Let us first get something out of the way before proceeding with this article: by no means are we suggesting or recommending that students cram for tests. Cramming reduces schooling into a bunch of tests that need to be passed, when the point of having an education is learning important life skills.

However, with that said, even the most responsible student can sometimes forget about an upcoming test and just be reminded about it the day before it would be administered. When that happens, first of all, thank your lucky stars that you weren’t caught unawares on the day itself. Secondly, don’t panic – we can apply a method to the madness of cramming so that we’ll optimize our results.

Be distraction-free

Move to a place where you won’t be disturbed or won’t be tempted to do anything else but study. This can mean going to the library, a bookstore, or a café. Cramming is pointless if you waste time losing focus. To find a suitable spot, think of a place where you’ll most likely to follow the 50/10 rule – that is, to study for 50 minutes straight before taking a ten-minute break (walk around, go to the restroom, whatever you want). Getting distracted in the middle means having to restart the 50-minute timer. Again, the idea here is to maintain focus so that the brain optimally absorbs and retains information.

Study with a friend

Chances are that a fellow classmate also forgot about the test and needs to cram, too. In a dyad or study group, you can ask each other questions and quiz one another. Additionally, one way to make sure that you fully understand something is by explaining it to another person. You’ll catch yourself not doing it right when you yourself have gaps in knowledge. This method is especially helpful when you’re the type of person who learns best through listening. However, if you’re on your own, then just read to yourself out loud. Hearing the words out loud may have a bigger impact than just reading your notes silently.

Rewrite your notes

However, if you’re the type who learns best through visual cues, then revisiting your notes and forming concise bulleted summaries may be more helpful. This forces your brain to let go of the noise and just focus on the really important stuff, thus optimizing it for the test ahead.

Drink coffee

For comprehensive exams, long hours of sustained studying are often required – and succumbing to sleep is the last thing you’ll want to do. In such cases, arm yourself with caffeine so that you’ll remain alert and awake for longer periods of time.

Get enough sleep

Ironically, after telling you to caffeinate yourself, the last tip we’ll give is that you must get over six hours of sleep. Being well-rested and relaxed helps the brain recall more knowledge than when it is tired and anxious, so don’t overdo the coffee and, once you go to sleep, forget about the test. Just sleep knowing that you did the best you could considering the circumstances, and you’ll be fine with whatever result you get. If you pass, then heave a sigh of relief and remember to be more vigilant about test schedules moving forward. If you fail, then forgive yourself for cramming and make sure that you avoid having to do so in the future. Those in themselves are lessons worth learning the hard way.

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