How to Study Last Minute for an Exam: 11 Steps

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How to Study Last Minute for an Exam: 11 Steps
How to Study Last Minute for an Exam: 11 Steps

It's the night before the long-awaited test and you haven't studied at all. While it won't get you a high score, this practice can definitely save you from a 0. Follow the suggestions below and get ready for a long night!


Method 1 of 2: The night before the test

Cram for a Test Step 1

Step 1. Take good notes

If you don't have a lot of time to study for an exam, having good note-taking skills will be essential to getting as much out as you can the night before.

  • Find out what you really need to study. Take advantage of any review the teacher is interested in doing the day before the exam. You will find out what matters are most important to him. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions (however, if you're studying at the last minute, you'll definitely have a lot to ask). Use any study guide your teacher provides. Although they won't talk about everything that will be on the test, they will give you great tips.
  • Extract as much as you can from the notes you made inside the classroom. Assuming you attend classes regularly, you should probably have some notes to review. If not, ask a classmate if you can take a copy of the ones he has. Your notes are a treasure of knowledge as your teacher only covers what he thinks is relevant. Therefore, writing down what the teacher says in the classroom is super important!
Cram for a Test Step 2

Step 2. Find out what the important concepts are

As you scan your notes, find important definitions, concepts, and equations. If you don't know them by heart, write them down on a separate piece of paper or on study sheets. You will end up memorizing what is important.

  • The act of rewriting can also help you memorize the content. People who are able to memorize things visually will do well. If your learning method is more audible, recite the words as you write them on the note cards.
  • If you have enough time, consider rewriting your note cards several times. It's exhausting but very useful for memorization. However, if you are trying to absorb the more practical equations or content, this repetition will no longer be all that useful.
Cram for a Test Step 3

Step 3. Study efficiently

You obviously won't have enough time to cover all the content, but you can focus on what is most likely to fall. As a result, you will have more opportunity to develop ways to memorize these more specific subjects.

  • Identify the main points. Go to your guide and study sheets and see which topics are the most important or recurring. Review the important parts of your text and write down any new information that you think is relevant. The essence of all this is not to write everything down, but to find out which ideas, facts or equations are most likely to pass the test. When you reach that goal, focus on these topics as much as you can.
  • Look at the beginning and end of each chapter in the book you are studying. The first page usually shows the main points, which will serve as a basis for an overall understanding of the material. The last few pages typically summarize, define, or highlight the main terms of the chapter. If your case is math, write down the equations that are important.
  • Don't rule out the possibility of discursive questions. So ask yourself how you would go about answering them. Train your skills. In the state you are in, you should at least know a little about what you are studying. Think about the key points that are involved and outline (preferably on paper) your approach to discursive issues.
Cram for a Test Step 4

Step 4. Now it's time to practice

As you don't have a lot of time, you'll have to do a quick study. This is the moment when rubber meets paper. Erase all the information you've desperately gathered, test yourself, and quickly assess what you've achieved so far. With that, you'll know what to focus on.

  • Review your flashcards or chips first. Go through the key points quickly. If you feel that you can understand and that you will be able to remember later, remove this part of your notes or leave the flashcards behind. Look for answers to any questions that pop up in your notes.
  • Test yourself. If your teacher has given a review exercise, do it now. Generally he will put most of what will be put to the test. If not, look for attachment exercises at the end of each chapter and practice with them. Only ask the questions that are relevant. Don't spend too much time here. When you get stuck on an issue, leave it to be resolved only after you finish your test and receive your grade.
  • Rate your tests. Be honest with yourself. If not, it will only harm itself, because at the time of the let's see, it will falter. Take the questions you missed and compare them with the information contained in your sheets and flashcards. Maybe you need to make some new ones or revise what you thought you knew.
Cram for a Test Step 5

Step 5. If the previously advised study strategy isn't working for you, try some memorization techniques

The brain never forgets. Forgetting some information is just another way of calling the inability to store it correctly so that it can be found when you need it. Practice some memorization techniques that can help you make the most of your last few minutes of study.

  • Don't forget to use the mnemonics technique! Mnemonics is a fancy way of saying memorization. Do you remember when your Portuguese teacher taught SECAPPF (to be, to be, to continue, to walk, to appear, to remain, to stay) to memorize the connecting verbs? This is how the mnemonics technique is used, that is, transforming a series of words into just an acronym.
  • Try using some pegs to pin the information in a place where you can see it all the time. You can also relate it to an image that you are familiar with or tell yourself some story about the memorized content. Remember that words are digested through vision!
  • Try to fragment the content. In other words, try to organize it into categories. For example, if you are studying finance, try to organize the information into stocks, bonds, funds, etc. under a larger category and understand what it means. Organize the main ideas under these concepts.
Cram for a Test Step 6

Step 6. Save the material and go to sleep

Sometimes it may happen that you don't have a lot of time to sleep, but try to do as much as you can before any test. Take the opportunity to review the content if you wake up earlier than expected. You could end up making more mistakes than expected on the test if you're not rested.

Studies indicate that sleep loss erodes memory performance. And it doesn't end there! Lack of sleep will make information revised in the last few minutes harder to remember. So focus on your "studies" as much as you can before you get sleepy. When that happens, it means it's time to go to sleep, as your brain will no longer be as active

Method 2 of 2: On the day of the test

Cram for a Test Step 7

Step 1. Have a very light and balanced breakfast

Preferably at least an hour before taking the test. Avoid eating only carbohydrates. Instead, choose a meal rich in protein, omega 3, fiber. You can also eat fruits and vegetables.

Some "superfoods" that help improve brain performance and longevity include: blackberries, salmon, walnuts, seeds, avocados, pomegranate juice, green tea, and dark chocolate (like those in Hershey's bars). Try eating one or two of these as part of breakfast

Cram for a Test Step 8

Step 2. Plan your study session

Study in the car or on the bus with a friend. Join a group of friends an hour or so before the test and ask each other questions about the main points of the subject. You must keep the information fresh in your mind. Avoid side issues.

Cram for a Test Step 9

Step 3. Review all your chips or flashcards one more time

Well before the exam, take a look at each of your chips or flashcards, even if you think you've already memorized them. You want everything fresh in your mind for exam time, remember? If you're having trouble remembering a particular concept or equation, write it down six or seven times in a row. This should reinforce the information in your brain.

Cram for a Test Step 10

Step 4. Identify a specific piece of information that seems most important to the test

Do not choose information that is more than three or four words/a formula at a time. Face such information for one to two minutes. Concentrate well. Rewrite it before the exam to improve memory fixation.

Cram for a Test Step 11

Step 5. Take a trip to the bathroom and go to the living room early

Do it at least five minutes before the test and don't forget to stop by the bathroom before going to your wallet. You shouldn't worry about this kind of need while you're taking the test. After that, calm down, relax and be confident. Visualize success!


  • If you're having trouble staying alert/active while studying at the last minute and don't have any time to sleep, eat foods that provide natural energy, such as an apple or a banana. They are better than caffeine and sugary drinks as they won't have side effects (such as mental decay) right away.
  • Discard as many distractions as you can. If you are able to study without a computer, stay away from one. Otherwise, turn off the internet while using the computer.
  • Read aloud. Verbal memorization is the best way to learn when you're in a hurry.
  • Drinking lots of water helps you think. Also, it hydrates your body. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic. If you've been drowning in coffee to get a last-minute study, you'll have to rehydrate.
  • Well before taking the test, try doing some physical exercises. Go up some stairs or try some jumping jacks. Exercising makes the blood flow and relax your body. It also improves your alertness.
  • Obviously, if you've waited until now to study, you're way overdue. Start studying as soon as you finish reading the tips!
  • Take small breaks, but often. They help keep you alert and can also prevent overloading. For every 50 minutes of work, rest 10.
  • The smell of cinnamon, that is, cinnamon gum, should help your concentration. So don't forget to keep a huge red gum with you in case you need "additional concentration".
  • You might find it easier to review the content with a study partner. You can ask each other questions as you go through the story. Some people think this is a distraction. So see which method works best for you.
  • If your exam is the next day, study for at least thirty minutes before going to bed. So, if you have time the next morning, study for another 15 minutes so that the information is fresh in your mind. Good luck!


  • Avoid giving in to the temptation to cheat. Being able to absorb at least 50% of the content is a thousand times better than any high score anyone can get. Pasting is risky, even if you don't feel bad about it. Teachers don't like these things one bit, the consequences of which can be far worse than a 0. They will start to fix their assignments more rigidly, and if you need their help or recommendation to do something, they will likely refuse. If they accept, they will surely mention the fact, causing their name to be tarnished. Some schools use suspension or even expulsion as a punishment.
  • Sleep deprivation and caffeine intake are not good for your health, and therefore should be avoided as much as possible. Depriving yourself of sleep can cause your reflexes to diminish. For that reason, think twice about driving somewhere after a full night of studying.
  • Even if you do well on the exam, don't expect to remember the content after a few days. People generally learn best when they review content gradually. This last-minute study is just an aid to very quick memorization. You will need to understand the content later, as in the case of math equations, for example. Therefore, you will probably have to review the material again, even after the exam.

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