Cramming can be an effective last-minute technique but only for small volumes of information for a short period of time.
Too much cramming stupefies long-term memory (where well learned memory lives), and it can set you up for anxiety attacks and mind blanks in the exam. If you must, however, cram, do so in 5 to 10-minute blocks by reading materials out loud and then rephrasing what you’re learning in your own words. Then take a 1 to 2-minute break to allow the information you’re learning to be processed in your brain. Repeat this process until you’re confident with the materials, and move to them next item to be learned.
When you start to feel less anxious, slowly increase the length of your cramming sessions to 30 minutes blocks, with a 5 to 10-minute break in between each 30-minute session.
Get at least 4 hours of sleep so that your learnings can anchor in long-term memory, and so you can function efficiently during the exam. Supplement your diet with essential amino acids to maximise the effectiveness of cramming sessions.
You are likely to better remember a narrow range of materials that have been covered in depth when cramming before an exam. Therefore, look at the last 5 exam papers and identify the areas that are heavily examined, and concentrate on these sections of the course.
Work through 2 to 3 past examination papers – but only those ones that you have fully worked solutions to.
Keep a positive attitude. It’s easier to study when you are relaxed than when you’re stressed out.
Read the chapter summaries in your text book – they usually do a great job at summarising the important points. If there are no chapter summaries, skim through the text and jot down key ideas.
You’ll need plenty of ‘brain food’ to keep you going while you’re cramming. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, and instead, opt for foods that have a low glycaemic index and keep you going over a longer period of time. Examples include porridge, muesli, wholegrain bread, brown rice, fruits and non-starchy vegetables.