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How to Cram for an Exam - The 24 Hour Plan

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How to Organize Your Notes Before an Exam

You pop out of bed in the morning; and suddenly, it occurs to you that your exam is tomorrow and you haven't even opened your book or looked at your notes. As you get ready for the school day, the only thought that comes to mind is, "I'm screwed." You know you should have studied. You meant to; but, this came up and that came up; and now, here you are, like a surfer without a board about to be ambushed by a huge wave.

Relax; go to your classes and concentrate the best you can. If you have taken good notes, it won't be as bad as it seems. If your notes aren't that great; or, if you haven't taken any at all, you have a whole lot to do in a short period of time. Don't panic. Sometime throughout the day, ask a classmate if you can copy their notes; or, ask your teacher if he or she has any study material you can use. Check the school library or your local library to find out if they have any video or audio tapes on the subject. These may dramatically increase the chances of your grade increasing especially if you are a visual or audio learner. Visual learners retain more information when they see, visualize, or watch their lesson being performed. Audio learners retain more information when they hear their lesson being spoken, or being played from a recording.

What Are the Steps to Study for an Exam

If you are starting out with no tapes and no notes, make sure you bring your book home; and then, do this:

  • Scan pages for keywords, highlight them and the surrounding sentence or two. Don't overdo it or you will have too much to try to squeeze in. Use this in place of notes.
  • When you have completed the step above or you have notes already, go to a place where you feel comfortable to study in and surround yourself with things that make you comfortable. For example, if you usually have a water or soda while you're studying, have one there. Once you begin, limit yourself to as few interruptions as possible.
  • Read through your notes and try to associate them with something outside of the textbook.
  • After you have gone through everything making associations along the way, eat something, and set your alarm for 1 hour from that time and try to take a nap, if at all possible. While you are sleeping, your brain will work to retain the information you just studied. The links below explain how this works.

  • When you get up, work on something that you won't need to remember, (something other than the exam materials), do this or something other than your exam materials until two hours before you plan on going to bed. Make sure you allow yourself at least six to eight hours to sleep for the night.
  • Begin studying your notes two hours before bedtime.
  • After you have gone through your notes a few times, look through the book again for anything that may seem important. If you come across anything, highlight it.
  • Go through your notes one last time before you go to sleep. Don't worry you will be processing everything you just studied in your sleep.

How to Choose the Answer Most Likely to Be Correct in Multiple Choice Questions

If the exam has multiple choice questions on it, read through A, B, C, and D, for example, and if you don't know what the answer is, look for answers that you know it is not. Watch for words like "always," or "never." Analyze whether or not it is possible for "the question's answer" to occur always or never. Sometimes the answer will have the definition to one of the words in the question; therefore, if you read through all the answers and none of them jump out at you as the correct answer, look for main words in the question and then look to the answers for one that will define that word. For example, the question may have the word "incised" in it and after reading through all the answers only one has "cut into" in it, this might be the best choice when you're lost for the correct answer.

Eliminate any answer that you are sure it is not; and then, concentrate on the remaining answers. If you have more than one option left to choose from, check to see if any are "all of the above" or "none of the above"; and, read carefully to see which of the two you can eliminate; and, if after you have done all this you still don't know the answer, and if B is one of the options you have left, choose B. While the correct answer will not always be B. Some studies have shown that the correct answer follows the B more often than any other letter.

If you have more time to study, repeat the above process every day to retain even more of your lessons.

Good Luck! And, don't wait til the last minute next time.


H Lax (author) on January 28, 2015:

Thanks Viney. it's a pleasure to meet you too.

Mark on January 12, 2015:

seriously girl, you are talented!!! i'm tnnkiihg maybe we'll have to schedule a trip to meet up for some picture taking. my boys are adorable, and i think you could work some magic to get some good shots of them and i miss you, so yes, we need to make this happen!

Rochelle on January 05, 2015:

Hahaha! You are famous! And I've aalcutly got a draft started for a entry just about you two, since we had quite a few fun adventures together I'll e-mail ya when I get a chance to post it. And believe it or not I'm almost half-way through the book!! I was a bit nervous at first about having enough time (especially when I saw the size of that thing!), but I think it's going to work out. Yay!

Viney on January 05, 2015:

What a pleausre to meet someone who thinks so clearly

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H Lax (author) on October 27, 2012:


Trevor from Illinois on October 27, 2012:

I can definitely do the sleeping part :)

H Lax (author) on October 26, 2012: really used to work for me....just make sure to study then sleep and later study then sleep again.!

Trevor from Illinois on October 26, 2012:

I'm gonna make it my reason now :) and thanks!

H Lax (author) on October 26, 2012:

Oh musicman, that wasn't a reason for you to wait until! Good Luck, Get some sleep! LOL

Trevor from Illinois on October 26, 2012:

This is awesome! I'm definitely going to try this Tuesday!

H Lax (author) on October 25, 2012:

I learned about how your brain processes what you study while you're asleep about ten years back when I returned to college. It worked really well for me to study right before napping. I hope if anyone tries it, it will work for them.

Dianna Mendez on October 25, 2012:

Honey, this is really good information to have. I find students who first enter college, tend to cram for their exams. They do much better if they have taken notes along the way, as you mentioned here.

H Lax (author) on October 24, 2012:

Thanks for reading stormy, I would love to be a student again. I loved school. Hey, it's never too late to go back, and , even if you need to take a nap in class, at least now we know that we're still learning while we're sleeping.

Ethan Blaze on October 24, 2012:

Great Article! This brings memories back when I was in school. Reading this hub made me want to go through school again and see if i couldn't do better. :D

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