How to revise for a last minute exam

How to revise for a last minute exam
How to revise for a last minute exam

Your exam will take place tomorrow and you have not yet entered your lessons! Do not panic. All may not be lost. Revising at the last moment does not promise you an 18/20, but it is still possible to save the furniture and not end up with a 0/20. Prepare to have a very long night!


Part 1 of 2: Prepare for the exam

Cram for a Test Step 1

Step 1. Take notes

If you only have a few hours to revise, it is essential that your notes are clear and well centered. Take notes in the best possible way during class.

  • Define what you need to study. If your teacher has explained what will fall on the exam, take advantage of it. He's probably talked about the topics that are important to him and now is the time to ask him questions (that said, if you have to revise at the last moment, you probably have too many questions for him). If your teacher has given you a list of points to review, use it! These points will be useful for organizing your revisions and not revising topics that will not fall on the exam. He must have mentioned some helpful tips for passing the exam.
  • Take out your notes. Collect and sort all your courses, make a list of everything you need to do. From this list, you will be able to organize yourself. Assuming that you have taken all of the courses, you should have sufficient grades to start reviewing. If you don't have any notes, ask for your colleagues' notes and make photocopies urgently. There are also books that summarize the entire curriculum for your class. It can be found everywhere, you won't have any trouble getting it. The advantage of taking notes in class is that they cover everything your teacher considers important. It is therefore a most precious help.
Cram for a Test Step 2

Step 2. Review the important concepts

As you read your notes, find important definitions, important concepts. Sort out what is important and what is not. Memorizing large lessons calls on your synthesis skills as much as your memory. If you do not yet know these concepts by heart, write them down on a separate sheet of paper or on card index cards, A5 format. This will help you identify what you need to know, and at the end of the day you will have a nice, handy packet of review sheets. Take cardboard index cards or normal white sheets with small or large squares in A5 or A6 format, according to your desires and your writing comfort.

  • Copying and writing is an integral part of the review process. It activates the memory. If you have a more visual memory (65% of the population), this rewriting step will help you a lot. If you have a rather auditory memory (30% of the population), it would also be good to pronounce aloud what you are copying out.
  • If you have a little time, try to copy your cards several times. It may seem unnecessary, but it is not, especially if you want to memorize facts and information. If, on the other hand, you want to improve your math skills, for example equations, exercises, do and redo the exercises. Copying will not be as useful.
Cram for a Test Step 3

Step 3. Study Effectively

Obviously, you won't have time to go over everything. Concentrate on the topics that you are sure will fall on the exam. To make a schedule of revisions consistent with the time you have left, you will have to define your priorities.

  • Take the key topics. Look through your book and your notes to spot repeating themes in your book. Look at the sections of your book, the titles and read these sections effectively, jot down any important new information. Ditch the details. You don't have to copy everything your book explains, but rather select the main ideas, those that will logically fall under consideration.
  • Look at the titles, introductions and conclusions of the chapters in your book. The first page, in general, is a good introduction and introduces the key points of the topic. The last few pages, on the other hand, often consist of a conclusion and summarize the chapter well and also recap the important points. In the case of a mathematics textbook, there is often a list of important equations at the end of the chapter.
  • There may also be “mock exam” type exercises at the end of the chapter and their solutions at the end of the manual. Consider them keenly. You should now have gone through all the material necessary for your revisions. You should have skimmed over everything you need to review by now. Put down on paper, as a list, the topics covered and your approach to responding to them, one by one.
Cram for a Test Step 4

Step 4. Take a test

A sheet of paper, an eraser and a good memory. Try to rewrite all that information you wrote down, but this time without looking at your cards, quickly test yourself and assess your results. This step will take some time, because we're talking about rewriting everything you need to know here. This should tell you which topics you need to work on more.

  • Reread your cards. Read them aloud. And start the test again. When you feel that you have mastered a topic, eliminate it from your list of topics to review and move on to the next one. If you have any questions or doubts, check your lessons, now is the time.
  • Test yourself again. If your teacher gave you a mock exam, take it again. Otherwise, take the exams suggested at the end of the chapter of your book. Do only the questions that relate to the topics you have selected as most important. Don't spend too much time on each question. Don't get stuck on one point. Write it down to learn more about it later.
  • Give yourself notes. Be honest with yourself. It is not a question of veiling one's face, nor of inflating one's ego, but of revising usefully. If you answered some questions incorrectly, go back to your files. Perhaps, it would be useful to redo this or that sheet to clarify it, if you have new information or new clarifications that help you.
Cram for a Test Step 5

Step 5. Find Good Methods

If nothing fits your mind, or if this review strategy isn't working for you, try other memorization techniques. Memory is an organ that is not easily forgotten. The information is stored in small boxes. If you can't remember something, it's probably because it was improperly stored, the click to open the box didn't happen, or you mis-noted the location. storage. There are some memorization techniques that can be helpful so that you don't overload your memory with tons of new, late-breaking information.

  • Use mnemonic devices. Do you remember the famous "but where is the ornicar?" », Mnemonic sentence allowing to remember the conjunctions of coordination in French. Use this medium to memorize lists. Make up an acronym (AIDS, NATO, VISA, etc.). Use a rhyme. It consists of creating rhymes between words or concepts that must be remembered. Rhyme is one of the oldest mnemonic tricks. Build a complete sentence ("My Old Man You Threw Me On A New Planet" helps remember the order of the planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, all like the famous “but where is ornicar?”).
  • Use keywords from which other information is suspended. For example, a rhyme, a place that reminds you of something else, a familiar image or a story that you could make up that would remind you of what you want to memorize. Store one image to store another.
  • Organize your thoughts under global labels. For example, if you are studying finance, group terms like stocks, bonds, funds, etc. under the heading “financial securities” and define exactly what this category means. Organize your ideas under concepts. If you don't understand the meaning of these concepts, your images will fade away.
Cram for a Test Step 6

Step 6. Pack up your things and go to sleep

It's true that sometimes you don't have time to sleep, but if you have the chance, get as much sleep as you can before your exam. It is even better to study, sleep, and study again when you wake up if possible. If you are having a sleepless night you will be very tired and inevitably you will make a lot of careless mistakes during the exam.

Studies show that lack of sleep affects memory performance. Not only will this not be efficient, but your memory will have a much harder time memorizing new information at the last minute if you are sleep deprived. Concentrate on revisions that night and go to bed early

Part 2 of 2: What to do on exam day

Cram for a Test Step 7

Step 1. Eat a healthy, light breakfast about an hour before the exam

Avoid eating only carbohydrates (white bread) and prefer a full meal, rich in protein (eggs) or omega-3 fatty acids (salmon), fiber (wholegrain bread, whole grains) or fruit.

Certain food products help increase brain function and memory longevity, for example: blueberries, salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, pomegranate juice, green tea and dark chocolate. Eating a healthy breakfast helps you to be more focused during the exam and to stay focused longer, it is the key part of a good diet before an exam. Try to include at least one or two of these foods in your breakfast

Cram for a Test Step 8

Step 2. Allow a few minutes to review everything

In the car or on the bus with a friend. Get together one hour before the start of the exam and take turns asking questions on the main topics. That way, it will all be fresh on your mind. If you study with classmates, be careful not to spend your time chatting!

Cram for a Test Step 9

Step 3. Take your cards one last time

Just before entering the examination room, take all the cards one by one and read them again, even if you think you have memorized them. The knowledge will be fresh and your brain will be at the top of its efficiency for the exam. If you feel that you haven't yet memorized something that is important to you, copy the sentence six or seven times in a row. This must be enough to keep it in mind.

Cram for a Test Step 10

Step 4. Make the right choices

Take an idea, a definition, a particular passage that you think is most important and that you really have to remember and that you are bound to have to use. Make sure you don't take too long definition. Gaze at the sentence for at least 1 to 2 minutes. Concentrate well. Read it aloud. Reread it carefully. Then, check if you memorized the sentence while writing it.

Cram for a Test Step 11

Step 5. Find the exam room relatively early

Go to the bathroom before the exam, so that you are not embarrassed and lose concentration. Enter the room and make yourself comfortable at least 5 minutes before the exam begins. Get comfortable. Prepare your things. Breathe deeply. Be optimistic.


  • If you have trouble staying attentive during your exams, but don't have time to sleep, eat foods that naturally provide you with energy, like an apple or a banana. It's much better than caffeine or sugary drinks, and you won't suffer from blackouts afterwards.
  • Eliminate any distractions as much as possible. If you don't need a computer to study, then make sure you sit away from your computer. If your revisions are primarily on your computer, temporarily shut down Internet service before you even begin. However, if you are doing research on the Internet, avoid going surfing on your various personal boxes and wasting time.
  • Obviously, if you are reading this article, you are the type to consistently postpone your revisions at the very last minute. Stop reading these articles and actually review! Good luck !
  • Read aloud. Verbal memorization is often a great way to learn in a hurry, much more effective than reading quietly.
  • Drinking a lot of water helps you to think and above all it hydrates you. Remember, caffeine is a diuretic. If you've been drinking whole coffees of coffee to help you hold out, it's high time to rehydrate.
  • Remember to take short, but frequent breaks during your reviews. Breaks help you stay alert and will keep you from exhaustion. Take a break of about 10 minutes every hour.
  • If your exam is the next day, take at least 30 minutes in the evening to study before bed, and 15 minutes in the morning of the exam, if you have time, to reassure yourself and refresh your knowledge.
  • Right before the exam, try to exercise a little. Run up the stairs or hop in place. Exercise keeps the blood flowing and it relaxes you. It also increases your attention.
  • Remember to take a bottle of water in the examination room, so that you can refresh yourself and hydrate yourself. Also take in a highlighter and be sure to highlight the important parts of the instruction, so as not to go off topic. For example, if the instruction says "Calculate to 2 decimal places the solution to the following equations". You highlight “to 2 decimal places” so that you will remember to do so for all questions on this page, not just the first equation.
  • The smell of cinnamon can help you focus. Buy cinnamon gum for extra focus.
  • If you find it more effective, review with another person taking the same exam, taking turns asking questions. Some people think that you can concentrate best when you are alone, so it's up to you to see what works best for you.


  • Even if you pass your test, don't expect to remember everything you ate two or three days later. You usually learn best when you do it gradually. Last minute revisions are good for short-term memorization. If you were to remember your lessons over time (math equations are a good example), you should learn them seriously after completing the exam.
  • A sleepless night and a high intake of caffeine are very bad for your health and should be avoided as much as possible. Lack of sleep can also slow down your reaction time, think twice, if you want to get behind the wheel to get to the exam, if you haven't or hardly had any sleep.
  • Resist the temptation to cheat. The 10/20 you got is better than the 18/20 from someone who cheated. Even if you're not the type to feel guilty after the fact, you still take a huge risk. Teachers don't like cheaters at all and if they catch your hand in the bag, the consequences can go very far, well beyond a zero on the exam. They will start grading you much more severely on the next exam than other students, and then if you ever need a letter of recommendation from a professor, they will probably refuse to give it to you or they will certainly mention this incident.

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