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Now…I don’t exactly advise cramming. As I’m sure you know, having a well-planned schedule of study, spread out over a manageable time frame is the best way to go about things. But hey, we’re only human. And that means sometimes we slip up, procrastinate a little too hard and next thing you know your biology exam on anatomy is tomorrow morning and you don’t know your humerus from your phalanges.  And that, my friends, is when it’s time to cram.

To make your cram sesh as productive and effective as possible, I’ve compiled some words of advice that should hopefully have you ripping and tearing through study rather than moaning and weeping (don’t lie, we’ve all been there).

Plan your attack

It’s worth taking 10 or so minutes to actually plan what you want to cover or get done before getting started. Although when pressed for time it might feel counterintuitive to hold back on jumping straight into study, taking this short amount of time to plan your attack will make the following hours far more productive. Direction and agenda are important to avoid floundering! Identify what you aim to learn or practice over the study session and set yourself some goals of what you want to cover. How, may you ask, shall you know what it is you should cover? Ah, yes, you’ve come to the right place…

Focus on key ideas

If you’re relying on last minute study, it’s better to have a solid overall idea of all concepts rather than a super strong, inside-out and back-to-front understanding of just one or two particular concepts. If you walk into the test prepped and ready to smash all the questions on those two specific concepts…but then you get in there and there is none, you’ve basically shot yourself in the foot (not to be dramatic). Far better is to feel you have a rough understanding of the overarching concepts and general ideas. This will give you a better chance of being able to at least tackle all the questions in the test as opposed to having to leave things blank. So start broad, and work your way in…which brings me to…

Use the syllabus

Using the syllabus breakdown is a fantastic way to help you work out what you should focus on learning in the limited time you have. The syllabus details all the key subjects and areas of learning crucial to the topic you’re studying, so it’s the perfect directory of what info you should know and what’s likely to be assessed. Obviously, learning the entire syllabus overnight is a basically impossible task but the idea of this is that you should have been learning all this content throughout the term anyway. Reading over the syllabus subjects will help refresh you on the past term’s content and hopefully help you work out the areas you feel quite confident with already and those that need more of your attention.

Don’t forgo sleep!!

And I cannot stress this enough. More often than not, getting a good night’s sleep before an exam or test is going to help you far more than a couple extra hours of late-night cramming. I won’t bore you with the deep science, but basically your brain needs rest to store and recall information effectively. So, pulling that all nighter trying to memorise info will prove completely fruitless if you get into the exam and your brain is pure mush. I recommend setting yourself a strict bedtime if you’re planning a cram sesh to stop you cramming into the wee hours of the morning. Get out as much study as you can and then call it a night once you’ve hit that time. Rest up so your brain is in peak condition and all that study isn’t a waste!

By Emma Verdicchio