How To Cram

Students who consistently cram for tests are not likely to be successful in their courses. They often have to cram because they have not managed their time well. However, even organized students may sometimes run into problems that disrupt their regular study routine. As a result, they need to cram in order to pass a test. If you are ever in this situation, the following steps may help you do some quick but effective studying.

  1. Accept the fact that you are not going to be able to study everything. You may have to exclude your textbook if you know that your instructor tends to base most of a test on class material.

  2. Read through your class notes (and your textbook notes, if you have them). Mark off ideas that are most important. Try to guess many of the ideas your instructor will put in the test.

  3. Write the ideas you have selected on sheets of paper, making "cram sheets" of important points to study.

  4. Go back, if time remains, and review all your notes. If you do not have textbook notes, you might skim your textbook.

Remember, however, that cramming is never a good idea. Cramming the day before a test is likely to tire you out and raise your anxiety level, so that on the day of an exam you will not think as clearly as you usually do. You will also not remember the material as well as you would if you had learned it in smaller portions over a period of several weeks. Studies have shown that breaking up study time results in more efficient learning. Three 2-hour study sessions are better than one 6-hour study session. Even better are 50-minute sessions separated by breaks. Your brain automatically reviews what you have been studying while you wash dishes or have a snack. The break gets your blood circulating, refreshes your mind, and keeps you from nodding off.