In the best of all possible worlds, we would not have to cram for tests. We would start studying way in advance. We would not get distracted. We would not go to that concert two days before. We would not be cramming the night before the exam. However, in real life, students often find themselves with far too much studying left to do the night before the big exam. While this circumstance is not ideal, there are still certain things you can do to help get a good grade on the test. Here are some tips that should not be used too frequently (or they might have detrimental effects on your health), but will help you cram for an exam when you’re really in a crunch.
First, go somewhere you can concentrate. If you’re cramming, there’s no margin of error for half-hearted studying. This is time to buckle down seriously and absorb as much material quickly as possible. You need to be somewhere quiet without distractions. Or, if this is not possible, at least obtain some headphones and do whatever it takes so you will not be distracted or sidetracked.
Get out your highlighter. Flashcards are generally an effective study method for many students, but the night before the exam, there may not be time for creating them and then using them. A quicker method for absorbing info is to read the text and highlight the key terms and most important phrases (only if you own the textbook, of course!). The highlighting helps organize information in your brain as you read, and also allows for you to skim through again quickly right before the test to review the key terms.
Bust out some caffeine. You need to be fully alert if you’re going to be up late, or maybe even pulling an all-nighter. Make yourself a cup of coffee or strong tea. If you know you don’t have adverse reactions, maybe even pull out one of those energy drinks. Energy drinks have very high levels of caffeine and should not be used regularly, but if this is a rare cram session, an energy drink may be justified.
Fuel up. When you start to get fatigued, grab a cereal bar or your favorite snack. Something with a little sugar will often help jolt your brain to peak performance level. You might even bring a candy bar or two for right before the exam the next morning for a last-minute sugar fix.
Chew some gum. Along the same lines of the last tip, but chewing gum will increase saliva production and also stimulate your mind to peak performance level. While everyone is different, many people find that chewing gum helps them concentrate.
Try to squeeze a cat nap in. You might be cramming, but it will be beneficial to squeeze a couple hours of sleep in, or even an hour, sometime during the night. The short nap will refresh you and make you more alert for the rest of the study session and the test. Consider taking a nap near morning so you’re alert for the test.
Well, good luck and happy studying!