How to Cram for a Test

Tips to Help You Cram for a Test

Students preparing for a test
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Cramming for a Test

Everyone has had to cram for a test at some point. Cramming involves studying really intensively over a short period of time - often overnight or a period of just a few hours. It's not the best way to study and should never really be your first choice when it comes to test preparation. But as we've all learned at one point or another, it's sometimes the only option. If you need to cram for a test, you should try to develop some sort of strategy to enhance your efforts and improve your results.

The following tips will help you craft a strategy that works for your learning style and time frame.

Preparing to Cram for a Test

  • Find a study space that is free of distractions and quiet enough to cram for a test.
  • Gather everything you need to cram for the test and place it in your study space.
  • Try to limit distractions by shutting off your cell phone or making a vow not to check your email or social networks during your study session.
  • Make a list of exactly what you need to study, putting the highest priority items at the top of the list.
  • Decide what time you want to start cramming for the test and set an approximate time to finish. Try to allow yourself a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of studying.

Question Strategies

  • Look for questions at the end of each chapter in your textbook. Professors sometimes pull test questions straight from these pages.
  • If you think the test may be essay-based, take some time to consider what the questions may be about. Then, jot down at least one brief outline for every suspected question.
  • If you know the test will be filled with objective questions (i.e. questions with only one answer), you objective question strategies like flashcards and vocabulary memorization to study for the test.

Reading Strategies

  • Scan any material that you need to read as quickly as possible. It is better to focus on recall than reading when you're forced to cram for a test. (Find out how to read a lot of dry text quickly.
  • Take notes about important points while you read to absorb key concepts.
  • Review what you have learned when you've finished reading. Look at your reading notes, chapter summaries in your textbook, and anything else that will help you reflect on key concepts.

Supplemental Study Strategies

  • Review your lecture notes. Professors almost always test students on material that has been covered in class lectures.
  • Create and use flashcards if you need to quickly memorize vocabulary words, definitions, important names, dates, or other relevant materials. You can create your own flashcards online at FlashcardExchange or Flashcard Machine.
  • Employ every memorization trick you know: repeat information, rewrite information, make information into rhymes, develop acronyms, etc.

Other Study Strategies

  • Try cramming for the test with someone else in your class. Having a study partner makes it easier to get through a lot of material quickly.
  • Try to test yourself in a final review session when you've finished cramming for the test. You can use a practice test that your professor gave you or create your own practice test.
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Your Citation
Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Cram for a Test." ThoughtCo, Jan. 31, 2016, Schweitzer, Karen. (2016, January 31). How to Cram for a Test. Retrieved from Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Cram for a Test." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 18, 2017).