Lesson Plan

How to Cram for a Test (Exam)

From reading the title, you are probably thinking, “spark up the coffee pot and get out the caffeine pills!” But nothing could be further from the right way to cram for an exam.
Jeremy K.
New York Public Library
New York, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, World Languages, English Language Learning, Health & Wellness

We are going to leave reality for a minute and pretend you have all the time you need to prepare, that you have been paying attention all semester, and that all you need is one more night or two of burning that important info onto your brain. So, given these things, what is the first thing you need to do to get ready for your cram session?

English Language Arts
Social Studies
World Languages
English Language Learning
Health & Wellness
Grades 10 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Take a nap!

Activity: Reading

No, I am not kidding. Your brain functions better when it is rested. You will retain more if you take a 2-hour nap and then study for 4 or 6 hours, than you would if you started out tired and tried to cram for 8 hours. And if your exam is at 8am, do not stay up all night and figure you will go to bed after you take the test. Once again, your brain functions better when it is rested. Even if you have to “embellish” on some answers, you will think of better embellishments if your mind is awake.

2 After you nap, eat.

Activity: Reading

Nothing is worse than just getting down to studying and realizing your hungry and you have to make a MickeyD’s run. It takes time away from your cram session, and it breaks down the momentum you just got into when you started studying. Plus, fast food and “garbage” snacks aren’t brain food. Try eating something good for you like a sandwich and some fruit. A real meal will sustain you through the roughest of cram sessions. 

3 Next, set up your environment to study, not to party.

Activity: Reading

Turn off the TV. If you play a CD for noise, try putting in something that is all instrumental, so that the songs words do not distract you into singing along. If being warm and comfortable makes you sleepy…try turning the AC down a little. Being a bit chilly is a great way to keep yourself awake. 

4 Get all the tools you will need at the beginning.

Activity: Reading

If you are studying for two tests…get all the books, folders, notes, papers, highlighters, flash cards, etc. you will need and set yourself up a study station. That way everything is at your fingertips and you can not use any excuses that you do not have the right books or notes as a reason to become demotivated and stop studying!

5 Now you can get down to studying

Activity: Reading

Remember, the more time your brain sees something, the more likely you are to remember it. So if you read something, write in on your notes or on flash cards, then read the notes or study the flash cards even once…well that is three times your brain has seen the information and you can find how to create educational android apps are that much closer to remembering it for your test.