Okay let’s be real for a second. Most of us have crammed for a test at least once in our lives. Cramming for an exam can make or break your grade. I’ve done my fair share of cramming for tests, so I like to think that I have some pretty effective study tips that will really help elevate your cramming sessions and hopefully raise your grade!
This might sound like it defeats the point of cramming for an exam, but set aside the time and plan accordingly. For example, a good time for me to cram for a class last semester was during the break in between my 8 am and that class. I may have studied that whole previous week, but I am the type of person who still wants to cram the morning of. Having a plan for cramming makes finals week just a little less stressful.
The biggest tip I have for cramming is rewriting out the slides from class. A lot of professors upload their powerpoints after class and I find it really helpful to rewrite them. And if I’m not rewriting the professors slides, I’m rewriting my own typed notes. You absorb more information this way and will retain it better on the test. I find that this is much more effective than just reading notes I’ve already taken. Typically, I will write out important notes into my notebook, as well as onto notecards.
Depending on how much time you’ve allotted yourself to study, I would recommend some of it be dedicated to testing yourself on what you already know. My favorite way is through written flashcards, because like I said above rewriting helps you remember the information better. Occasionally I’ll use Quizlet, but I like having the physical cards with me. This comes in handy when you’re studying in a public space like on the bus while you’re headed from one side of campus to the other.
DON’T STUDY THE TEXTBOOK
“But Abby what do you mean not study the textbook? I paid over $100 for that thing!!” Okay so yes, studying from the textbook is important, but in terms of cramming the day/night before I advise against it. Instead, rely on notes/slides from your teacher and things they’ve talked about in class. If your professor barely talked about something in class, chances are you won’t be tested on it. There’s no reason to neglect more important chunks of information, so you can absorb useless facts that you won’t need.
Maybe this is just a me thing, but I can’t focus when I’m running on very little sleep. From my experience, it’s better to give up a couple of hours of study time to get some more zzz’s than to wear out your brain the night before the exam. So don’t pound that second five hour energy. Instead, get some sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and maybe ready to get some more cramming in.
Chew Mint Gum
Alright, I don’t know if this really works, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. I heard that eating something minty or chewing mint gum helps with focus and also helps with retrieval cues in your brain! So if you were chewing the same gum while studying, you might be able to remember better if you chew it during the exam. Whatever works, right?
I have some seriously crazy ways of memorizing randoms facts I know I’ll need for an exam. For one of my exams last year, I memorized facts about Ancient Greece by comparing Gods/Goddesses to characters from The Office. I legit got an A in that class thanks in part to that weird trick. So comparing what you’re studying to something you really like is a great way of engaging with the subject matter. Other memorization techniques I use pretty frequently are acronyms and mnemonic devices.
I hope these tips help you the next time you need to study for an exam. And if you do have finals coming up – good luck and start studying now so you don’t have to cram!!