Reading week, similar to the concept of ‘half term’ that you might be familiar with from school, is a mid-semester break for university students.
During reading week, no teaching takes place and students are free of most university commitments. The purpose of reading week is to give students an opportunity to catch up on their studies, and prepare for upcoming exams or assignments.
Not every student will have a reading week- it varies by university and degree. Usually, reading weeks are reserved for students enrolled on more literature-heavy courses.
If you do have a reading week, and are not sure how best to use it, you’ve come to the right place! Here are our top tips for making the most out of your term break:
Consolidate your knowledge from the past weeks
The chances are that you’ve been subjected to A LOT of new information and concepts so far this semester. It can be really difficult to digest and retain this much knowledge, so consolidation of your learning from the past few weeks of teaching is very important- and you can use reading week to do so!
Consolidate what you have learnt over the past weeks using these methods:
- Return to topics that you have already been taught, and practise active recall. Active recall is a study technique that seeks to draw out information from your brain and expose gaps in your knowledge. This strategy will give you a better understanding of what you do and don’t remember from this semester, and will show you which areas you need to focus on more. Check out this YouTube video for more information on the active recall method.
- If you haven’t already, make notes on what you have learnt. Writing information down forms new pathways in your brain, which will help to store the information in your long-term memory. You can make your notes more effective by writing them in your own words, colour-coding them, and keeping them concise. This article by the University of Reading is a helpful guide on note-taking.
Create a plan for the rest of the semester
You should come back to university after reading week feeling in control and prepared for the next few weeks of term.
Achieve this by planning ahead for the rest of the semester. Make your plan visible (either on paper or on your device) so that you can frequently skim over it and stay on top of any tasks or approaching deadlines.
Here is some advice on creating a great semester plan:
- Record all deadlines and exam dates. This will give you sight of how long you have to complete the necessary work for these events.
- Break your deadlines up into milestones; for example, if you have a 2000 word essay to write, split it into 200 word increments that need to be completed by certain dates. This will help to make your deadlines seem more manageable.
- Make to-do lists. To-do lists can help you to stay on track with your action items, no matter how big or seemingly small. Having a to-do list for each day will stop you from forgetting about tasks that need to be done, and the feeling of ticking off each task will be satisfying!
Get started on coursework
Reading week is the perfect time to start working on any assignments that you’ve been set, and might have been putting off!
As we said earlier on in this blog, break your assignments up into smaller, more manageable chunks to streamline the completion process.
Start reading early. There’s nothing worse than not having enough knowledge to complete an assignment, and having to cram in literature just before the due date. Use your reading week to consume the information that you need, and have the citations on hand so that you don’t have to scramble for them later down the line!
Set yourself a soft deadline for completion of your assignment: at least a few days before the actual deadline. This way, you will have plenty of time to look over and make changes to your work before you need to submit it.
Take time to edit. The editing process should be careful and meticulous, to ensure that you don’t skip past any spelling or grammatical mistakes. Also make sure that your bibliography is up to scratch, as it’s easy to lose marks from mistakes here.
Revise for exams
Exam revision is tedious and time-consuming, but it’s got to be done!
Reading week is an excellent opportunity to start revising early for your upcoming winter exams (usually taking place once students return from the Christmas holidays).
Here are our tips for revising for your exams over reading week:
- Go distraction-free. Whilst you’re focusing on study, try to remove any distractions from your environment to ensure maximum productivity. Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode, remove any clutter, and choose somewhere quiet.
- Study in short bursts. If you try to study for sessions that are too long, your brain might not be as efficient at retaining information. The Pomodoro technique is a popular strategy for studying, whereby the student studies in shorter bursts called ‘pomodoros’ followed by short breaks. Watch this video to learn how to do it.
- Take regular breaks. Breaks help to keep your mind agile and productive whilst studying. Take breaks at least every 90 minutes to avoid burnout.
Spend time with friends and family
Whilst reading week might be a chance to focus on your studies, it is also a good time to hang out with your friends and family.
Many students use reading week as an opportunity to go home for a few days, where they might not have had the chance to earlier in the semester due to normal term-time activities.
Make the most out of your break and catch up with friends who are also studying; university can be challenging, so it’s always nice to check in and chat with people in a similar position to you.
Get some well-deserved rest
University life can really take its toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Whether you’re recovering from a case of the dreaded ‘freshers’ flu’, or just feel a bit burnt out, you should use your reading week to relax and recuperate.
The next few weeks and months of university are going to be action-packed and chockablock with deadlines so take the time now to reflect on the semester so far, check in on your mental health, and get some sleep.
Do activities that you find rejuvenating and stress-relieving, whether that’s going for a walk in the park, watching a film, or drinking tea.
Reading week is also a great time to start practising healthy habits that you can take forward with you for the rest of term, such as eating a balanced diet and improving your sleep cycle.
We hope that the advice was useful, and that you have a wonderfully relaxing and productive break!
Be sure to check out the Roome website, where we post loads of tips and tricks for university students every single week. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to learn more about how we’re revolutionising the student housing market!
Posted by Owen Redman
Co-founder of Roome