In a year, I will be taking a difficult entrance exam at a renowned postgraduate school. There are many competitors, most of whom are smart. Despite that, I'm aiming at becoming #1 in the exam, and that's why I have started preparing now.

I have interviewed a few top candidates of the past years and already learned which books I should read and how much I should study every day.

I think that learning more about planning would help me a great deal. But those books on planning and goal-setting mostly focus on reaching financial goals. I have not managed to find any books befitting my situation.

Another thing is that, because the duration is quite long, I'm afraid that my enthusiasm may start weakening after a few months into it, no longer performing at my best.

So, here is my question: How can I a make one-year study-plan for myself, and remain motivated in the long run?

Also, any suggestions about books, software, etc. that will help me reaching my goal will be appreciated.

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    Check the Study tag on Personal Productivity SE for some other tips. Mar 1, 2014 at 17:25
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    short-term goals + reward system is very helpful. For example "In one month I want to be finished with chapter 1 of this study guide, and for accomplishing that I will allow myself ..."
    – bdeonovic
    Jun 17, 2014 at 13:03

4 Answers 4


I would recommend you not to rely upon external entities for motivation. Rather then relying upon just some books and software, practice "Self Motivation".

Each day think about the happiness and satisfaction that you will achieve once you got an admission in the targeted postgraduate school.

Furthermore, browse through the list of notable alumni from the same school and make a target that you will also feature in the same list some day.

It will encourage you to put 100% effort each day without losing excitement.


When I went through this, the thing that kept me most motivated was not doing it alone.

To get through this, I joined a group of 4 of my peers who were studying for the same tests. We met twice a week for several hours and planned out before each meeting which chapters we would discuss. When someone felt they had a particular understanding of the subject matter for the chapter, they would lead the discussion on that chapter.

There were several advantages to this approach.

  1. I was motivated to attend because not doing so would affect the group
  2. I was motivated to honestly read the chapter and not just skim it if I thought I knew the content already
  3. I found that there were things that I thought I understood that I did not. Explaining your understanding of something to someone else is a great way to find all of the holes in your understanding of it
  4. In our case, the exams were based on courses we had taken already so we all had notes and previous exams from those courses and were able to share those resources.

In our case, several of us had family. A structured time to meet and discuss provided us a way to work with our already overloaded schedules. We chose to meet on campus in the evenings as our department is open 24/7 to students by keycard. This allowed other students studying for the same thing to drop in and out of our meetings when they were interested in particular topics.

  • I didn't read the question well enough, the op is asking about entrance exams not comprehensive exams.
    – cs_alumnus
    Aug 20, 2014 at 17:03

I am going to take a different strategy than suggest you need to stay motivated and positive. You can be super motivated and positive, but still not reach this goal. Focus on principles of effective and efficient learning. Create a study plan and use study strategies that maximize every bit of your study time. Here are a few possible strategies to consider.

1) Establish a fixed study schedule that is realistic. An overly ambitious plan will likely lead to early failure. What is a realistic plan that you can reasonably adhere to for the course of a year?

2) Avoid binge-study periods. Breaking your study sessions into shorter but more frequent times is more effective than marathon / binge study sessions. You can take advantage of the 'recency' and 'primacy' effects in learning.

3) Be certain that you are monitoring your study sessions. Make sure you are giving yourself credit only for productive studying.

4) Measure / monitor your progress. This is important to ensure that you are moving forward in your study plan. You can do this by specifying measurable objectives, perhaps on a weekly basis. For example, "By Friday, I want to have accomplished ... "

5) Try to obtain practice tests that are similar in structure or content to the one you will be taking.


making plan is essential for the exam but rather more imp is to excute daily and alway remember ur goal ... if u able for the exam then u also able for making strategy or plan ownself...

so belive in ownself,hardwork,smartwork systematicity ,mindset,ur god and positive think ...

never give up... always think about ur goal ,goal,goal...so...on

  • 1
    What does "simple se baat hai ydi tumhe exam nikalna hoga to tum exam nikal doge nhi nikalna hoga jitna bhe kosis kr lo nhi hi niklega becuse garmi nahi june me hoti hai nahi uoon me hoti hai vo to sirf jonoon me hoti hai" mean?
    – Nobody
    Jun 17, 2014 at 7:50
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    I was going to edit it until I got to the last paragraph... @scaaahu I believe it is an arcane incantation.
    – Davidmh
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:10
  • @Davidmh I would tolerate that paragraph if it is on somebody's blog. But, this is Academia stack exchange. Can people with >10k rep take action on this one?
    – Nobody
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:34
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    @scaaahu I think that this does not strictly warrant deletion, as it is just a really, really, really bad answer (but does not fall into any of the deletion categories). I think downvoting is the right thing to do here. I have removed the last paragraph, though.
    – xLeitix
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:44

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