One key effective students master during a cram session is efficiency. The goal of each cram session is to get the right points from your notes, into your head, then onto the paper in as little time as possible. Avoiding these 5 time-wasters will help improve that efficiency.
Cram Session Time-Waster #1: Re-reading the chapter
This time-waster is the Jersey Shore of time-wasters: it seems like a good idea at first, but just wastes your time and leaves you feeling dumber than when you started.
Most students fall into this trap at some point. I sure have.
The problem is that books are exhaustive, but tests are specific. Your teachers/profs don’t care if you know everything in the book – most of them don’t either! They only care if you know the most important things in the book, and that’s what lectures and your notes are for. Books are good to reference during an exam cram, but lose time by re-learning all that info.
Cram Session Time-Waster #2: Thinking about the material silently
Thinking is of the utmost importance. But keeping it in your head won’t help on the test.
Think about it. Your test is going to ask for those thoughts on paper. If you’ve never put them on paper, how can you say that you’ve really studied?
Think outloud. Think in writing. Think in singing. Think in pictures. Think in charts. Think in timelines. Think in sentences.
But don’t just think in thoughts. It feels like studying, but takes more time than its worth.
Cram Session Time-Waster #3: Studying all the way up to the Test
At some point you have to stop studying. Make that point be before you walk into your class room.
How is that a time-waster, you ask? Isn’t studying right up to the test making the most of my time?
Nope. Your brain needs to decompress a little bit. Stressed-out students can’t access problem-solving skills as easily, thus they tank tests they should ace. Test taking is often as much about knowing the material as it is about solving problems.
Study hard, then quit before getting to class. The best use of time is to shut down and relax. These last 10 minutes before a test may be the only time when Angry Birds is a better use of time.
Cram Session Time-Waster #4: Reading someone else’s study guide
Okay, this isn’t a bad thing to do. It’s just not a great use of your time.
I’m sure Jimmy Einstein really is brilliant. And I’m sure his study guide is great. He may have an IQ of 180. He may have never missed a question in class. He may have already won a Nobel Prize, and have invented the internet, and discovered that Pluto wasn’t a planet. Congratulations, Jimmy.
But here’s the problem: Jimmy made Jimmy’s study guide.
Making and reading your own study guide is infinitely more helpful than reading someone else’s. Don’t buy into the time-wasting hype of the class genius’s study guide.
Cram Session Time-Waster #5: Staying up all night
Your brain is amazing. Let it do the work for you while you sleep.
While you dream about blue kangaroos, flying, and forgetting where you put your car keys (at least that’s what I dream about), your brain consolidates info and files all that cramming into the right folders. It’s like the little secretary in your brain goes in and cleans up the mess you made while you sleep.
That little secretary in your head is worth a lot more than the extra 3 hours of cramming you were planning. Call in the secretary, and let her do her work