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What to Do If You Have No Choice But to Cram for a Test

03.02.24

Ideally, you’ll prepare for your tests several weeks in advance to ensure you have time to cover all the material. However, life can get in the way at times, meaning you may end up needing to cram for a test. To make your cram session as successful as possible, here are a few things you can do.

1. Gather Everything You Need

Before you sit down to study, make sure you have everything you need. The last thing you want is to disrupt your cram session to search for a book, handout, or your notes. Also stock up on plenty of paper and a few pens.

2. Set a Timer

Decide how long you can maintain your attention. It may be tempting to keep going for more than one hour, but if your concentration starts to wane, you’ll stop seeing the benefits. It’s far better to stop while you’re still engaged than to push yourself to exhaustion.

Set a timer for however long you can concentrate and do nothing unrelated to studying until it goes off. Then, set a new timer for a break — around 10 minutes is ideal. Use this break to clear your mind. Activities you may like to try include a short workout, making a snack, or even a mindfulness practice. Once your break is over, return to cramming.

3. Turn Off Notifications

If you receive a notification on your phone while you’re studying, you may be tempted to check what it is. To avoid breaking your concentration, turn off all notifications. If you like, you can use your break time to check your phone — but only if you put it away as soon as the timer goes off to signal the end of your break.

4. Determine Where You Need to Focus

Unfortunately, cramming means you won’t have time to study everything. Instead, you’ll need to determine what’s most important for the test. Avoid going into too much fine detail and focus on having the main points clear in your mind.

A great way to do this is to write a summary of the material. Depending on the type of test and the subject, you may like to write questions along with answers, make a list of dates with their events, or draw diagrams of key concepts.

5. Act Out the Information

To help facts stick in your head, involve your whole body as you study. Read the most important sentences aloud, placing emphasis on the key words and act out the material in any way you can — get creative.

6. Give Yourself a Reward for Finishing on Time

Motivate yourself to stay focused by promising yourself a reward. For instance, you could leave your favourite treat in the kitchen — but only eat it if you finish studying by your deadline. This will prevent you from staying up too late and feeling too tired to do well on your test the next day.

The next time you have a test, commit to becoming more disciplined by scheduling study sessions in advance. This is easier said than done if you lack somewhere quiet to study without interruptions. The solution is to move off campus into student rentals. Kingston, Ontario, has fully-furnished apartments at Foundry Mack. You’ll be able to study in your private bedroom or one of our bright study spaces. When you need to take a break, spend some time with other students in the outdoor recreation area, which has a fire pit and BBQs. Book a tour to see where you could be living.


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