‘Inside UVA’: Listen to These Study Tips Ahead of Final Exams. They Start May 4!

April 12, 2023 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’ With Daniel Willingham(22:29)

Psychology professor Daniel Willingham talks about how to study smarter in season two of President Jim Ryan’s podcast, “Inside UVA.”


Students, do you plan by task or by time?

Meaning, when there is something on your to-do list, like writing a final paper for your English literature class, do you say to yourself, “Well, the paper is due Monday morning, so I’m going to write it Sunday night.” Or do you say, “My paper is due Monday, so I’m going to spend an hour working on it each day the week before.”

The answer for many students is probably the first one. That approach is called a “planning fallacy.” And it doesn’t just happen to students – it happens to everyone.

That’s according to psychology professor Daniel Willingham, a well-regarded scholar who has been a member of the University of Virginia since 1992. “‘Planning fallacy’ refers to the fact that we consistently underestimate how long it’s going to take us to complete a task,” he told President Jim Ryan on his latest “Inside UVA” podcast

“Planning by time means that every day, you are you have a block of time that you are going to devote to work. And it doesn’t matter what’s due tomorrow, the next day,” Willingham said. “And if you don’t have anything due tomorrow, then you’re working on things that are due next week. So, one advantage is that this is more likely to allow you to have a little bit of a cushion.”

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Ryan was talking with the psychology professor about his approach to teaching and his latest, best-selling book, “Outsmart Your Brain: Why Learning Is Hard and How You Can Make It Easy.”

Willingham’s tips for making learning easier come at a great time, with final exams beginning May 4. Learn more about them by listening to the entire episode – and previous podcasts – on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications