How to master the last-minute study
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How to master the last-minute study

You wake up and realise your exam is in a couple of days. You freak out and start to feel overwhelmed by thoughts of not being able to pass.

It’s a situation that resonates with many because so many of us experienced the struggle. We’ve all known lack of time at one point or another, and the quickest solution seems to be to cram as much in as possible and hopefully pass the test…

Based on a North American study, it’s estimated that over 70 percent of students exhibit procrastination.

It’s not impossible to swot up at the last minute, but cramming at the eleventh hour is certainly not advisable and shouldn’t be made a habit. To offer some support, here are a few ways you can master the last minute study.

Mix up your study environment

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A cosy cafe setting might suit you if you need your caffeine fix while cramming for an exam. Pic: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

A different environment can actually make studying much more effective. Putting yourself in a location where other people are also hard at work can really motivate you to study better.

Nevertheless, there are various factors that should be taken into consideration before selecting the best location.

Settle on a place with the least distractions, like the campus library. If you prefer a setting in close proximity to caffeine, hit up your favourite café and find yourself a cosy study spot.

Remember that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, so be sure to choose your location wisely! Sure, you can always opt for your bedroom, but it is crunch time and there’s a possibility you could be studying late into the night, so it’s best to choose a place where you can eliminate the distraction of sleep.

Skip the textbooks

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It might be better to skip the textbooks and rely on your classroom notes instead. Pic: iTref/Shutterstock

The first thing people reach for when it comes to studying is the textbook.

But time is now limited and browsing through chapters and chapters of words isn’t going to help. Skip the textbooks and focus on the class notes or slides prepared by your teacher.

If the slides are predominantly text, then its best to examine them in depth, grasping the organisational structure and creating your own summarised outline. If the slides are mainly visual, you should still create an outline to identify each visual. Illustrations have a bigger impact on our memory compared to strings of words.

Nonetheless, if you are sure there will be textbook related questions in the test, there’s most likely a summary at the end of each chapter that you can read up on.

Resist the urge to use social media

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Time to put those phones down! Social media can be a huge distraction. Pic: pathdoc/Shutterstock

Sure, it would be great to take a break and give your brain a breather from all the information. But your ‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram can wait.

If you need an external help from these unnecessary distractions, there’s an app called SelfControl that will just do the trick. The app is simple to use and helps block social media apps on your smartphone. A time limit can be set according to how long your period of study.

Organise your time

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Plan your day to maximise your time. Pic: Ulf Wittrock/Shutterstock

The best way to organise your time is to plan it in an hourly format.

You might think that this will be a big waste of time, but be reminded that failure to plan is planning to fail.

Organising your time will contribute greatly to studying at the last minute because if you’re in a constantly panic-ridden state it will cause you to further procrastinate.

Let’s say there’s three days left ‘til judgment day – the first should be focused on familiarising yourself with the study material.

Day two should consist of active learning which can be done through making a list, or better yet a mind map.

On the final day, you may give yourself a simple test to make sure the information is retained and re-read the list as many times as possible.

Read it out loud

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Reading out loud makes it easier to remember. Pic: Simone van den Berg/Shutterstock

As a matter of fact, shout, sing or even rap – as long as you open your mouth!

By studying out loud, it’s easier to retain information as your brain gives you three stimuli (say, hear, and read) instead of one to recall the material.

As you talk, your retention builds up because you’re forced to read the material out loud.

So, it would be better if you are not just studying in your head, study aloud and avoid public areas if you can. You wouldn’t want to be bugging people around you.

Don’t Panic

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A cup of your favourite drink could help to calm your pre-exam jitters. Pic: eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock

Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to calm yourself down and study on, because this isn’t the time to freak out. Your emotions are a form of distraction when you study.

Simply take deep, slow breaths and focus on the necessary task.

If you’re studying but still feeling stressed, give yourself a short break before coming back to it.

Your brain needs to be relaxed – especially when you have to load up on information in a short amount of time.

Have a good night’s sleep

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A good night’s rest is the best way to rejuvenate your mind. Pic: Volha_R/Shutterstock

You really should try to get a good night’s rest the eve before judgment day… it’s not wise for you to sacrifice sleep in order to study, because studies have shown that getting six hours’ sleep can help you memorise more.

Lack of sleep can also cause you to perform terribly in pressurised situations. You may be tempted to forgo sleep to finish the last few chapters but any sleep you get is a vital part of succeeding the test. Research suggests that sleeping after studying helps you remember more.

So, lay off the caffeine before going to bed and try to think peaceful thoughts…anything to keep your mind off the test!

The tips above aren’t necessarily the best ways to study, but could be the light at the end of the tunnel when you don’t have sufficient time to study.

Ideally, you really should plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to revise, starting right after the initial class or lecture! It’s also beneficial for you to eat well, exercise, and get lots of sleep. So, if you’re ever faced with this type of situation, remember to keep calm and study on.

By Jillian Cheong from iPrice group

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