The Right Way to Cram for a Test

How to Study If You Only Have Minutes

Students Studying at the Library
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You've been there, right? You forgot about a test (or procrastinated) and realized that you had less than an hour to cram in as much knowledge as you could. In that situation, some people would rely on a cheat sheet, which is never a good idea. You, on the other hand, don't have to do that. Learn how to cram for a test efficiently, and study for your test even if you only have minutes.

NOTE: These techniques will not work for tests like the SAT, PSAT, or ACT

The Best Way to Cram for a Test

1. Go Somewhere Quiet

Head to the library or a quiet classroom if you're in school. If you're studying at home right before the test, turn off the TV, shut off your cell, and power down the computer. Go to your room. Tell your friends to leave you alone right now. You have less than an hour to cram, so you're going to need 100% of your focus.

2. Learn Your Study Guide

Most teachers pass out study guides for a major test. If your teacher is one of them, use it now. If you have to cram for a test, it is the only resource you have time to use. Memorize everything on it, using mnemonic devices like acronyms or a song. Don't bother making flashcards at this point – you'll just be wasting time since you only have minutes.

3. Crack the Book

If you misplaced your study guide or did not get one from your teacher, then grab a pen and a notebook and head to the book. Read the first two pages of every chapter that's being covered on the test, looking for major ideas, vocabulary, and concepts.

Summarize anything bold or highlighted in your own words in your notebook. Read the last page of every chapter, too, answering the review questions in your head. If you can't find an answer to a review question, then look it up in the book. It's probably a question on the test.

If you still have time

4. Review Your Notes, Quizzes and Assignments

Your teacher probably created your exam based on the notes, quizzes and assignments he or she gave out during the unit. If you have kept them, (and you always should prior to your final exam), then read through everything you can, memorizing the info on the pages.

If you still have time

Quiz Yourself

Now is not the time to hunt down your best friend and have him or her quiz you. This is a cram session! You'll waste time locating a study buddy! Instead, cover up the answers on the study guide and quiz yourself. Circle the things you don't know and come back to them for a quick refresher. 

If you still have time

Ask a Good Student For Help 

If you can't find any of your study materials, find the smartest kid in the class and ask to borrow his or her study guide. Even better? Get him or her to study with you. Good students love to show off how smart they are. Use that ego to your advantage and let them help you get a better grade by telling you the most important things to know for your test. 

While You're Taking the Test...

Write Down Your Mnemonic Devices

Write down your mnemonic devices on your test as soon as the teacher gives it to you before you forget your acronyms and phrases you created to remember the material.

Once you start testing, you may forget them!

Ask the Teacher for Help

If you're lost while you're testing, then raise your hand and ask the teacher for help if you get stuck on something. Teachers will often lead you in the right direction if you're struggling, especially if you're a student who is typically trying in class. If cramming is your typical behavior, though, you should probably just give it a go on your own!

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Roell, Kelly. "The Right Way to Cram for a Test." ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-to-cram-for-a-test-3212043. Roell, Kelly. (2017, June 9). The Right Way to Cram for a Test. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-cram-for-a-test-3212043 Roell, Kelly. "The Right Way to Cram for a Test." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-cram-for-a-test-3212043 (accessed November 17, 2017).