Effective ways to cram for an exam!
There are times when an exam completely slips off your mind and you proceed to the next best thing which is cramming. Even the smartest ones in class cram and finish with flying colours! And it’s partly due to cramming methods they use you might not know about.
Most people ‘cram’ by skimming and scanning through their notes but little do they know there are various and more effective ways to cram effectively. So if you’re interested to know more about it, REET Study Portal has created a list of effective cramming methods below:
- Prepare everything you need
If you’re cramping the night before the exam, start out by preparing everything you need. Depending on the subject, set out essential materials and notes you mostly use for that specific subject. For instance, when you’re studying for a math exam, set out recent notes, a calculator, your math book, a list of formulas and so on. But apart from that here’s a list of everything you need to make cramming a little less of a hassle and a little bit easier:
- Lamp – To make studying more easier at night and to prevent eye strain.
- Recent notes – Set out recent notes you had tackled before the exam.
- Exam outline – Of course know what the exam covers to know what topics to focus more on.
- Essential materials – Prep anything the subject requires you to have. For instance, a pair of goggles for the lab, a scientific calculator for statistics, a list of chemistry formulas and so on.
- Writing materials – To efficiently cram you need to write materials to list down topics, formulas and so on. Prepare 1 pencil, an eraser, a pen and a sharpener.
- Books and handouts – To grasp everything you need for the exam you’ll need to have books and handouts on hand to have reliable sources of information.
- Notebook or notepad – These are essential if you plan on making yourself a brief reviewer for the exam. This is also a convenient way to review while waiting for the exam to start.
- Stay focused
Using the remaining time you have left to focus on studying is an excellent approach to cram. A great way to make this possible is by putting your phone on silent, turning off the television, staying in a quiet and isolated area and even getting rid of anything that might distract you.
Focus is an essential thing you need when it comes to grasping and trying to understand a topic. So whether you’re studying the night before or on the way to school, always try to keep your remaining time focused on studying.
- Set a timer
Finding a steady pace is important when cramming. Overworking will make you sleepy and tired during the exam and can potentially affect your performance. Try doing a 50/10 split when cramming, this entails 50 minutes of studying and 10 minutes to do whatever you want.
May it be scrolling through social media, taking a nap, snacking and even talking with friends and family. After your 10-minute break, get back to studying. Setting a timer will enable you to maintain a routine.
- Keep your eye on important key points
When cramping you will not have the luxury of time to scoop up all the details of a subject. What you can do is to focus on the main idea of a topic, particularly important key points since they are the most likely to appear on the test.
So start by looking for titles, names of important persons, dates, formulas, important terms and explanations of major concepts then filter out anything else. This will still give you a general idea of the topic, making it easy for you to take on essays.
- Have your own studying style
Each and everyone has their own way of studying. Some might listen to music, snack, lay down while others might prefer to do it in a quiet place, at night or even in a busy area. So to effectively understand a topic fast, you have to establish your own studying style, the one that best works for you. You’ll have completed 80% of your task if you just make the guide yourself.
- Focus more on sections you don’t know much about
Another way to cram in topics effectively is by skipping over ideas you already know. So when cramming, concentrate on the material that you’re having trouble grasping. And if you’re not sure what topics or sections you’re weak at, make a fast practice exam.
Practice tests are an excellent approach to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you need to study before your exam is crucial. You can make the most of the short time you have left to study by focusing your cram session on subjects you don’t understand.
- Get some sleep
Cramming doesn’t entail you staying up all night and if anything you should get more sleep than usual. This will give your brain more time to rest and will make remembering topics easier and clearer the next day. Once you’ve tackled all sections, get some sleep and try not to over-stress about the exam. This is something most people take for granted but it is actually one of the most effective methods on the list.
- Fuel up before the exam!
On the morning of the test, fuel up your brains by having a healthy breakfast. Keeping your nerves calm and your brain active is easier when you eat healthy food. Remember, don’t skip breakfast since this can lead to ineffective brain activity where your mind concentrates on eating that might cause you headaches, nausea and even blocking your thoughts. So before leaving the house, eat breakfast and allow enough time to go through your reviewer.
- Repetition is key
One of the most effective studying techniques is repetition. So if you’re trying to memorise formulas, names, dates, places and so on, try repeating them from time to time. This can stick knowledge into your mind like superglue so repeat details and important things aloud until you’re confident in your ability to recall the topic.
- Try the gum method
The gum method is where you eat the same type of gum while studying and taking the exam. This has something to do with interlinking for the mind. For example, the nostalgic memories you recall when smelling a type of perfume or hearing a specific sound brings back a memory.
This also works with studying by linking the flavour of the gum with information you’ve learned during. For instance, you munched on a strawberry flavoured gum while memorising formulas, eating the same gum during the test will bring the formulas back to memory. This is a simple trick you can try out, it may not work for everyone, but it has proven to be effective in many cases.
How to avoid cramming
Knowing how to cram effectively will come in handy on days you forget to prepare for an upcoming exam. But cramming, however, is something you have to avoid since it’s only useful for exams but not for effective learning. So to prevent having to cram, here are some tips you can follow to avoid it:
- Always be aware of class announcements
Sometimes people doze off or space out in class and might miss out on important announcements that include quiz dates, topics and so on. So to prevent having to cram on your next upcoming exam, listen to announcements done at the end of the class or try asking classmates. Knowing ahead of time will give you more time to prepare for the quiz.
- Keep a planner
A planner is a great way to stay organised, especially when it comes to dates. This will help you remember important events you might forget in time. Scanning through it from time to time will remind you of upcoming quizzes and exams you have to prepare for. So if you’re someone who forgets easily, try keeping a planner to keep track of important events. And every time the exam date is announced, list down all important information such as its date, the coverage and so on.
- Cut of distractions
Another way to avoid cramming is by eliminating anything that might cause distractions when studying. It’s easy to get distracted especially if you’re studying something you don’t necessarily like. But that’s the time you need to focus more since you’re trying to understand and grasp topics you find difficult. So try setting your phone silent, avoid watching television and so on.
- Avoid procrastinating
For many students, getting started is the most difficult part when studying. But don’t wait until the last minute to do so since this will lessen your remaining time to study. Encourage yourself to begin doing something, even if it’s tiny, as soon as possible. Once you begin it gets much easier for you to keep going.