The Ultimate Guide on How to Cram for an Exam

Hey slacker, you’re not alone in this as we have all been there. At times, you’ll start out the term full of energy and determination. You have lots of motivation. You promise yourself and anyone who cares to listen that this time round, things are going to be different- you’ll attend all lectures, handle all assignments on time, oh and of course participate in all academic activities without fail.

How to Cram for an Exam

Then problems get in your way- sleep, parties, those things called extracurricular activities- and before you realize, you’re already way behind others. In this case, the more you promise yourself that things are going to change, the more you begin falling more and more behind. Eventually, the final week becomes a reality and you’re left with no option but to face tons of pages of unread material. Lecture notes and uncountable problems now stand between you and good grades. Does this ring true of you?

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Before you succumb to full-blown panic, this article is here to bring you hope. In real terms, you can creatively come up with effective tactics and approaches on how to cram for an exam.

Studying hard through cramming can actually help you pull of better grades just like you fellows who did everything diligently. You could also be pleasantly surprised to perform better than everyone in your class! So, how do you do it? Well, keep reading.

Here is How to Cram for an Exam

Take Notes

Have you been too busy to get time to make notes? While studying for an examination with a few or no notes won’t guarantee you an impressive grade, it can effectively place you away from bad college grades such as Ds and Fs. The first step has to be making small notes because after all, you can’t read what you don’t have.

That being said, make some good notes the night before the examination. This is especially useful if you don’t have enough time to adequately study for a test. To make good notes, you may want to develop note-taking skills which will go a long way to help you get the most out of the night before your exams.

Figure out the areas that you may want to study. Before that, place the course outline on your study table and see how you can go about each topic. You will be at a better position to study well if you attend review sessions that your instructors hold before exams. Note down the topics that your tutor thinks are important. Since you’re just about to begin cramming, you may not have time to go ask many questions.

If you don’t have notes, request for a copy of lecture notes from your friend who attended all classes. You see, your teacher will, without a doubt, set the exam based on the lecture notes, and specifically what they taught rather than what is in the course outline. Do you get the idea? Well, cover only what’s important.

Gather Everything Else You Need to Start Cramming

Once you have all your lecture notes with you, make sure to gather other materials that you’ll need for your cramming session. It’s fundamental. We’re talking about getting a pen, a pencil and a notepad, and you’ll be good to go. You don’t much else. Those items are just enough to help you in your cramming session.

Avoid Procrastination

When an exam is looming, the best justice you can do yourself is to resist the temptation to procrastinate. This also applies to handling every other life issue that’s at its last stage.

You see, you’ve to get the best out of a cramming session. That’s the only way out. As such, you need to be focused only on what you need. Checking into social media and doing some laundry must stay away from your schedule.

Switch off your phone and place it inside the drawer. If need be, disconnect your laptop from the internet, unless you want to use online resources, in which case you should consider uninstalling social media applications (at least if you don’t have the willpower to resist social media addiction). Find a suitable study zone that is comfortable and noise-free. If you want to study inside your room, place a ‘’Do not disturb’’ signage on the door. Knuckle down and start cramming.

Take a Look at Past Papers

While it is not a foolproof technique, looking over past papers can help you figure out which topics to prioritize. Also, make sure to cram all other topics that come up, if you can. But be warned against relying upon this method alone, because as we all know, possibilities are just endless when it comes to exams. Taking a look at past papers can give you a hint of the pattern that instructors use to set tests. Truth be told, some questions keep recurring year in year out, so it would be a good bet to think that such questions might come up again. It’s also helpful to touch on topics that haven’t come up recently, just in case they appear this year.

Prioritizing the questions that have been recurring can give a good chance to score best grades. Generally, you should try to take note of the characteristic styles of specific questions. We’re talking about the outlook, difficulty level, and such jokes. But remember: this is just a mere guess, though.

Chose What You Need to Study

Star by evaluating the extent of the material you need to cover. Identify the topics that you feel might be in the exam. Also, identify the topics you were good at and the ones you struggled with as well. Who knows? You might be surprised to learn that you’re confident in many topics. This can potentially fix the panic you could be experiencing right now. After that, you can come up with your own mock exam to inspire your confidence. You can do a mock exam while prioritizing the questions in the past papers you have.

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Revise Each Topic Thoroughly

Once you have taken stock of what you need to cover, handle each individual topic separately and adequately. Come up with a list of the major concepts in each of them. Doing this as a diagram can help you to visualize what you need to cover easily. This way, you will quickly circle areas that you’re confident in, and those that you need to assign more time. From there, you can hone your skills, a concept by concept. It’s good to skip grasping detail at least for now, until when you’re left with enough time. You see, for the time being, it’s only good to learn fundamental ideas well. You could be surprised to see ideas flood back the moment you step into the exam room. So, make sure to cram the basics as much as you can. Chances are that you may be able to remember the details you learned during your study sessions. It’s worth it!

Manage Time Well

There is nothing as vital as proper time management when you’re dealing with short deadlines. When exams are fast approaching, you’ve so little time at your disposal, and planning how to use your time is certainly the most crucial thing. Create a schedule or a timetable as quickly as you can. The thing is, it will help you feel in control of everything you do during this time, and it will also ensure that you’ve ample time for every activity. Within the time you have before a test, make sure to allocate time or each of the topics you identified above, while making sure that one item doesn’t consume time for another item. Depending on the difficulty level of each topic, see how long you can assign every item. Remember to stick to your timings because no amount of time can make you understand something that you didn’t learn well previously. If you overspend time on one thing, you may realize that you won’t be left with time for another.

It’s imperative to create a balance between the time you spend handling weaker and stronger subjects; sometimes, you can use a decent amount of time focusing on weaker topics while neglecting stronger ones. In this case, you may end up doing bad in areas you thought you should have performed excellently. How do you balance between topics? Well, spread your time evenly across all topics. This way, you will be able to explore a wide range of topics within the little time you have.

Adjust Your Learning Methods

Knowing how to cram for an exam means that you can’t afford to study using dense books. You see, such materials come with a difficult language that you may find it hard to understand when you’re learning rapidly. That being said, get materials that are written in an easy-to-understand language, maybe a revision book with bullet points if you can. If you have organized notes, then it is also good for you- skim-read through them. Whichever material you use for revision, don’t just stop at reading, sitting back and hoping for the best. No. Find a way to test your understanding of the concepts. This is crucial in helping you keep memory of what you revise.

Work from Past Papers

We’ve already talked about the power of past test papers when it comes to cramming for an exam, right? Well, we also mentioned that they can give you a hint of what to expect- the recurring questions. Now, try working out some questions from those papers but don’t rely solely on them because they won’t prepare you for new questions that may come up, or ones that haven’t been covered recently.

It’s important to try questions from past papers once you have revised enough using other materials.

Join Hands with a Friend

They say that unity is strength. You see, a problem can easily be handled by two or more people than an individual. You get the idea? Now, you may have missed out on valuable concepts because of this reason or another, but then you may have a friend who’s well equipped with knowledge about those concepts. Find a friend who is willing to help you understand, but don’t expect them to necessarily say YES to your request. You know, such critical times have everyone studying and racing against time to achieve the best college grades.

Mind What You Eat

Cramming is a process that requires a lot of thinking, so you may want to grab lots of ‘’brain food’’ to keep you on track. Avoid sugary things and instead go for high-energy foods such as porridge. In real terms, high-energy foods can keep you going for longer periods, and that’s exactly what you want at such a time when you’re racing against time. Besides choosing foods that can release energy slowly, make sure to allow your brain at least 5 minutes of rest to enable you stay focused.

Catch Some Good Sleep

It may be tempting to want to read all night but it’s entirely not a good idea. Staying up the whole night before an exam can cause you to doze off during the test. You could also be shocked to learn that sleep clashes with the flow of ideas. Allow your brain ample time to process and convert what you’ve learned into memorable ideas so that you’ll be able to recall them when the exam finally arrives. You shouldn’t necessarily sleep for the recommended eight hours, but you can do three or four, at least.

how to cram for an exam

Finally, …

There you have it; a complete guide on how to cram for an exam. This guide is a sure great resource to help you get the most out of your cramming sessions. Having read through, you can now come up with a focused and effective cramming session. But then remember, you can read many ideas similar to the ones above, but if you can’t put them into practice, you’ll only be straining your eyes.

Study Team
The Study Team are a collection of enthusiastic and dedicated studiers who love sharing resources, guides and tips on how to make your studying, home learning or education a breeze.