Have you ever left revising for an exam to the last minute? If you are a student, the answer is probably yes! It is in a student’s nature to leave revising for an exam to the last minute at least once in their lives. When this happens, panic takes over! Then students try to cram as much information into their heads as possible in a really short period of time. Cramming is definitely a stressful experience, so, it is best to try and avoid it!
If you want to discover how you can prevent cramming, check out this article, to learn ten solid tips that if you follow, will hopefully mean that cramming is a thing of the past!
What is cramming in studying?
Probably every student in the world has crammed before a test at some point in their lives. It is so common for students to leave revising for an exam to the last minute, meaning that they have no choice but to cram!
‘Cramming’ is a term used to describe the process of students trying to teach themselves as much as they can in a short space of time. Often, students try to remember a very large amount of information in this short time period, meaning that cramming can be very stressful!
However, cramming isn’t the best study technique, as it often just involves memorisation. Students are not understanding and processing what they have learned. Instead, they memorise as much material as possible, so that they will be able to answer the questions on an exam.
Consequently, cramming isn’t the best study technique! You can discover what cramming is in more detail and the pros and cons of this strategy if you check out this article from Levereage Edu.
Cramming is often caused by students procrastinating or having poor time management. Therefore, if you follow the tips in this article, you are more likely to avoid the intense and stressful experience of cramming!
1. Start early
Cramming usually occurs as a result of procrastination. Students keep putting off revision again and again, until it is just too late. Therefore, the key to preventing cramming is to just start your revision or studying as early as possible!
As soon as you have an exam date in mind, it is best to begin revising. Even if this is just a little bit of revising each week, the total number of hours you do will soon add up. As a result, when it is finally time for you to sit your exam, you will not be worrying about not knowing anything or think that you have forgotten all that you have learnt.
Starting revision earlier means that the information you have learnt is more likely to stay in your memory and you are less likely to forget! This is different to cramming, where forgetting happens very easily because you haven’t stored the information you have consumed properly.
Avoiding cramming means that you may even be able to relax before the night of your exam. If you want to discover some tips on what to do the night before you have an exam, as well as learning some general exam preparatory techniques, check out this article from Think Student.
2. Study little and often
However, starting your revision early is not enough to stop cramming. This is because if you revise a load weeks before your exam for hours on end and then do nothing, this won’t be very useful.
Instead, one of the best revision tips is to revise little and often. If you only revise or study in thirty-to-forty-minute blocks, you are less likely to lose concentration. Consequently, the information you go over during that period of time is more likely to be retained.
If you repeatedly revise in thirty- or forty-minute blocks, the information you need to know will be stuck in your brain in no time! Therefore, the tips starting early and revising little and often are best when paired together.
However, it was best to outline them separately to show you just how important these strategies are! If you want to learn more about how to manage your time with revision and as a student in general, check out this article from Think Student.
3. Create a revision timetable
Most students end up cramming because they don’t organise their studying! The best thing to do when you know that you have an exam in the near future is to create a timetable for your study sessions.
Work out how many weeks you have before the exam and decide how much revision you want to do per day. Make sure that this is little and often! Then, make your revision timetable look colourful and enticing.
It really helped me to highlight the different study blocks I allocated to each day and colour in the different days. Making the schedule look more desirable will make you want to study more- trust me!
It can be good to place your study sessions at the times of the day where you feel the most awake, to maximise your productivity.
The key to studying effectively is preparation and organisation. Therefore, if you create a revision timetable, you are more likely to stick to your studying and revise when you are supposed to. This means that you will be able to relax the night before your exam!
If you want to find out how to make a really effective revision timetable, check out this article from Think Student.
4. Find an effective revision strategy
Even if you have studied as much as you can, you may still feel unconfident in your knowledge and may think that you still have to resort to cramming. If you started studying early, have been revising little and often but still don’t feel as if you are retaining all of the information, you may not be revising correctly.
There are so many bad revision techniques out there, which students continue to do! For example, rewriting out your notes or reading through your textbook.
These are not very effective revision strategies at all! This is because they are passive and don’t allow you to actively recall information.
If you only do these revision methods, you are unlikely to remember what you need to and will then end up cramming the night before the exam. Therefore, it’s best to start with useful and effective revision techniques, which will definitely lead to you remembering absolutely everything!
For knowledge-based subjects, one of the best revision methods for active recall is flashcards. You can find out how to make the best flash cards for revision if you check out this article from Think Student.
Alternatively, this article from Think Student describes a whole host of other revision strategies which are also great for actively recalling information! If you have the correct revision technique, you are sure to remember everything you need to.
5. Minimise distractions
You may have the best revision methods in the world, but they still will not be very useful if you are continually distracted! When you are revising in your little study blocks, make sure that nothing is available to distract you.
This includes putting your phone on silent! Remove anything that will prevent you from doing your work, such as the television or even your dog if he keeps barking at you!
Minimising distractions means that you are more likely to complete some quality revision, so you will hopefully not be panicking the night before an exam. This is because you will be safe in the knowledge that you have revised to the best of your ability and won’t end up cramming when you realise that you haven’t really been paying attention during all of your revision sessions.
If you want to discover more tips on how to prevent cramming, check out this page from Virtue Map.
6. Look after yourself physically and mentally
Some students end up cramming before an exam because they didn’t look after themselves leading up to the exam. For example, they may not have been eating properly or getting enough sleep.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you have a good diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sleep is also important, as without enough of it, you are likely to become lethargic.
Having enough sleep, a good diet and staying hydrated should keep your mind alert and you won’t get the dreaded brain fog. Hopefully, you will then feel perky and eager to start studying way in advance of the night before the exam.
However, you need to make sure that you are also looking after your mental wellbeing. After all, if you are sad or worried about something, the last thing you want to do is study!
Just remember to take time out for yourself and make sure that you are not tiring yourself out. If you want to discover some tips to help you lessen any exam stress, check out this article from Think Student.
7. Take breaks when studying
To look after your mental health, it is really important that you take breaks whilst studying! You may be wondering how taking breaks whilst you are studying prevents cramming, however there is definitely a direct link!
If you don’t take any breaks when studying, you are more likely to lose concentration and as a result, won’t take in as much information. This would eventually lead up to realising that you don’t know enough information before the exam and panicking…
Then you know what happens! The inevitable cramming. Simply put, you need to have breaks whilst studying, otherwise you could end up burning out and will end up cramming the night before the exam, even if you did start really early.
8. Give yourself little rewards
It can definitely be hard to make yourself study. This is why so many students end up cramming. They keep putting off all of the revision they know that they have to do because let’s face it, a lot of the time, revision is boring!
If you can’t think of ways to make your revision fun and interesting, you likely will never want to go through your flashcards when you could go and watch a film on the sofa with some sweets. Realistically, revision just doesn’t seem as appealing.
Consequently, it can be useful to give yourself little rewards whenever you study for a period of time. They don’t have to be very big. Maybe promise yourself a little walk to the park after you have done forty minutes, or a slice of cake from a coffee shop after a full week of revising a little every day.
If you promise yourself these little rewards, you are more likely to revise and even better, you are more likely to want to revise! As a result, you will probably gain an immense amount of knowledge and won’t have to cram when the day of your exam finally arrives.
9. Set realistic goals
When you are revising, you need to make sure that you are not trying to consume too much information at once. Many students try to go over large chunks of information in a short space of time when revising.
However, this is just another version of cramming! The only difference being that they haven’t left it to last minute! Set yourself achievable goals, memorising and understanding smaller chunks of information which you know that you can actually do.
Consequently, you will not only be more likely to remember the information, but you are more likely to understand it! Cramming is definitely not the way to go. You can discover why in more detail if you check out this page from Oxford Learning.
10. Talk to somebody who cares for you
Some students end up cramming not because they are lazy or hate revision, but because they put too much pressure on themselves. This makes them so anxious that they keep putting off revising because that means facing their fears of not having enough knowledge for the exam.
Alternatively, they may see revising as too overwhelming for them and panic, leading to them doing no revision. However, exam day soon arrives, and they have no choice but to cram and get it over with.
If this sounds like you, the best thing to do is to talk to someone. This could be a teacher, a family member, or even just somebody that you are close to. They may be able to help decrease the pressure you put on yourself and stop your worrying.
Hopefully, you can then deal with revising much earlier.