8 Crucial Tips for Cramming before an Exam

8 Crucial Tips for Cramming before an Exam

These 8 key tips will help you study better and faster for that test you have tomorrow!
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Picture this. It’s the day before a huge test, and you haven’t started studying yet. You look at a clock and mentally calculate the exact amount of hours and minutes until the test to see how much studying you can fit in. You feel the pressure and your hands start to sweat uncontrollably.

If you are anything like me or any normal student, then you know this exact feeling of anxiety before you’re about to cram for a test or exam. It happens to the best of us, no matter how hard we try. As a self-proclaimed “master crammer,” I’m sharing my best tips for cramming so that we can all get through this with as little stress as possible.

1. The Golden Rule of Cramming: DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO STUDY

I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times from teachers, adults, and students, but cramming should only be used as an absolute last resort. So please don’t use excuses like “I work well under pressure,” or “I can only study with a deadline looming over my head.” I know these excuses because I used to use them, but having a methodical, spread out study plan works much more effectively than cramming, even with these tips.

Okay. So now that we know only to use this cramming guide as a last resort, we can get to the real tips to study quickly and effectively.

2. Begin with planning

Before you haphazardly dive into your textbook and write every word that you see, you should begin by making a plan and gauging how long it will take. This quick step will relieve stress that you would feel throughout your studying and will help you study faster and remember the material better.

3. Use, but don’t abuse caffeine

Caffeine is essential for staying alert and focused long when working into or through the night. Without it, you’ll be tired and the studying that you would do won’t be as effective. Find your caffeine of choice, whether it be coffee, tea, soda, gum, or caffeine pills. Try to use as little as possible to get yourself to peak performance, and then follow your plan of attack!

4. Practice problems/exam!!!

When you make your plan, be sure to include practice problems! Before you study, ask your teacher the format of the test, and then search for problems that are similar to the ones described by your professor. This is key because then when the test rolls around, you’ll have practiced problems of a similar style, allowing you to be calmer during the exam. If your test is an essay or short answer instead of problems, then think of possible questions and topics that will be covered. If you’ve got the time, you should write out a response, or at least a few bullet points. This will help you write a quick, concise, and full response when the time comes.

5. Take breaks if you need to

Taking breaks allows your brain to rest, and when you resume studying, you can go faster and more effectively. Some people follow the 50/10 rule, which is working for 50 minutes and then taking a ten-minute break, splitting the studying into digestible 60-minute intervals. Personally, I get into a “groove” when I’m studying and it can go on for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. When I’m in the zone like that, I’ll keep working until I become sluggish, and then take a break for about 15 minutes.

6. Sleep!

Whether it is a small nap or a couple hours of sleep, sleeping remains crucial for brain health. If you don’t sleep at all, then you’ll be worse off than if you had forgone that little bit of studying, and taken a 20-30 minute nap. Sleep refreshes our mental health and separates the late night studying from the day of your exam. When I stay up all night, the days blend together and this ruins my morale going into the exam. Without sleep, I feel as though I have studied for hours on end and then take my exam because that’s exactly what I did. If I separate the two with sleep, then the two periods feel separate, which allows me to feel as though I finished studying, as opposed to just a non-stop sprint through the material.

7. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is key to being able to recall all the information that you’ve studied. When I was a freshman in high school, my teacher told the whole class that the most effective thing to do before a test is have a big glass of water. She said that this increases short and long-term memory by 50%. I know that it has helped me tremendously (whether through a placebo effect or real change), and hopefully it will help you too.

8. Isolate yourself

Studying without distractions helps you get into a rhythm and speed through the material with maximum return on time invested. Distractions do a disservice to the work that you put in while studying. If you can’t be in a quiet room, put in headphones and play white noise to drown out the sounds of other people. I personally choose rain sounds because they keep me calm and do an excellent job of creating a continuous, natural sound while you study.

Okay, so now that we’ve studied as much as we could, we need to go over what you should do before the test.

You should eat a hearty and healthy meal for breakfast or before your exam. Eating will keep your mind focused on the task at hand instead of how hungry you are. When you stay up all night, your body does not get a break from consciousness to slow down your metabolism. While you’re studying, you burn far more calories than if you were asleep, despite the relative inactivity of sitting in one spot.

Another thing to do before the test is to have some final caffeine before it starts. Take the caffeine about an hour before the test so that way it starts affecting you during the test because it takes about an hour give or take for the caffeine to take effect. You don’t want to be falling asleep during your test! When you’re drinking your caffeine, try not to drink so much fluid that you’ll have to go to the bathroom during the test. Many exam proctors do not allow you to leave the room before you’re done with the test, and having to hold in a bathroom trip will add unnecessary distractions while you’re taking the test.

The final tip for before the test is to re-read the notes that you’ve taken. If you highlighted what you think is important to know for the exam, then read those especially. This will help you load up your short-term memory for the test, and will help you rest easy as you wait for your grade because you know that you studied until the very last moment.

Cramming is a nightmare, but it does not have to be the worst, most stressful experience of your life if you follow these tips!

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.
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College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

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Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

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What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

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Body Image Lessons That I Didn't Learn From A Professor

What I realized about body image my freshman year of college

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Girls usually struggle with self image in general. But the game changes when it's time to go to college. When you are constantly surrounded by your peers, you begin to compare all of the little things they do to you. You compare their bodies to yours. You try to figure out what they are doing that you're not. Or vice versa, why they don't have to do anything to look the way they do. But by the end of my first year, I realized that I would never be happy with myself if I kept thinking this way. So I recorded some realizations I had throughout the year that helped me to improve my body image.

My body is, and never will be the same as any other girl... and that's okay

Different sized and shaped strawberries

https://picjumbo.com/strawberries-with-yellow-background/

It can be so easy in college to compare your body to the girls that surround you. Like the one's live with and you see on a daily basis. There is no point in comparing apples to oranges, so why would you compare your body to a girl who was made completely different? So what you can't fit into her party pants, you can rock another pair just as well.

What works for her, might not work for me

Daily Planner

https://kaboompics.com/photo/9447/planners-organizers-in-bed-women-s-home-office

With different body types, comes different food and exercise needs. Some girls don't need to work out or eat healthy to keep a slim frame. Some girls are naturally muscular. Your routine needs to be catered to you, and there is no need to analyze what someone else eats or does to try to attain their stature. You have to do what feels right for YOUR body to have a good self image.

Don't spend too much time on istagram

https://stocksnap.io/photo/JUC6R3PPLE

Obviously social media effects our body image because of how easily and frequently photos are edited and then presented for the most likes. So if there is a certain account that always makes you feel bad when you see their content, unfollow, and take that aspect out of your life. However, because social media is unavoidable you can't completely escape all the provoking images. So when scrolling, think positively about those who's pictures you see, don't compare, and be aware of the previous lessons.

It's okay for your body to fluctuate

https://pixabay.com/photos/scale-diet-fat-health-tape-weight-403585/

The weight and look of your body can easily fluctuate, It's just natural. And in the same way your life fluctuates, your body may follow along and thats not a big deal! In exam season, there might not be enough time to go to the gym everyday. Or during the holidays there might be an increase of indulgence in treats. But its all okay as long as your getting things done or enjoying life. The only time it becomes an issue if the fluctuations turn unhealthy.

Cut out the negativity

https://snap-photos.s3.amazonaws.com/img-thumbs/960w/4JS6X4XCW1.jpg

If a friend is constantly complaining to you about their body, it can trigger distress in you, and set you back. So if someone else's body image issues are interfering with you mentally, you need to call them out on their B.S. or stop allowing them say those things in front of you.

Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in

https://cdn.cliqueinc.com/cache/posts/216319/-2084176-1487185433.700x0c.jpg

If you wear things that you feel comfortable in, then you wont constantly be thinking about how your stomach, legs, or arms look throughout the day. Wear something that you are confident in, even if it means wearing leggings every day of the week!

I'm not a little kid anymore, therefore my body is not going to look like one

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Curves and changes that come after high school can take anyone by surprise, but it's supposed to happen. You can't really be mad at biology...you can only find the beauty in it.

Everyone has their own insecurities

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Even if someone has your ideal body, odds are they still despise theirs. I have met friends in college that are stick skinny, yet are self conscious about it. I know curvy girls that are very insecure. And even an "average" body type has a thousand things that they nit-pick about themselves. No one has their dream body and never will, which is why I had to learn to love the little things about mine.

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