Almost everyone that has gone to college has, at some point, found themselves very behind in their reading and studying material, and before they know if they have their tests within very few days or even just the next day.
It is well known that procrastination is very common among students and while it is not impossible to cram a lot of content in the few days before a test, it is not a good idea to make it habit. It definitely isn’t the way to go about learning and trying to grow as a student and a professional.
But it does happen sometimes, so here are some tips on how to get through those last minute study sessions and how to get the most out of them.
MixUp the Study Environment
It has been proven that studying in a different environment make studying much more effective. If that place has other people that are also working hard, this can be a motivation to study better.
However, it shouldn’t be a random place or one that can lead to distractions. Look for one where you feel comfortable and where you can focus; for example, the campus library or a café if you need your coffee to stay alert and concentrate. In this case, studying in your bedroom might not be the best idea, since you will be tempted to sleep.
Forget about Textbooks
For some people going through their textbook is the way to go when it comes to studying, but since time is limited, having to go through chapters on end won’t be your best strategy.
The best thing to do is to use class notes and slides or presentations that the teacher prepared. When using those slides, it’s a good idea to create a summarized outline.
If you’re certain that the test will contain textbook related questions, in many cases these books have summaries at the end of each chapter, so you can read those too.
Stay Away from Social Media
There’s so much temptation to make quick checks on your Instagram, or Twitter or Facebook pages to see what’s new, who’s commented or “liked” the picture of your cup of coffee and a book next to it, but truth be told, it can wait. If the urge is too strong, you can download apps that actually block social media websites on your phone for as long as you want.
Make a Plan for Your Time
Depending on the time you have left until the moment of truth, you can divide your time and plan what you will do in those chunks. You can take one of those to familiarize yourself with the material, then use one or two of those to create mind maps, lists, or any other learning strategy that you might have. And finally you can use the last of those chunks to test yourself and see how much information you have actually retained.
Don’t Read Inside Your Head
When you read out loud the information the brain is giving three stimuli (read, say, hear) so that it is easier to actually remember and retain what you’re reading. When doing this, it might be a good idea to do it somewhere where you won’t be surrounded by strangers that might be put off by your reading put loud.
So much easier said than done, but staying calm is very important when you sit down to study. Freaking out can be a huge distraction and it will prevent your brain from retaining information.
Take deep, slow breaths, focus on the task and move forward. If you need it, give yourself a short break and come back to the material. You brain needs to be as relaxed as possible in order to take in lots of information in a short period of time.
Have a Good Night’s Sleep
The night before the test, you must sleep and rest. It’s no use trying to cram the night before because you won’t really remember much and you’ll be tired and sleepy through the test, hampering your performance even more. In fact, some studies suggest that sleeping after studying helps you remember more.
Like we mentioned before, this is not the way to go with every test you might have during college, but it does happen sometimes, and these tips might help you get through a rough patch eventually.