Study for an Exam in 2 to 4 Days

How to Get Organized for an Upcoming Exam

Exhausted Girl with Homework
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Studying for an exam is a piece of cake, even if you only have a few days to prepare. That's plenty of time, considering many people think studying for an exam involves cramming minutes before the exam starts. By increasing the number of days you have to study, you decrease the actual studying time you have to put in per session, which is perfect if you have trouble staying focused when you're studying for an exam.

No worries — it's entirely possible to study for an exam in just a handful of days. What you need is a plan. Here's how to build one.

Step One: Ask, Organize, and Review

In School:

  1. Ask your teacher what type of exam it will be. Multiple choice? Essay? The type of exam will make a huge difference in how you prepare because your level of content knowledge needs to be greater with an essay exam. 
  2. Ask your teacher for a review sheet or test guide if he or she has not already given you one. The review sheet will tell you all of the major things on which you will be tested. If you don't have this, you may end up studying for things you don't need to know for the test. 
  3. Get a study partner set up for tomorrow night if possible—even via phone or Facetime or Skype. It helps to have someone on your team who can keep you honest. 
  4. Take home your notes, old quizzes, textbook, assignments, and handouts from the unit being tested.

At Home:

  1. Organize your notes. Rewrite or type them up so you can actually read what you've written. Organize your handouts according to dates. Make note of anything you're missing. (Where's the vocab quiz from chapter 2?)
  2. Review the material you have. Go through the review sheet to find out what you're supposed to know. Read through your quizzes, handouts, and notes, highlighting anything you'll be tested on. Go through your book's chapters, rereading sections that were confusing to you, unclear, or not memorable. Ask yourself the questions from the back of each chapter covered by the exam.
  3. If you don't already have them, make flashcards with a question, term, or vocabulary word on the front of the card, and the answer on the back.
  4. Stay focused!

Step 2: Memorize and Quiz

In School:

  1. Clarify anything you didn't totally understand with your teacher. Ask for missing items (that vocab quiz from chapter 2).
  2. Teachers often review the day before an exam, so if he or she is reviewing, pay close attention and write down anything you didn't read the night before. If the teacher mentions it today, it's on the exam, guaranteed!
  3. Throughout the day, pull your flashcards out and ask yourself questions (when you're waiting for class to start, at lunch, during study hall, etc.).
  4. Confirm study date with a friend for this evening.

At Home:

  1. Set a timer for 45 minutes, and memorize everything on the review sheet that you don't already know using mnemonic devices like acronyms or singing a song. Take a five-minute break when the timer goes off, and get started again for another 45 minutes. Repeat until your study partner arrives.
  2. Quiz. When your study partner arrives (or your mom finally concedes to quizzing you), take turns asking possible exam questions to each other. Make sure each of you has a turn asking and answering because you'll learn the material best by doing both.

How Many Days?

If you have more than a day or two, you can stretch out and repeat Step 2 over the course of several days. Good luck!