1. Set aside time to study for a little bit each day.
This is probably the most important tip on this list. Time management is extremely important when trying to prevent cramming. If you set aside 30 minutes to an hour each day leading up to your exam to study, you are going to save yourself so much stress and anxiety the day before your exam. If you find yourself cramming because you didn’t manage your schedule well enough, DO NOT pull an all-nighter. Studies show that trying to study all night up until your test has the same effectiveness as if you took your test intoxicated. Just don’t do it;, it’s not going to do you any good and you run the risk of falling asleep while studying and oversleeping your exam.
2. Rewrite your notes.
This one might not work for everyone, but for some it has been shown to help tremendously. Don’t just rewrite them verbatim, though. Condense them! Make notes of the key points and topics. Repetition is a very helpful tool when studying. If you rewrite your notes, you are forcing yourself to relearn the material.
3. Study with people that know the material, not necessarily your best friends.
Everyone always wants to study with their friends, but is that really going to help you on your exam? A lot of times, studying with friends can be extremely distracting and actually slow down learning the material. This can easily lead to cramming. Try picking someone in class to study with who seems to really know the material. If you can’t do that, then I would suggest studying with a TA or a tutor. It is not worth risking your grade by trying to maintain your social life while studying. Studying with someone who will challenge you to really know the material will help prevent cramming and lead to less stress before an exam.
4. Pay attention.
Paying close attention to material in class or to the material you are studying is very important when trying to avoid cramming. If you put in the work while you are learning and you actually focus on what is in front of you, you will have less to do later. Try putting your phone out of arm’s reach for the duration of your class time or study time. This will allow you to fully focus without having the urge to get on social media or to check text messages.
5. Study smarter, not harder.
We’ve probably all heard this expression, but what does it mean? It means find a method of studying that works for you. This could be flashcards, diagrams, pictures, flow charts—anything you need to do that makes sense to you, do it. If you are reading this and thinking, “well I don’t know what method works best for me,” I would try googling different note-taking strategies and try a few to see whether one stands out as a favorite. By figuring out what method works best for you, you can effectively take notes without having to write every single word down from your book or class notes, which will reduce the time it takes you to review everything come test day.
Did you know all of our free lectures come with notes? Simply click a topic –> select a lesson –> and then click “Prime” right above the lecture! If you’d like more information on study techniques and how to get the most out of your studying, watch our FREE video titled Primer: Methods for Success!