Cram for Exams: How to Study Effectively The Night Before The Test

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Having to cram for exams is not the most recommendable thing to do since it probably will only help you increase your stress levels.

But we know that exams can be intimidating, especially when you feel unprepared for them. 

So, whether you are an adult student with a very busy schedule or got out of hand procrastinating, there might be some moments when you have no other option but to study intensively the night before the test.

If you want to optimize your time and are looking for cram methods, you landed in the right place because at Gradehacker, the non-traditional adult student #1 resource, we have years of experience helping and assisting students with assignments and exams.

Fortunately, there are ways to make the most of your cram session, and we’ll show you how!

cram for exam- first photo- men on laptop at night

Planning: Creating a Study Schedule

There are many things you need to take into account when planning a study guide for the night before the exam. To put it briefly:

To prepare for exams, it’s crucial to make a strategy for how you will approach your studies. Identifying what you need to learn for the test is vital to success.

Make a list of important information and put the things you don’t know as a priority and the things you do know at the bottom to avoid studying the same things twice.

Planning your study time wisely is a crucial factor when cramming for an exam. Time will be your best friend, so make sure every minute counts.

Pick a spot to study where you can concentrate. Avoid distractions like TV, friends, or your phone to study well. Choose somewhere quiet, comfortable, and well-lit to help you focus.

To prepare for your exam, create a study plan by following these two simple steps:

Focus on Key Points: Reviewing Important Information

There are key elements that will help you focus on your cram session. Some simple tips are:

When cramming for exams, focus on the most important information, such as main ideas and key details. These are likely to appear on the test, so prioritize them. Keep an eye out for headings, important names, dates, and explanations of major ideas.

Ignore any additional information that doesn’t relate to the basics.

Review your notes and check for important concepts to prepare effectively. If you don’t know them well enough, write them on separate paper or note cards for easy reference.

Rewriting your notes and reading them aloud can also help you memorize the content. Also, consider rewriting your note cards multiple times and try to predict any possible essay questions.

But if your notes aren’t the best and you think you can learn a few things to improve their quality, be sure to check out these tips for taking notes in online classes.

Active Learning: Engaging With The Material

When studying hard for an exam, you must stop and check how much you have learned halfway through and quiz yourself. You can:

Before cramming for an exam, ensure you have all the necessary materials, like your notes and textbooks. Although you may not need your books if you have taken good notes, having them with you is still better.

Recording important information from your notes or textbook using a voice recorder can help you learn while you do other tasks. Listening to the recording repeatedly makes the information more likely to stick in your memory.

You can listen to the recording while doing activities such as sleeping, getting ready, eating breakfast, traveling to the exam location, or waiting for the exam to start.

Also, you can use different memorization techniques. The best techniques include:

If you want to learn how to use these mnemonic techniques better, you can check out our blog post. And if you are a visual learner, here are the tips you need to know to improve your study sessions!

Practice Problems: Applying What You've Learned

When studying hard for an exam, you must stop and check how much you have learned halfway through and quiz yourself. You can:

Some people use flashcards or mnemonic devices to remember information to prepare for exams, while others opt for practice tests to become familiar with the content. 

But for a multiple-choice exam, practicing with sample questions is helpful to understand which answers are correct. 

When studying, pay more attention to the topics you struggle with than the ones you already know. It’s common to have some knowledge of some topics but not others, so make sure to spend enough time on the areas you’re not confident in.

However, don’t neglect the content that only needs a quick review. If possible, memorize crucial points for each topic that might be evaluated. 

Take Breaks: Getting Enough Rest and Relaxation

Even though you might feel pressured by the short time you have and want to use it all for studying, resting and taking breaks can help your productivity more than you can imagine!

To rest when cramming, you can:

Remember that a night of good sleep is essential for optimal brain function, so give yourself time for rest and relaxation.

Everyone is different when it comes to sleep needs, so consider whether taking short power naps or one long sleep session just before the exam is the best option for you.

Even if you don’t have much time, try to sleep as much as possible before your exam. It’s better to do most of your studying before bed and then review a bit more in the morning.

If you stay up all night, you might be tired and make mistakes on your test.

Research by Sleep Foundation shows that sleep deprivation makes it harder to remember things, think straight, and process information. So try to study as much as possible before you get sleepy and go to bed early.

To effectively cram for exams, don’t just read the textbook until you’re exhausted and fall asleep! And if you drink soda or coffee, do it in moderation so it does not disrupt your sleep.

If you’re worn out after a long day of studying, sacrificing sleep to keep revising won’t drastically improve your grades, and to avoid burnout, you can check out our six tips to help yourself!

Exam Day Preparation: Finalizing Before the Test

The day you’ve been putting so much effort in the hours prior has come, so have in mind to:

Eat a balanced breakfast before the test. Avoid eating only high-carb foods and choose foods rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, fruits, or vegetables.

Some foods like blueberries, salmon, nuts, avocados, pomegranate juice, green tea, and dark chocolate are considered superfoods because they help increase brain function and longevity.

Consider eating one or two of these foods as part of your breakfast to help with your exam, and if you need ideas, you can check our food recommendations for students, which are quick and easy.

After breakfast, review all your study notes or flashcards one more time, even if you think you have memorized them. Pick out the most crucial information for the test and keep it to 3-4 words or a single formula.

Review your notes as the exam nears to boost memory retention.

To prepare for exams, arrive at the test site ahead of time, and as silly as it might sound, use the restroom before starting! This ensures you won’t be distracted by the urge to go while taking the test. 

Then you just need to sit down, relax, and envision yourself succeeding!

Cram for Exams- men on laptop and paper

Make Cramming Work For You!

The night before an exam can be stressful, but proper preparation and rest can make the experience more manageable.

Remember to take breaks, get adequate sleep, eat healthily, and review your study notes one last time. Arrive early at the test site and remember to relax and be confident in all the hard work you’ve put into studying!

We wish you the best of luck! and if you want personalized assistance, you can count on us anytime! From last-minute exams to individual assignments, we want to help you earn your college degree sooner.

And if you have any doubts, you can always book a call!

And if you liked this blog and want to find more information feel free to check out these articles:

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso is a content creator passioned for writing, music, films, and the arts. At Gradehacker, she helps to improve non-traditional students life’s by finding and providing the most useful information, so they can always progress. You can find her on LinkedIn.