One of the most inefficient ways to study for a test is to cram the night before. Unfortunately, we have all found ourselves in that situation at one time or another. Exam dates sneak up on you, you had a million other projects due, it was your best friend’s birthday, whatever the reason, you just didn’t have time to study. When you are running on a tight time budget, use these four effective study tips to prepare for your exam.
Chances are if you are cramming for a test, you are also very stressed about the situation. High levels of stress and anxiety will not help you focus while you study and they will certainly not help you on the test. Before you begin studying, take a few moments to take some deep breaths into your belly and let them go slowly. This only takes a few seconds and it will help you recenter on the topic at hand.
2) Out of Order
Review your notes and your texts out of order. Start in the middle of the semester on a main topic. See if you can remember what came before and after. Write out important material that relates. Then, go on to a different spot in your notes. Your exam is not likely to move in exactly the same order as the material you covered in class. However, if you always study it in order, you may not be able to recall it out of order. Studying out of order will stretch your brain to make new connections and engage with the material. It will have to work to recall the topics that came before and after. Working your brain in this way, while you study, will help you have better recall on the exam.
There is a chance you won’t have time to study everything you covered in class. Start with the biggest and most important topics. Abandon exceptionally challenging concepts to perfect concepts that you can absolutely get correct. You can sacrifice a few points to do really well on the majority of the test. If you try to get it all in, but study it all poorly, you could lose almost all of your points. Prioritize what will be the most important and spend your time wisely.
4) Go Away
If you study in your dorm room or apartment, you are much more likely to become distracted. Go to a coffee shop, library, or other quiet corner to study. Turn off your phone and only take what you need to study. A new location will help you stay focused for as long as you need to to get the job done.
The better route would be to study a little bit every day, get plenty of sleep, and show up to your test calm and prepared. When that can’t happen, take deep breaths and do your best with the time you have to study. You can still do very well on an exam even if you had to cram.