Nov 30, 2011 in Lifestyle . 0 Comment
Starting to study a few weeks before a test is always the best option. However, with a few other classes, the drama over who took your roommate’s last granola bar, family obligations, the semblance of a social life, and just plain living also demanding your attention, studying can get pushed to the last minute. That is where the art of cramming comes in. Here are the best tips on how to study when you have less than a day.
Know How You Learn
People instinctively know if they learn better when they see something, hear something, or talk it over. If you are a visual learner, reading over your notes should work for you, but if you are an auditory learner, answer questions out loud (but maybe not in the library). And if you learn best when talking things over, find a group of like-learners to study with.
Write Out a Plan
Take a few minutes to write out a to-do list of things you want to cover so you don’t forget anything. This way you allow your mind to focus only on studying. Make sure you divide your time so you have enough time to study for all your tests (which of course are all in the same day or week). In your plan, be sure to include time to get to the location of your test, as well as time for eating and sleeping.
Review What You Didn’t Read or Do
For the readings and assignments you have completed, you will have a good enough idea of the subject to write about in a general sense, and at least touch on the big ideas. Bring yourself up to speed on the topics you haven’t covered before. If you have at least a general knowledge of these topics, you will be able to touch on the ideas in essay questions; enough to sound like you have an idea about the topic.
Review Study Guides, Past Tests, Homework, and Chapter Summaries
For big tests, professors usually choose some questions from the work they have already assigned. This means that past tests and homework will give you a clue about what may be on the test. The questions will be different though, so look at them more for concepts rather than specific questions and answers. Study guides that are prepared specifically for the test are a gold mine. Make sure you know all the answers to the questions on the study guide. If you don’t know what will be on the test, look at the summaries at the end of each chapter. These won’t cover all the information, but it will give you a general idea of the topics and will jog your memory.
Go Off the Grid
It is very likely that all your friends will be in the same boat; trying to quickly cram before a test. But for the friends who have already finished all their tests (the kind who like to waltz by your dorm room with their luggage while laughing), and the family members who want to know when you will come home for vacation, disappear for a few hours and go off the grid. That means powering down your computer (unless you need it), and turning off your cell phone and other electronics. If need be, put up a status update on Facebook and Google+ that you are still alive and will talk to everyone in a few hours. The video of the cat on the skateboard will wait for you to finish the test as well. Also, find a place where you can bunker down and work without hearing your neighbor’s heavy metal ‘study music’.
Eat and Sleep
If it is 4 a.m., your test is at 8 a.m., and you are debating whether or not to just stay up all night, settle the debate right now and go to sleep. A sleep cycle (about two or three hours) will help you feel refreshed and more alert for the test. Stay hydrated with water to keep your brain at its optimum mental function. Also keep your nutrition up; have a banana or an apple before the test. A banana has potassium (an electrolyte) that will help you more than sugar filled sports drinks. An apple has antioxidants that will keep you healthy during those twenty-hour days. Both are also surprisingly filling. Best of all, they are easy to eat as you run to class.
When you are overcome with anxiety you may freeze up, and that will prevent you from doing the best job possible on your exam. Listen to your favorite music before the exam, or write out your worries, to relieve anxiety. When all else fails, help yourself gain a little perspective. Chances are this test has been hyped by your professors, your family, your classmates, and your mind, as “The Most Important Test You Will Ever Take.” Chances are it won’t be. Yes, it is absolutely important to do well. But, it is not so important that you need to make yourself sick and unfocused. You have probably berated yourself enough for not studying earlier, so just go ahead and let go of the worry. Focus on some of your past successes and keep positive.