Expert Article #1
How to cram for an exam
If you are trying to learn how to cram for an exam, you are probably already low on time so some real planning and effort will be required to make a success of any intensive study effort. First of all a few tips on how to cram effectively. The brain cannot be trained in a very short period of time to improve sensory memory, so hoping that you can improve your capacity to memorize things very quickly is going to be a little too much to ask.
Some things you will need; index cards, your textbooks, somewhere quiet and uninterrupted, a clock and above all some dedication. One of the first things that is very important is to understand that studying all night is likely to do more damage to your exam results than studying briefly the night before. Our brains need a certain amount of sleep to retain information effectively, for some people this might only mean three or four hour others may need more. Either way it is better to go to bed earlier and get up and cram some more, than to stay up all night and dash into the exam hall bleary-eyed with only hazy memories of the previous night’s study. With all this in mind here some ideas on how to cram effectively:
Create a set of flashcards
If you are cramming for an exam that contains formulas etc… Write down one side of each important formula on to an index card, with the other side of the equation on the reverse of the card.
If the subject is verbose such as history using the same index card technique, note down short questions that may be related to your exam. Write the answers on the back of the card.
Do not create more than 100 as the human brain is unlikely to be able to assimilate much more information than this in a short period. Divide up your available study time into sections. Learn 20 cards at a time flipping them and if possible saying the answer out loud. 20 cards should take about 10 minutes to examine, answer, and check the answer so within an hour you should be able to get through 100 cards.
Over and over
Then start again, this time every time you correct answer place the card in a separate pile once you’ve completed the second flash card reading, you will hopefully be left with less than 50 cards. Now go back to your textbooks checking out the beginning and ending of each chapter where the important info usually is, and make up another 50 cards to replace the ones you have learnt. Start flipping cards again and keep a pile of correct answered cards until you reach 100. Then go through this 100 again. Any that you miss, add back to the pile of incorrect cards. This process can be repeated but note that adding more than another 100 cards to your original set is going to have a negative effect. Information on a total of 200 cards is usually enough to get you through most exams.
Be an early bird.
Do not drink caffeinated or other products designed to keep you awake as many of these can interfere with your memory capacity and make it more difficult to sleep. Getting to bed before midnight and getting up at dawn and re-studying the flashcards from the night before, again discarding the correct answers, and repeating through the incorrect ones. If you are reading this and needed to know how to cram for an exam, you should have already started by now!