It’s definitely not recommended to cram for a major examination just the night before. But, what if…? To be honest, I’ve been guilty of procrastination myself, and have acquired some experience in certain shortcuts that make the most of last-minute revision. Here are some pro tips, because you never know when you, too, might be in this situation.
First and foremost, DON’T burn the midnight oil. All the overnight bombardment of information into your brain would be for naught without sufficient sleep. Sleep is most important as it helps your brain process and consolidate information, so that you can recall and understand whatever material you did manage to cram in better. Furthermore, it helps you to stay alert during the examination the next day and avoid wasting time catching snatches of micro-sleep when you should be writing for marks instead.
Speed reading. It’s a skill to browse through revision notes and take in the important points of information, while discerning which chunks are less important. Well, you know, every school tends to pad their notes with redundant information. If “be prepared” is the Scouts’ motto, “be over-prepared” is the schools’. Processing and understanding the important bits will equip you with the ability to apply them in examinations.
Once you’ve figured out the main points, take the time to memorise them. After all, it’s inefficient trying to remember thousands of words when only a few carefully-chosen ones would do. A straight regurgitation of memorised notes is hardly the point of the exam, anyway. One method is to form acronyms around the key ideas of a topic. For example, the key principles of governance are… ORAL: Opportunities. Relevance. Anticipating changes. Leadership. During the examination it’s simply just elaborating on these memorised factors in answer to the question, adapting as required. Boom! Being able to ‘dehydrate’ and ‘re-hydrate’ information at will is what makes last-minute study pay off.
If there’s sill time available, summarize all your study material on post-it (TM) notes. Use as few words as possible to fill each slightly sticky sheet with just a header and the relevant associated keywords. Flipping through these notes before the examination stimulates reminders of key concepts, simply by looking at the keywords. Besides, it’s better than just sitting around wallowing in worry while waiting for the exam hall doors to open.
Not a guarantee to ace your examination if you follow these tips, because it is last-minute studying after all. But really helpful in salvaging your examination from utter and abject failure, we hope. Good luck!