Ideally, you will review your notes regularly so you will never get into a situation where you actually have to cram for a test. With the exception of the most responsible students, however, most people will end up cramming for at least one test or exam in their life. These cramming tips can help you prepare quickly for a test, but you shouldn’t make studying at the last minute a habit. In other words, if you have to cram, try to learn from the experience so you can be better prepared when your next test day arrives. If you find yourself in a situation in which you only have a few hours to study, however…
- Be realistic: Before you begin your cramming session, it’s important to be honest with yourself. You are simply not going to be able to learn all of the information that the instructor covered in class over the past several weeks or months. You shouldn’t expect to know everything by the time you take the test, and you probably shouldn’t expect an impressive grade. Once you accept this, you can focus on learning what you can in the time you have available.
- Try to anticipate what material will be worth the most on the test: If you know that the test will contain an essay question worth a substantial portion of your grade, try to anticipate what this question might be. If you accurately predict what material will be worth the most and concentrate on it, you can maximize your grade.
- Focus on main points: When you’re reviewing material for an upcoming test, try to focus on the main points. You won’t have time to memorize examples, dates, statistics, and other minor facts if you only have a few hours, but possessing a basic understanding of a number of topics will still earn you points on the test.
- Don’t try to memorize information word for word: Trying to memorize your notes and/or passages from your textbook will only lead to frustration. Instead of trying to recite everything about a topic word for word, just commit a few key points and terms to memory.
- Don’t waste time reading what you won’t have time to study: If you have 50 pages of notes, it’s much better to thoroughly review 10 of them than to spend the same amount of time reading all of them. Just reading something once typically won’t be enough to commit it to memory so it’s quite frankly a waste of time.