The winter holiday is perhaps one of the most difficult to plan. Some students will be in college doing telethons or acting as runners for admissions interviews, some will have caring responsibilities at home, some will be busy working in paid employment, and some will be busy with family events. While some of these obligations may be refreshing and enjoyable, they do not allow much time for complete rest or for academic work.

The first thing to consider is rest and sleep, regular meals, and spending time with friends or family. Try to spend a good third of the vacation on these and other non-academic pursuits.

The remaining two-thirds is for work of various kinds, but try to have at least two weeks of academic-related study. However much time you have, divide it into two, and allocate one half of that for looking back over the term just gone and one half for looking forward to the next.

Plan to work for about 6 hours on weekdays. If you are focused this will be more than enough.

Looking back
Try to get notes and submitted work (essays, problem sheets, etc) into some sort of order and read through them to make sure you have all you need. There is no need at this stage to add many additional notes; just see where there may be any gaps and fill them if they are important. If you have collections next term, look at past papers and practise writing introductions for essays or writing mathematical models and be aware of the length of time allotted to different types of questions in past papers. An answer to a one-mark question usually has to be dealt with in about 1.5 minutes in an exam, so practising how to say what you need to say briefly will pay dividends in future.

If your tutors have set vacation work, try to get it done at this stage rather than leaving it to the end of the vacation.

Looking forward
This means doing any pre-reading you may have been set or looking at the course outline to see what will be involved in the papers you have chosen for next term.

If you have exams coming up soon, look at our online guides for FHS revision planning and prelims/mods revision planning and start to set a timetable for yourself.

If you have any serious concerns about any aspect of your work, plan to tackle it soon. Contact your tutor to arrange a meeting, plan to attend their office hours, or come to study skills session at OSSC.

If you plan to apply for internships, jobs, or further study, take a bit of time each day to research them and apply. Doing that all in one rush can make the resulting application stale and uninteresting. Look at our online guide for what to put in a personal statement for postgraduate study, which applies as much to work as to academic applications.