Cramming has different views, some say it’s great, others disagree. Personally, I always cram at the last minute, especially for classes I don’t feel are pertinent to life or my career (classes like history or biology). Yes, it’s nice to know that stuff, but it’s not important enough for me to spend hours learning it all. So, I’ve devised a nice, easy way to fit as much info into my brain in a short amount of time long enough to be good for a test.
1. Figure out what you need to know.
This is the most important step. Don’t try to force feed your brain information that isn’t important. If you have a hard time figuring out what your professor will test over, ask someone or go through the book. Most chapters have key facts, a summary, etc. that outlines the most important things.
2. Timing: Give yourself enough.
It’s best not to start at 2 am the night before a 9 am test. Cramming works best the night before, but with a good amount of sleep. A foggy brain doesn’t recall well. Make sure you have enough time to cram, depending on the material, at least a few hours, and enough time to get a decent sleep.
3. Mood: Be in a good one.
If you’re upset, distracted, pissed, whatever, it’s going to affect your cram session. Try to relax, forget about the outside world. Do whatever you need to, even if that means *gasp* going to the library to find yourself a nice, quiet place. Personally, I hate the library. Something about the incredible quiet bothers me. Plus, it always smells like an old lady.
4. Make a plan.
Know how you’re going to go about this. Do you mostly need to learn vocab? Do you need to learn theories? Do you need to know formulas?
For classes where you need to regurgitate definitions, try creating a matching test at Easy Test Maker. It’s free and is easier and cheaper than flashcards. There’s also flashcard software available if you’d rather do that. Either way, this is a great way to memorize.
Most professors have two very possible, one could-be and one completely off choices on multiple choice. By the time you’re in college, you should be very familiar with this format and very good at taking them. So, study important facts, but focus on details. Anything bolded or reiterated in lecture and anything that might be related. Multiple choice is when you’ll be asked who passed the Emancipation Proclamation.
If your professor provides possible essay prompts, definitely take advantage and at least get all the information you’ll need. I don’t recommend actually writing the essay out, just write it in shorthand, get all the info out and how you’re going to answer the question. Read over this a few times afterward and then once again before the test and you should be set.
If you’re not lucky enough to be given the question ahead of time, you’re in for a little more work. Learn the big picture and a few things to fill in the lines. Once you have that down, bullshit is your best friend. Don’t make things up, just surround your facts with fluff.