How to properly cram before your test

I am going to share with you all how I cram before an exam. Cramming for quizzes is the same method, but that it is done the night before and not a week before. My cramming for exams is ALWAYS going to start 1 week (okay, maybe 5 days before, but close enough) before test day, and here’s how it works!

RULES TO STICK BY AND CAUTIONS TO BE AWARE OF:

  1. IGNORE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. You only have 1 week or less for that exam? Do not take any more commitments! I usually do because I’m super nuts and psycho, but I highly do not recommend this. You’ll regret it very much. Your focus needs to be on the exam.
  2. GOT MORE THAN 1 EXAM ON THE DAY OR THE WEEK? PLAN TO MULTIPLY THE HOURS OF STUDYING BY 2 or 3. This is a common issue that arises among taking classes that are not spread apart (for example, someone might plan their schedule out to fit four classes ONLY on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is that smart? Well it’s nice to have MWF, especially if you are a commuter, but those Tuesdays and Thursdays are probably going to be the worst days of the week for literally every week until the semester is over (and this can totally be worth it if you need those huge time gaps to work or study for an exam like the MCAT, but again, not my case). Anyway, you’ll just have to repeat the steps I’m going to mention by each exam you are preparing for.
  3. TAKE PRODUCTIVE BREAKS. These include eating food, using the restroom and/or stretching and taking deep breaths. Beyond that, nothing is productive.
  4. LIMIT CHECKING EMAIL TO 2X/DAY. I can’t be away from email because it piles up so quickly and I have to respond to a million people, but when time is crucial and I really have to buckle down, I don’t even think about what I need to do. I just do it.

THE GAME PLAN:

  1. PULL OUT YOUR CALENDAR AND MAKE THAT STUDY SCHEDULE. I don’t know what I would do without Google Calendar and my phone. It keeps my on track and makes me feel good when I complete tasks or get through certain things during my day (I delete it after so that I feel accomplished).
  2. STUDY SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN. Each day should be focused on a topic. While it’s a goal to cover everything each day, it’s way too much for your brain. So, for example, if you have exams every five weeks (like anatomy and physiology), your first day should be lectures from the first week, the second day should be lecture from the second week, etc. You will go over all of your notes and slides / lecture material by reading it out loud, especially with someone in your class if possible (so helpful). Review is always number one.
  3. PAST EXAMS. More likely than not, someone has a past exam that you can either find online or through academic centers / upperclassmen. I hope you got these prior to the semester, but it’s never too late to look around! If there’s 8 exams available, each day take 2 exams by yourself.
  4. THAT’S BASICALLY IT. You’d think I’d have some crazy magical way of doing it, but not really. This method is so straightforward, but the most important thing is during your studying that you review what you do not know (and if that’s everything, you better make flash cards or say it 100 times to yourself until it’s in your brain…draw if you have to!). Your confidence should boost near the end of the cramming week, assuming you really devoted the hours to go in the order that I explained. Listen to lecture capture if you have that for your classes. Rewrite your notes (waste of time after awhile, but eh).
  5. OKAY, ALMOST FORGOT. If the instructor of the class posted a study guide, DO THAT FIRST! That’s the single best source to study from, for obvious reasons. I don’t think I ever got a study guide from an instructor that was unhelpful. They didn’t make that to throw you off. That’d be kind of stupid (and please report it if you believe so because that’s not fair). They made it to help you, so use it to your advantage.

I hope this helps anyone who has their exams coming up. Papers are a different realm, but basically I recommend the same time frame. The writing center has openings so please make appointments there! You can do online appointments if you can’t go in person, and if a day is filled, you can drop in or sign up to receive texts when an opening arises.

Spring break in a few days! MCAT too. EEP! xD

Picutre of author

About Milie Fang, Biological Sciences / Pre-medicine

I am a senior and an acclaimed workaholic. While I like to keep busy academically, I really enjoy the simple pleasures of hanging out with friends and family, playing video games, or listening to music. When life seems to go well, allergies and eczema like to butt in and make me miserable. I hope to go into medicine so that I can have a better understanding of skin and the immune system to help myself, and to also help others facing the same problems I have faced since I was three.

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