long-winded maths involved by doing it by hand, but it is by far the most helpful sheet in my filofax!

The explanation behind the maths, in case anyone is interested.

For each assessment: Percentage achieved x percentage available
Add those together, subtract from desired overall percentage.
Divide final answer by total percentage still available.

Conservation report, worth 40%. I achieved 74%. 0.74 x 40 = 29.6. In other words, I’ve ‘banked’ 29.6% of the available 40%.

Conservation mid-term, worth 10%. I achieved an A+, no percentage given. Assume 80% (since my 74% was an A-, this seems like a reasonable estimate). 0.8 x 10 = 8%. I’ve banked a further 8% of 10.

Add the 29.6 to the 8 = 37.6% ‘banked’

For a first, I need 70%.

70-37.6 = 32.4% – this is how much I need to come away with.

32.4 divided by the percentage available on the mid-term (50) = 64.8% This means I need 65% of the marks available in order to come out with a first over all for the module.

The maths involved makes my brain hurt if I think about it too much, but I find this SO helpful. For one thing, it means I can see which modules I’m doing well in, and which I need to up my game in, which helps a lot for setting priorities in revision. As well, it means that if I get a bad mark, I can find out early on in the term how hard I need to work to balance it out. Not only does that mean I’m prepared, it can also put a mark into perspective. If for example, you only got 30% on a test, it can be really disheartening to think that all your hard work for the rest of the term is for nothing. By working out the maths, you can figure out just how much of an impact it’s had on your grade – if for example the test was only worth 10% it wouldn’t alter things much at all, which can leave you feeling determined instead of depressed!

The final tab in my filofax used for studying is mostly empty. This is for my third year project, which isn’t due to officially start until next term. I’m doing a literature review, instead of the typical experimental project, which means I have hundreds of references. This section of my filofax contains a sheet of notepaper per chapter title, and a list of references I want to use in that section, so I can keep track!

9 thoughts on “Filofax for studying

  1. Great blog post! I especially like the idea of a to-do list style check-off for lectures, I think I might have to adapt this for next year! I also find my Filofax invaluable at university, but am still searching for my ultimate set up. Looking forward to reading more of your blog, ninegrandstudent

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