It is tough when your back is up against the wall and you have a short time to get ready for an exam. The pressure is on and success depends on how well you are able to prepare. Take a deep breath and make a study plan. Understand that it is time to get intensive but if you can devote what time you have left to focused step-driven study, you may find success on your test.
Chart a timetable of available study time. Look at the time you have available and what your outside responsibilities are. Calculate the number of hours you will have available to study. Chunk out study periods of a minimum of two hours at a time. Longer periods can get too tiring so be careful of this. Take breaks. Without breaks you may lose focus and not learn as much as you think you might in long cram sessions.
Review prior course materials and focus on what you know. If you are cramming for an exam it is not likely that you will be able to digest and learn a large amount of new material. It is best to start by looking over any old exams, study guides passed out and lecture notes. Review these for trends of topics and subjects that are talked about frequently. Focus on getting those topics covered first.
Write down subjects and topics that you are unfamiliar with. Learning new material will be the toughest task in a short amount of time. Take the topics list and if possible review your course materials to try to gain an idea over which topics might be tested on. Typically these are ones that have the largest amount of coverage in your text. Don't spend a lot of time on text readings that are small compared to larger ones. Make a calculated decision about which to study.
Study in a good environment. If possible leave home and head to a library or place that fewer distractions. Do not try to study with the TV on or with music blaring. Sit in a straight chair and never have a study session. Even if you have studied like this before, you are now on an intensified deadline that requires intense measures for success.
Employ study techniques such as repetition, flash cards and mnemonics. For repetition, sit with your notebook and write over and over what you need to know. For example repeatedly write out the names of important persons you need to study. Draw flash cards with info on them and go over them constantly. Come up with silly rhymes or word associations to help you remember points.
Spencer Hope Davis has been covering topics such as work balance, travel and health since 2001. An alumna of Cleveland State University and Kent State University, Davis earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in justice studies.