At some point during college you’ll be cramming for a test. It’s not the best way to study, but everyone does it eventually. If you must cram for a test, do it the right way.
Here are some tips to get you through your first cram session.
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. Give yourself enough time.
Cramming works best the night before, but with a good amount of sleep. A foggy brain doesn’t recall well. Plan enough time to cram and enough time to get a decent sleep. Difficult subjects require more cram time.
3. Mood matters.
The Association for Psychological Science says that a good mood allows your brain to think more creatively. Study somewhere free from distractions and irritations, and listen to mood-boosting music.
4. Have a plan.
Before you cram, have a plan. Focus on the cramming the details that you struggle with the most. Do you mostly need to learn vocab? Do you need to learn theories? Do you need to know formulas? Devote the most time to the most important parts.
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.
If your professor provides possible essay prompts, take advantage and get all the information you’ll need. Write a short, practice essay outline. Use that to study ahead of time.
If you’re not lucky enough to be given the question ahead of time, you’re in for 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.