Make Reading Week Work For You

After a long nine weeks of classes, we can finally take the time to relax during our much-needed reading week. While no doubt all that’s on your mind is a well-earned break after what can only be called an endless barrage of assignments and midterms (as professors tried to get them out of the way before reading week even began), I hope that you'll take some time out of your reading week to work on your courses.

One of the beautiful things about the reading week—besides going home if you're lucky enough—is that it's a week where you have no scheduled readings or assignments. What this means is that you can get a head start on readings for the following weeks as we approach exams. You can also start some of your larger assignments or essays if you haven't already, and get a head start on studying for any exams you have during the winter examination period if your midterms have already been completed. Or perhaps your professors have decided to make your assignments due the week after reading week instead of before, in which case I’d definitely recommend not putting them off—you really have no excuse!

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't relax during reading week—I definitely think you should. Take the time to sleep in or binge your favourite Netflix shows! Yes, the reading week should be a time to hit pause and take a breather from the hectic day-to-day that the weeks leading up to it sometimes become—but don’t let relaxing be the only thing you do, or you might find yourself in a really horrible position come Sunday.

The problem is, if you decide not to do any coursework during the reading week in favour of sleeping all day, going out or working at a part-time job every day, you'll end up just as stressed when reading week ends as you were when it began. If you decide to complete even just a little bit of studying or your assignments during the reading week, you'll be less stressed later on.

I'm personally looking at reading week as just a normal week that I happen to not have classes. I’m still scheduling myself time to study and making my to-do lists full of the various tasks I need to accomplish or hope to complete for my courses. As much as I’d love to take the whole week to do nothing, I also know that by this point in the term I’ve gotten into a good rhythm of studying, and taking a week-long break now would undermine the routine I’ve established and make it much harder to go back to studying regularly after the reading week is over.

Considering the next four weeks up to exams will be the most jam-packed with studying and assignment-deadlines, I’d much rather work on my courses during a week when I have no other obligations. Studying during the reading week has the added benefit of making you feel extra productive and ahead of the game because there is nobody except yourself to hold you accountable for those upcoming deadlines.

Do yourself a favour and try to do something—anything—related to your degree during the reading week, and save yourself the heartache and stress that is still to come. You don’t have to study for hours upon hours to accomplish this; adding in just an hour or two a day during the reading week will put you worlds ahead of where you would be if you decided to do nothing. Taking an hour or two out of the time you’d otherwise be relaxing may seem minor, but it can make all the difference.

Reading week is a break, yes, but it also gives you the opportunity to get ahead—or caught up. So this year, make reading week work for you instead of you working hard just to get to reading week.

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