Let’s face it, we’ve all been in the situation where it’s a few nights before an exam and you haven’t studied. It’s a sudden panic to try and cram in as much information as you can before the big moment. You’re stressing out, finding it hard to concentrate and you’re dreading walking into the exam room.
But do not fear! Here are our top tips to get your cram on at the last minute:
Prioritise Your Study
You don’t want to be wasting your time re-studying the things you already know. It’s an easy habit to fall into, because the information is familiar and you feel more comfortable studying it, but it’s not an effective use of your time.
Instead, figure out what you need to study the MOST. Write down a list of the topics you need to cover and in how much detail you need to cover them. This will help you visualise what you need to do and how you can best manage your time between now and the exam.
Personally, flash cards got me through the HSC. I wouldn’t have been able to remember as much as I did without them.
Write down small summaries of different topics on a card, and write a brief, yet memory-jogging title on the back. Once you’ve done that for each topic or area you’re trying to study, flip them all over, shuffle them around, and start testing yourself.
My favourite way to test myself was similar to how I used to learn to spell words when I was younger. First, read the notes. Then cover the notes and read it out loud. Check the notes to see if you got it right, and then put that flash card to the back of the pile. Do that whole process with each individual flash card (it sounds daunting, but it’s actually very quick).
Eventually, you’ll be able to read the notes out loud without having to look at them. Use the titles as points of reference for your memory, giving you a small phrase to remind you of what you need to remember.
Rhythm and Rhyme
This one is for the musical among you. Get your summary notes, put on your favourite song, and start replacing the lyrics with your notes.
Or, instead of replacing lyrics, make up your own rhythm. Rap your notes, or sing them, whatever works for you.
This creates easy links in your memory between the rhythm of the song and your notes, allowing you to easily soak up the boring information and recall it in the exam.
Eliminate All Distractions
This should be a no-brainer, but almost everybody I’ve spoken to seems to ignore it.
Put down the controller, put your phone in another room and close the Netflix tab that’s just sitting there, tempting you.
You don’t have time to sit around procrastinating. If you eliminate distractions for the next couple of days, you can reward yourself when the exam is over.
Obviously, it’s important to take 5-10 minute breaks from studying every now and then, but DO NOT start another episode of that new show you’re binge watching.
At some point during your study, you’re probably going to start questioning whether or not it’s all worth it. The short answer is, YES, it is worth it. Don’t let yourself fall victim to pessimism. This just makes you lose motivation, which makes it much, much harder to achieve effective study.
Skip the Textbook
Don’t bother trying to soak in ten chapters worth of content straight from the textbook. Chances are, your teacher has all of the in-class PowerPoint presentations, or the summary notes you made as a class. Shoot them a quick email, or ask them at school. Your teachers are here to help you, so by actively seeking their help, there’s a good chance they’ll give you a hand.
Or, if you’ve got your own summary notes, use them. Start summarising those notes, and using them for things like flash cards or your ‘study song.’
Get Some Decent Sleep
The absolute worst thing to do when studying is not sleep. When you skip sleep, you lose focus, you can’t retain information, and you just feel awful in general. Aim to be in bed at a reasonable hour, and if you still have a ton of study to do, wake up early in the morning and get it done. Don’t succumb to the temptation of a coffee or an energy drink to keep you up until all hours (try to avoid stimulants like caffeine after 2pm, it works wonders when it comes to sleeping).
Don’t Always Leave It Late
While these study tips may be good for last-minute study, they can also work wonders for normal study during the year. Don’t use them as an excuse to leave studying until the last minute every time. Trust me, it’s not worth it. That extra episode or game can wait.