Cramming For Exams – Gray Holland

As quite possibly the worst qualified person to talk about cramming for exams, I did have to think quite a long way back to see if I could remember a time when I had crammed for any kind of test. I didn’t do it for AS exams – some around me then may remember my 100 day count down to exams, complete with organised past papers. I didn’t do it for GCSE exams either – in Year 11, I basically didn’t take a break at all, revising even on Christmas Day. Year 10 exams I didn’t revise for, at all. Year 9 I only took my history exam. Before that… I’d never really properly studied.

And then it struck me; with 50 days exactly as I’m writing this, till my first exam – incidentally Mr Hodson’s English Literature Drama and Poetry Pre-1900 paper – I have done what I think most of my teachers would refer to as ‘nothing’.
Now I’m in the last 50 days, and I’m considering that ‘cramming’ – with the sheer amount of information that I need to memorise for Classics, English Lit and Film Studies, 50 days does not feel like nearly enough.

But what if it was only 10 days?

If you have left all revision right up to the last minute, then here follows the top three tips, as researched by me – a student very much hoping to throw off procrastination and anxiety for long enough to start revising before I actually need these tips myself…

1. Prioritise.

If you’ve left it to the last minute, you will only stress yourself out more than you undoubtedly already are if you try to relearn entire topics down to the minute detail. So, stop. Think – ‘What are the key points and do I know them for this topic?’ – if the answer is yes, move on. This is particularly effective if, somehow, you have a listen of topics broken down into subtopics and you can just rattle through the list.

2. Read your notes aloud.

No, I’m not saying that you do this to annoy your roommate – but you will genuinely remember things better if you have said them out loud because reading aloud forces your brain to actually concentrate on what you’re reading and what you’re saying and so the information is more likely to stick. Please, for the sake of your roommates though, don’t do this when they’re trying to sleep just because *you* didn’t revise ahead of time.

3. Sleep.

I cannot stress this enough – you will not perform any better in the exam, if you stayed up until 4am studying because you simply will not recall anything you read – no matter how caffeinated you are or were when you decided to throw all scientific research out the window and pull an all-nighter to ‘do better in the exam’. You’d do better to get 8 hours of sleep, having done your best to cram the day before, or in the few days before if at all possible, and then go into the exam awake and with most of your mental capacity functional, rather than hyped up on coffee or energy drinks or catatonically snoring at your exam desk – trust me, the people around you will thank you for not doing this.

So those are my tips for cramming for a test… Nothing will replace proper well planned, well organised and carried out revision though, and you know that, you don’t need me to tell you… So maybe before it gets to this ten, five, four, three, two days before the exam, test or whatever – do some revision.

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