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Folders: Why They’re Better Than Exercise Books

Since I started teaching in schools, there is one thing that I have become strangely passionate about: I hate exercise books. I just don’t think they work for English! Folders are much better for so many reasons. They give you the freedom that you never thought you’d have, keep all your work together and teach you some valuable life skills.

If you want to improve your organisation and always know where your work is, I highly recommend that you consider using a folder.

Of course, as a student, there is only so much you can do. At the end of the day, your teacher has the last say in where you do your work. However, you can petition them. School might not be a complete democracy (or even a democracy at all) for its students, but you do have a voice. Send them this blog post, if you want! I will try my best to give lots of reasons why folders are better than exercise books.

If you have control over what you use (or you think you can convince your teacher to change their mind), get yourself a nice lever arch folder. There are plenty of reasons why folders just work. Let me explain the wonders to you!

Please be aware: this blog post contains Amazon links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Why You Should Make the Switch to English Folders Now

Sometimes, exercise books are great. I had them for maths and science (although my science teachers did use some of the methods I recommend later on). I used them for pretty much every subject where we worked mainly from one textbook. You could just write down the page number or the question and do the work you were set.

English isn’t like that, though. Teachers take articles from everywhere! They make their own examples, and you have plenty of work to do. In fact, I don’t know of a single English teacher who works off a single textbook. Sometimes, they’re great! Other times, the work in them is not at the right level (either too easy or too hard), and you have to go on a hunt for work that suits your class’s level more.

For students, this is a real nightmare. Your teachers give you out worksheet after worksheet and ask you to stick them all in your books! That can work just fine. However, you might not have access to a glue stick! Or scissors! Or, you might accidentally use a bit too much glue and stick your pages together! Disaster!

That’s why folders are so great for English. In fact, they’re great for plenty of other subjects, too! I had one for history, media studies, French and even drama! Pretty much any subject where people can have huge disagreements with one another on interpretations, or teachers want to stay up to date with current affairs. That way, teachers can look up the writing of other people and (legally) give you snippets of the work to look at.

Still not convinced? Well, let me give you some more specific reasons why folders are the best!


It is Easy to Reorganise a Folder

Have you ever been to a revision session? If you have, did your teacher ever go over something again to help you understand it? Now, you want that work to go with the right topic so that you can revise a little easier. There’s been a lot of work since then, though, and you have no space in the right section of your book!

Or maybe you accidentally wrote on the wrong page, and now you have a huge gap in your book that you need to fill up. How in the world are you supposed to change the order of the work in a book? You can’t do much, really!

Well, you don’t have that problem with a folder. You just flick that lever up and take a page out. Move it to where it needs to go. Then, push the lever down, close the folder and enjoy the fact that you barely had to do any work at all!

The rest of the folder organisation is just about deciding how to arrange your work. Personally, I say that you should put your most recent work at the back so that it looks a lot like your workbook. The thing you did at the start of the term should be right at the front of the folder! We will go into why in a little bit.

You Don’t Waste Time With Cutting and Sticking

Let’s face it. We spend way too much time cutting and sticking in English. Do you even stick stuff in when your teacher asks you to? Plenty of my students don’t even bother! The ones who do? Well, they like to use the cut-and-stick process to waste time in class.

Sure, the school I’m at right now wants me to dedicate a bit of time in the lesson to sticking stuff in. That’s easier said than done, though! I mean, we English teachers are offering a bit of a two-for-one deal! We have to get students ready for two GCSEs in the same amount of time. Glueing sheets in just wastes the precious little time we have!

Then there’s my big faux pas in my last school. These kids didn’t write their names on their homework! They can’t take their books home – and even if they did, they wouldn’t stick their work in. So, my mentor asked me if I could stick work in books during my free time. She gave me a pile of work and told me whose books each piece belonged to.

I stuck a piece of homework in a girl’s book because we both thought it matched her handwriting. It turns out, I was wrong. Eep!

If you have a folder, there’s no sticking stuff in. You might still forget to write your name on your homework, but there’s no PGCE student with a glue stick in hand trying to parse out your writing style. It would have been much easier for me if I could just hole punch work and hand it back! Then, they can figure out who wrote what all on their own.

Then, there are the glue issues. It runs out. It dries out. Frankly, it’s just a nightmare!


You Can Take Control of Loose Sheets

Have you ever had an exercise book that is just spilling with loose sheets? You’re not the only one!

English is one of those subjects where a teacher will eventually need to print off a sheet or two. You just can’t do all the tasks that would help you to do well without a printer! Even if you could, it would involve writing out whole questions or drawing diagrams, which is not a very good use of your time or your energy. You wouldn’t be copying down much of value, so it wouldn’t help with your learning!

So, you’re going to have some sheets on your hand at some point. That means you will need to stick them in! If you don’t have access to a glue stick or pair of scissors, it is natural to stick the sheet in between some pages and tell yourself that you’ll do it later. Will you actually do it, though?

Lots of students think they will stick their sheets in later and then just forget about it. That’s natural. To be honest, unless your school dedicates some time to book organisation, you’re going to have way more important things to do in your life. That means you’ll probably end up with a very messy book with lots of loose sheets falling out! With a book like that, you’re bound to lose an important sheet at some point!

If you have a folder, you have much more control of all that extra paper. Hole punching takes much less time than cutting and sticking. Plus, you don’t have to make sure that the sheet is straight on the page. A good hole punch will have a guide to help you line up your paper and punch the holes in the right place.

Folders Prepare Students For Life

As you move on with your life, you will eventually have to use folders. People just use folders more than they use exercise books in the real world!

Plus, lots of subjects require folders for A-level study and beyond. You will need to engage with articles, studies and other texts from lots of different places. There just isn’t a single textbook that will cover them all. If you use an exercise book, it will end up being made up of mostly stuck-in sheets!

You might think, “why would I need preparation to use a folder?” Well, there are a few learning curves to overcome. Here are a few:

  • You need to write the name of the topic on the tab (or front cover) of the folder dividers.
  • The work for a topic needs to go behind the divider tab it belongs to. Not in front.
  • You need to rest your paper straight against the hole punch guide to ensure that the pages are all uniform in the folder.
  • Most of the time, your earliest work in a topic should be at the start of the divider. The latest work should be at the end. That means you need to go to the back of the tab and add new work there each time. If your teacher has another way that they want you to organise your folder, they will tell you.

Folder organisation is a skill that can help you for the rest of your life. A-level essay subjects require folders. If you get an office job, you will need to use folders at some point. Those aren’t the only reasons, though! You will need folders if you want to be a teacher. If you have a more practical job, you might still need to log accident reports.


Books Potentially Waste More Paper

There are so many reasons why your exercise book could be wasting more paper than a folder.

First of all, there’s the fact that it is very unlikely that you will finish the book at the end of the year. You might finish it early and need a second book (it’s not like there’s anywhere else you can write for the rest of the year). Or, you might just never finish your first book in the first place. Either way, there will be loads of pages at the end that just go unused.

You could rip them out, but… *cue tortured teacher noises*. If you’re going to rip out sheets, please do it from the staple at the middle where it won’t look unsightly. If you’re already written on those middle pages, you’ve either got to make your book look ugly or just leave them where they are.

Then there’s the fact that you are sticking paper on paper. What a waste! That’s a big portion of a page that you could have used to write on!

Finally, if you’ve ever lost a worksheet and asked for a new one, that’s a waste of paper, too. A sheet or two could rip out of a folder and go missing, but lever arch files have a clip or clamp to hold the paper in place even if it’s not hole punched in anymore. That makes your paper harder to lose – if you make sure to put it straight in your folder, of course!

Folders waste less paper because you only store what you have used (or what you are sure you’re going to use). That’s much better for the trees, in my books! Excuse the pun.

Folders Are Reusable

Another thing that makes folders better for the planet is that you can use them over and over again.

Finished your GCSEs? Well, just use the same ones for your A-levels! Invest in a pack of lever arch labels to stick over the old name of the folder. It will look as good as new again!

Make yourself a folder or two of the GCSE stuff that you think you could use later on. Anything that doesn’t fit the cut? Well, you can just recycle it.

You might wonder: what about all the paper in your actual books? You can recycle that, right? Well, it depends.

If you want to select certain pages to keep, you’ll have to rip them out or keep the whole book. I don’t know about you, but the thought of an exercise with jagged rips in it gives me a little bit of anxiety. I guess I’d need to keep the whole book or chuck the whole thing and forget about the pages I want to keep. Or maybe I could photocopy them, I guess.

Then there’s the question of whether it’s actually possible to recycle your old books. According to Russell Richardson, a recycling company, “big blobs of glue” count as contaminants. That means that you can’t recycle pages that have lots of glue on them without potentially destroying a whole batch of recycled paper. If you want to recycle those pages that you’ve stuck in, I guess you need to check how much glue you’ve used!

This applies to lots of other art supplies, too, by the way. You can’t recycle stuff like glitter or paint. If you aren’t sure what you can or can’t recycle, please check with your local centre for more info.


If You Suffer From Visual Stress, You Can Use Coloured Paper

Some people have something called Visual Stress. I mentioned it a little in my blog post about dyslexia because the two often go hand-in-hand. Lots of dyslexic people have visual stress. You can have one and not the other, though!

You might have noticed that this site has a light grey background, not a white one. That’s to help people with visual stress. It is affected by colour!

In the past, I have recommended a visual stress relief pack and an overlay to fit your screen. They can help quite a bit, since white backgrounds aren’t the best for people who have visual stress. These packs have translucent, coloured squares that you can use to make reading a little easier.

One big way to help, though, is to write on coloured paper. In fact, you could print on it, too!

You can pick up some tinted lined paper to help you with your reading. Plus, it helps you to style your folder in a way that fits your personal style! There is also tinted printing paper that can help! Your teacher might be happy to print in a tinted colour, but keep the relief pack around, just in case. Hey! You can keep it in your folder!

Ok, yes. There are tinted exercise books around that you can use. They are more expensive than the standard books, though – and with almost half the number of pages! It’s cheaper to buy tinted paper and hole punch it when you need to.

Since folders offer a lot more freedom and flexibility, you can adapt them to suit your needs in a way that you just can’t with a book.

The Flexibility of a Folder Helps With Presentation

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a student in my class come in with a messed-up book. Some have had muddy footprints pasted on the front. Others have had the cover slip off the rest of the book! There have been rips, frayed edges and drink spills – just to name a few book ailments! It is inevitable that someone will mess up their book at some point.

Folders aren’t immune to this, of course. School is school. While I am sure some teachers will yell and hope that will get through to you, there’s only so much they can do! In fact, there is only so much you can do. You can’t help it if your little sister jumps on your bag, or if your water bottle explodes.

However, with a folder, it is much easier to correct these mistakes and move on! You don’t have to rip out pages or just look at that wrinkled book and cringe. Instead, you can just open that binder and remove the offending pages in a dignified way. Or, if the outside is destroyed, it only takes a little bit of time to move all your work to a new one.

If you are doing your GCSEs, you will need most (if not all) of the work that you do in class. This means you will need to look back at your year 10 work in year 11. It will help you with your revision later on. So, it’s nice to be able to have it all in one place! Get yourself a nice lever arch file, and you’ll never have to go on a hunt for an old exercise book again!


Folders Help to Organise Online Learning

The lockdown is still fresh in our minds. Most of us couldn’t go to school anymore. We were stuck at home with Google Classrooms and Zoom and “please turn your camera on”. That was a new normal we had to get used to.

It wasn’t that long ago, right? So, most of the current students in this country had some of the most important years of learning stuck behind a screen. They still need that info that they learnt. It could help them to do well in their exams. It’s important that they can access it all together.

Then there are the people who still have a blended learning approach to school. They might go to an online school. Maybe they go to school in person, but they have a tutor online! Perhaps they’re even signed up to this very site, where they can take courses and quizzes, read Tips and Tricks articles, and use the forums to help boost their grades.

I am sure that, if you are reading this in 2022, you are one of these students. Whether you’ve just been thrown back into school and expected to adapt, or you still have to juggle the online with the in-person, you need help to put your work together. You need to be able to print out old work and keep it with what you’re doing now.

As far as I know, it’s not so easy to print a piece of work straight into your exercise book. So, we’re stuck with that whole glue issue again. I promise you: the puns are not intentional.

That’s why folders are so great. You just print and hole punch. No need for pesky glue! Much less time wasted!

It’s Easier to Catch Up on Missed Work

Most students miss days of school throughout the year. There are plenty of reasons why you might. First of all, you could get sick. That’s the most obvious one. However, there are also clubs, music lessons and other responsibilities that might snatch you out of class. If you’re lucky enough to work as a footballer or actor, you might have to miss some days for your job.

Whatever your reason, you might have to catch up on your work at some point. You might ask your friend to take notes from their book. A teacher might give you some sheets or tasks to help you stay on track with your studies. Or, you might just pick up the book all on your own and work through it.

However, that could mean that your work isn’t in order anymore. Say you’ve missed school and it takes you a few days to ask your friend or teacher for the work. Well, you might have a class or two in the meantime. That will throw off the order of your books.

In any good scheme of work, one lesson builds on the next. So, skipping lessons really matters. It means that your work might not make sense to you when you go back to it. Exercise books aren’t designed for you to go back and add stuff later on. So, you’ll either have to miss a page (and not be sure if it’s the right amount of space for your missed work), or you’ll just have to accept the fact that your book isn’t in order anymore.

With a folder, you don’t have that problem. Just get some more paper and add it where you need to.


For the Teachers Out There, Marking is Much Easier With Folders!

I hate having to take a stack of books home to mark. Even moving a stack of books to the staff room sucks! Books are awkward. They fall out of my hands all the time. It’s just no fun.

What happens if I forget to bring the books in after marking? Well, my students have to write on paper. Then they have more stuff to stick in when they get the books back. The worst part of that? Well, it’s all my fault! They didn’t need to waste another piece of paper. It was all on my bad memory.

What about if you don’t let students take their books home at all? Well, first of all, how are they supposed to revise for tests? Secondly, they have to do even more sticking in when they have homework. It’s just a nightmare!

Marking sheets of paper is so much better for my mental health. If I forget to bring the work in, students can still carry on as normal in class. They just have to wait for the next lesson to see how they did. It’s less awkward to carry around. You can’t accidentally stick someone else’s work into a book (I’m traumatised).

Plus, it doesn’t look like a whole mountain you have to overcome. I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to procrastinate when the job looks huge. Then, I have way more work to do! It’s a vicious cycle!

Since I switched to folders in tutoring, my life has been a lot easier. I got myself a pack of paper document wallets so that I could store the work by class. The pile is small, and I’m much happier. Just keep a stapler on hand in case students have more than one sheet. You’ll thank me later!

It’s Easy to File Shani’s Tutoring Worksheets in a Folder

I make a lot of worksheets for Shani’s Tutoring. You can find word searches, crosswords, workbooks, note organisers and much, much more! They’re great for helping you to revise and boost your grades. However, when it comes to sticking them into books, it can be a bit of a struggle.

Let’s be clear: it is not a good idea to leave loose sheets lying around. They’re no good if you just place them in your books and hope for the best, either. They can fly out. You might lose them. It’s much easier for them to get ripped. Then, you’re stuck re-printing, re-writing and re-sticking. It’s a waste of time and paper. Yuck.

With a folder, all you need to do is hole-punch the worksheets into your book. Then, you can look back at them whenever you want to! Your worksheets will look nice and fresh, as long as you make sure not to spill your drink or let your dog get at them.

On top of that, I highly recommend that you keep your Shani’s Tutoring worksheets with the rest of your schoolwork. It doesn’t make sense to keep them apart! After all, I make my resources to supplement your schoolwork, not to be something completely separate. So, slot my worksheets into your schoolwork where they make sense. That way, when you revise, you will find it easier to make sense of all your work.

This is going to be much easier to do if you have a folder. You can choose where the worksheets will fit and slot them in nice and easy. If you have a book, you don’t even know if your teacher will be happy for you to stick in other work! They won’t mind putting new stuff in a folder.


Tips for Folder Organisation

So, I’ve given you plenty of reasons why folders are great. I’m sure you’re convinced by now, and you’re ready to make the switch (if you can). Awesome! I’m so excited for you! Folders are great for English, and they will make your life so much easier in the long run. It’s really worth it – especially for your GCSEs! If you’re doing your A-levels, please get yourself a folder. This isn’t just a recommendation. I’m practically begging. Seriously.

But how do you organise a folder? It’s not the same as a book, after all. It might take you a little more thought and care to get it looking amazing. The results are worth it, though.

When you start an exercise book, all you need to do is write a few things on the front: name, subject, class teacher, year group. Then, you’re ready to go. Open to the first page and start (or make a table of contents).

With a folder, you have your details on the side. That’s easy enough. Of course, you can just start writing there and then. However, the best folders have dividers and some other bits and pieces in them. The more effort you put into your folder, the better it will look. So, it’s all on you!

Here are some of my top tips to keep your work looking amazing.

Use the Same Folder for Your Whole GCSE (or A-Level)

When it comes to school, it is very easy to treat each year like it’s all on its own. We come to school in September, and it’s a new year, right? New year, new book, new us and some new teachers, too. You throw your old workbooks to the back of some room and forget all about them. You won’t need to look at them again, right?

Well, your schoolwork all builds on what you’ve done before. That means it’s always a bad idea to lose your past stuff no matter what year you’re in. However, it’s a disaster when you get to your GCSEs and A-levels. You will need to keep everything you do.

There is nothing worse than when students get rid of all their year 10 work before they finish their GCSEs. Then, they realise that they actually do need all that An Inspector Calls work from last year. They’ll have to find where they put all that work or do without. If they have the time, they might write it all up again. It is a busy year, though.

When you are getting your folder ready, bear in mind that you will be using it for your whole study period. Make a folder for a course, not a school year. Separate your work by the text you’re studying to make your life a little easier. That will save you a lot of time and effort. Plus, you can come back and add stuff at any time.


Use Folder Dividers

Folder dividers are the most important way to organise your work. They will make your life so much easier and help you to see how your course is separated.

Just now, I recommended that you split your folder into different sections. Dividers will help you with this massively! You can have one divider per topic or text. For example:

  • Jekyll and Hyde
  • An Inspector Calls
  • Macbeth
  • Poetry
  • Language Paper 1
  • Language Paper 2
  • Creative Writing
  • Persuasive Writing

Of course, your texts will probably be different. However, the principle is the same! Just swap the first three texts for whichever ones you’re doing and you’ll be just fine.

If you like to have a contents page in your exercise book, folder dividers will be your best friend! You get to split the work up into small, manageable categories. In fact, you can even go further than that! Try adding a subject-specific table of contents for each divider page. When it comes to revision, you’ll know exactly where everything is.

I personally recommend that you get a pack of dividers that have 10 tabs. Sure, I’ve only mentioned 8 sections above. However, you might want to have extra space for SPaG and past papers. It’s all up to you and what you need!

Amazon does a great pack of affordable coloured folder dividers. If you want something that will last you a longer, you might have to fork out a little more money. In which case, try this 10-pack of plastic dividers. They’re waterproof and you can use them again and again!

Organise Your Content By Date to See Progress

When you start using a folder, you might feel a little confused about where you should put new work. Do you put it in front of the old work you did? At the back? Can you just put your work somewhere in the middle?

Well, it’s up to you. However, I have my personal recommendation: put new work behind previous work. That’s what you do in your exercise book. You finish one piece of work and then turn to the next page to continue. So, you can use folders in the same way!

It’s a good idea because it helps you to see progress. You can see where you were at the beginning of the year and how you have improved as you attend your classes and take feedback from your teachers.

Teachers love books for this reason. They give in books to Ofsted and other boards that check how well students are doing. It is a teacher’s goal to make sure that students can do better work at the end of the year than they could at the beginning. Your book is a record of how you’ve improved.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do the same thing with folders, though! It’s just about making sure that you write the date on your piece of paper and file it behind previous work. That way, you can hand your book in when your teacher needs it and they can see if you need some more help.


Make Sure Your Hole Punch Has a Guide

I hate it when students’ folders are full of uneven pages. It’s almost as horrible to me as seeing an exercise book with sheets sticking out. It just looks messy! I hate it, and I know that many teachers would agree with me.

So many students buy a hole punch that doesn’t have a guide on it. So, when they punch holes into their paper, it’s all just guesswork. Then, the pages don’t match. Some sheets of paper are high. Others are low. What a nightmare.

Folders can look very neat because they are less likely to get tattered and damaged in your bag. Unlike books, they are sturdier and offer paper more protection. However, if your pages are all over the place, the neatness only goes so far.

So, please make sure that you get yourself a hole punch with a guide on it. That will be a little, straight stick that you can pull out of the hole punch. You line that up to A4 (or whatever size paper you are using) and line your paper up so that the bottom is resting against the straight edge of that stick. If you use that every time, all your paper will have holes punched at the same place.

If you can’t change your hole punch right now, don’t worry! There is a way for you to still keep your sheets straight. Just fold your sheet in half, making a small crease on the left-hand side. Then, line the crease up with the arrow that’s in the middle of your hole punch. It’s there! I promise!

Some schools are lucky enough to have really fancy hole punches with fancy guides. Those tend to be heavy-duty, which means they can punch holes in many sheets at once. Lucky for them, eh?

Get a Pack of Hole Reinforcers

Sometimes, the holes will rip. You might pull too hard on your folder. It could just happen over time. Either way, you will be a victim of the dreaded ripped hole at some point.

So, how do you fix that? Do you have to copy out your work again? Do you have to go to the photocopier? No! The solution is much easier than that!

You just need a pack of hole reinforcers. They are little rings that you put around the hole to make it stronger or fix a rip. You can get them in plain white or in lots of different colours. You can even find some with patterns on them!

This is one of the few times where you can actually stick a plaster on something to solve a problem. Or, if you’re like me, you could just reinforce all your pages before they rip. Stick those rings down before the holes cause you any problems. If you’re particularly organised, you might even want to match the colour of the ring to the topic or type of task. That’s up to you, though!

Hole Punch Worksheets ASAP

Any time you get a piece of paper in class, there is a risk that it will get lost. It doesn’t matter if you have books or folders. It just might disappear! You could put the sheet in your bag, promising yourself that you’ll hole punch or glue it later. For most of us, though, we will probably forget.

So, make sure that you hole punch sheets as soon as you get them. Carry around a small hole punch, if you can! Loads of the small ones have the guide I was talking about! It won’t just stop you from losing the sheets, either. It will also help you to make sure that you don’t mix work from different subjects.

Some teachers are very kind. They might just make the holes for you! That will mean that you can put them straight into your folder. These are probably the same teachers who trim worksheets so that you don’t have to cut them. We don’t all have the time for that, though.

The good news is that hole punching is always much quicker than sticking sheets in. You just have to line the sheet up with your guide and push the hole punch down. No more lining up a sheet so that it doesn’t go wonky on the page. No more “my glue ran out”. Your teacher definitely doesn’t have to worry about finding new glue sticks each term, either!

Just put them in your folder as soon as you can. It will make revision much easier for you!


Add Some Extra Storage For When You Can’t Hole Punch

Let’s face it, though. Sometimes you won’t be able to hole punch all your work straight away. That might be because you forgot your hole punch at home. It could be that you need a stronger tool to get through a big booklet. Or, it might be that your teacher usually makes the holes for you and forgot. When you can’t hole punch straight away, you need somewhere to store your work.

No one likes loose sheets flying around, right? They are way too easy to lose. Even if you don’t lose them, there’s very little you can do to stop another book from coming along and forcing them deep down in your bag. Then, when you take them out again, they look like a crumpled mess! If you aren’t sticking work into your books, this is much more likely to happen, right?

Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s plenty that you can do to prevent this from happening.

The cheapest way to make this work is to grab some punched pockets. You might know them by some other name: plastic wallets, polly pockets or something else. Either way, you can keep a few at the back of your folder and use them when you need.

Then, you have the plastic envelope-style wallets. Grab some sticky labels and designate one per subject. They can be a lovely way to store your work and keep your bag light.

If you want a method that combines the punched pockets with the wallets, they do exist! In fact, they are my favourite way to store my stuff. Keep your set text in there along with any loose sheets to keep all your work together. Then, just pop it at the front of your folder. Sorted!

If You Can’t Carry a Lever Arch Around, Keep a Small Ringbinder With You

I can talk all day about why lever arch folders are better than books. However, they do have their problems, too! They’re big. They can get pretty heavy. To be honest, they can sometimes be quite a nightmare to fit into your bag!

By the time you get to study leave in year 11, you will (or, at least, you should) have enough work for you to need a lever arch. However, they aren’t the most practical thing to carry around, are they? You’re going to need to find a way to get your work to and from home without adding a tonne to your bag’s weight. That’s where ring binders come in.

Ring binder folders are a little different from the lever arches. You have to pull the rings apart for yourself, for one. However, the great thing about them is that they tend to be quite thin! That makes them perfect for carrying around in your bag!

You can get ring binders that are rigid and don’t move a whole lot. They have a glossy board cover that stays in place. That means that they can offer quite a bit of protection to your work.

Or, you can get some that are bendy. These ones are easier to fit into your bag because you can move them around your other books a little.

If you really don’t like the idea of pulling rings apart with your bare hands, don’t worry. There are thinner lever arches out there.

Just make sure that you have a lever arch at home for all your main work. Then, once a half term or so, you can take a little time to transfer your work from the lever arch to the ring binder. You’ll thank me later.


Schedule In an Organisation Day

I wish I could say that I’m an organised person 100% of the time. I’d be lying to you if I did, though.

It can be quite difficult to stay on top of your organisation when you have so many other things to do! Classes, homework, exams… it all adds up. For us teachers, too. Trust me.

So, don’t beat yourself up if your folder gets a little out of hand every now and then. That’s absolutely natural. Don’t you worry! It’s fine to let your folder organisation slip every once in a while. You just have to make sure you make time to sort it all out again.

Some teachers give students time (in form or in class) to stick in all their sheets every now and then. Why not give yourself a similar time slot to keep your folder looking great? It should only take an hour or two. You can split it up into smaller sessions if you need to.

Schedule a day at the end of each half term. Move all your work from your ring binder to your lever arch. Make sure any damaged holes are reinforced. Check that the sheets are in the right place. Sort out your dividers. Do everything you need to do.

When it comes to revision time, you’ll be glad you did. It’s a lot less stressful than having to search high and low for that quote sheet your teacher gave you a year ago! Or, stressing about organisation every lesson, for that matter!

If You Don’t Want to Give Up Your Exercise Book, Try These Tips!

What about the people who really don’t want to give up their exercise books? I know you’re out there!

How can you keep your book and make sure it looks neat and tidy? How do you avoid all that sticking? Is there a way to have both folders and books?

Those are all really good questions. There are absolutely answers for all of them! Don’t you worry!

The good thing about stationery is that it’s flexible. You can use it however you like to suit any lifestyle, school setting or learning preference. You just need to have a little bit of patience and some extra creativity lying around. It will help you loads.

Here are some of my suggestions on what you can do if you don’t want to ditch the book.

Hole Punch the Book and Feed Treasury Tags Through It

When I was at school, my science teachers hole punched my whole exercise book. Then, they brought out some treasury tags and told us to put the tags through the nice holes that they had just made. I thought it was a genius idea. I wish all the teachers had thought of it!

That way, you can avoid all the cutting and sticking and wasted paper. You just hole punch a worksheet and put it in between the pages you’re working on. You avoid glue, keep your worksheets in the right place and hold on to your beloved exercise books. It’s a great alternative to folders.

Of course, your school (or you) will need one of those fancy, heavy-duty hole punches I was talking about earlier. You can’t make decent holes in a whole exercise book with a regular hole punch! Those heavy-duty beasts can set you back quite a bit, so it’s understandable why people might not want to hole punch their books.

Then there’s the fact that the worksheets will be sticking out of your book. Your book is A4. The sheets are A4. There is going to be some overhang. They won’t have the same protection that they would if they were in a folder!

That means that the worksheets will be much more prone to getting tattered, torn or discoloured.

As long as you’re ok with hole punching your book and dealing with paper overhang, this is a great method!


Get an Exercise Book Cover

Your books tend to get pretty beaten up in your bag. They get bent corners. Your water bottles crush pages. Plus, there could be spills! A good cover can help you to protect your book from the elements and the contents of your backpack.

There are two main types of covers that I would recommend:

These methods are great if you’re the kind of person who likes to decorate their books with pictures related to the subject.

If I had to choose, though, I would recommend going for the removable book covers. You can reuse them! Swap them over when you get a new book. It will save you a lot of money in the long run. Plus, books with plastic film on them are almost definitely not so easy to recycle.

Keep Your Exercise Book in Your Folder

There is a way to keep both your exercise books and your folders. You can just put your book in your folder and keep both with you. That way, you can make your notes in a book and put all your worksheets in your folder to keep them safe. You don’t have to cut or stick a single thing!

To do this, you can use the hole punched wallet I was talking about a little earlier. Or, you can punch holes in your book and feed it through.

Either way, this is the compromise many of us need. Your teacher will be able to take in a book to mark (if that’s their thing). You will be able to keep your sheets organised and in the right place. Plus, if you forget your book for a day, you won’t need to stick a piece of lined paper over the paper in your book. You just put it in with your worksheets. Much less waste!

I’m sure I have convinced you to move from books to folders, by now. They are just so convenient and allow you to organsie your work in the way that suits you! They are a lot less limiting than books and you don’t have to do all that time-wasting sticking.

If you’re sold, why not send this article to your teacher? Let them see why books suck and what they can do about it. I’ll do my best to convince them of the value of folders. If you have a choice in how you store your work, I suggest making the switch as soon as you can.

Whatever your situation is, I hope your school work goes your way!

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