You wake up one day and realise that your exam is in a couple of days; you start to freak out and are overwhelmed by the thoughts of not being able to pass the exam. This situation resonates with many students because most of us have been there. We’ve all lacked time and the quickest solution was to cram as much as possible and hopefully pass the test.
Based on a study in North America, it is estimated that over 70% of students exhibit the behaviour of procrastination. It is not impossible to swot up at the last minute but cramming for a test at the eleventh hour is definitely not advisable and it is best not to make it a habit. In spite of that, here are a few ways that you can master the last minute study.
Change up on your study environment
A different environment can actually make studying effective. Putting yourself in a location where other people are working or studying can actually motivate you to study better. Nevertheless, there are various factors that should be taken into consideration before selecting the best study location. Find a place with the least distractions as possible, such as the library at your campus. If you prefer a location with a close proximity to caffeine, you can hit up your favourite café and find yourself a cosy spot to study in. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, as everyone has different preferences, so make sure to choose your location wisely. Sure you can always opt for your bedroom, but its crunch time and there is a possibility that you would be studying late into the night, so it is best to choose a place where you can eliminate the distraction of sleep.
Skip the textbooks
The first thing people reach for when it comes to studying is the textbook. However, your time is limited and it would not help either for you to go through chapters and chapters of words. Skip the textbooks and focus on your class notes or slides prepared by your lecturer. Depending on the structure of the slides that your lecturer prepared, there is always an effective method of studying it. If the slides are predominantly text, then its best to review the slides, grasp the organizational structure, and create your own summarized outline. If the slides are mainly visual, you should still create an outline to ideally identify each visual. Illustrations have a bigger impact on our memory compared to long strings of words. Nonetheless, if you are very sure that there will be textbook related questions in the test, there is most likely a summary at the end of each chapter that you can read up on.
Resist the urge to use social media
Sure, it would be great to take a break once in a while to give your brain a breather from all the information. However, we have the tendency to look at our phones every so often as if we are handicapped without it. Your ‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram can wait. If you need an external help from these unnecessary distractions, there is an app called SelfControl that would just do the trick. The app is simple to use as it helps to block the social media apps on your smartphone. A time limit can be set accordingly to how long you would want to focus on studying.
Organize your time
The best way to organize your time is to plan it in an hourly format. You might think that organizing your time will be a big waste of time, but be reminded that failure to plan is planning to fail. Organizing your time will contribute greatly to studying at the last minute, because if you are in a constant panic-ridden state it will cause you to further procrastinate. Let’s say you have three days till your dooms day, the first day should be focused on familiarizing yourself with the study material. Day two should consist of active learning which can be done through making a list, or better yet a mind map. On the final day, you may give yourself a simple test to make sure the information is retained and re-read the list as many times as possible.
Read it out loud
As a matter of fact, shout, sing or even rap, as long as you’re opening your mouth. By studying out loud, it is easier to retain information as your brain gives you three stimuli (say, hear, and read) instead of one to recall the material. As you talk, your retention builds up because you’re forced to read the material out loud. So, it would be better if you are not just studying in your head, study aloud and avoid public areas if you can. You wouldn’t want to be bugging the people around you.
Yes, it is easier said than done but it is important to calm yourself down and study on, because this is not the right time to freak out. Your emotions are a form of distraction when you study. Simply take deep, slow breaths and focus on your necessary tasks. If you’re still feeling way too stressed in the midst of studying, give yourself a short break and then come back to it. Your brain needs to be relaxed especially when you have to load up on information in a short time frame.
Have a good night’s sleep
Before the day of the test, have a good night’s sleep. It is not necessary for you to sacrifice sleep to study. This is because; studies have shown that getting 6 hours of sleep can help you remember more. On the other hand, lack of sleep can cause you to perform terribly in pressurized situations. You may be tempted to forgo sleep to finish the last few chapters but any sleep that you can get is a vital part of succeeding the test. Research suggests that sleeping after studying helps you to remember better. So, lay off the caffeine before going to bed and try to think peaceful thoughts while keeping your mind off the test.
The tips above aren’t always the optimal methods to study but it might be the light at the end of the tunnel when you don’t have sufficient time to study properly. Ideally, you should give yourself a time frame to study and at least make it a point to revise after every lecture. It might be also beneficial for you to eat well, exercise, and get lots of sleep. So, if you are ever faced with this situation, just keep calm and study on.
This post was written by Jillian Cheong from iPrice Group.