The one promise every student makes at the start of each term: I will regularly study so that I can avoid cramming for the exams. Much like procrastinating an essay or a research paper you need to finish, cramming for an exam will lead to undesired academic results. In the days or even hours leading to an exam, you force yourself to study but nothing seems to be sticking in your brain. The exam comes and you fail it. You end up scratching your head in regret. Now you ask yourself how can you avoid cramming for an exam. Most students think cramming is natural and some even think that it is more effective for them. But unfortunately, it is not. Cramming can cause unnecessary strain on your brain. Fortunately, there are a few techniques you can master so you can avoid cramming. Remember that all of these techniques are connected to each other so it is best to practice all of them to get the result you need.
The most difficult of all the techniques, but the most crucial. An hour a day of studying your notes may seem inadequate but in the long run, it will help you store the knowledge you need for the big day. On the contrary, cramming may seem beneficial but it also has a negative – the knowledge you store through rapid cramming also gets lost quickly because of a number of factors (loss of sleep, time pressure, and college stress) – so it is counterproductive. Studying regularly even for just short spans of time reduces stress and enhances your memory. The importance of discipline and motivation cannot be overstated. Being early steers you away from cramming for the exams. And believe it or not, studying is a skill. A skill that can be learned and re-learned.
While a study group has some positive effects, it is also one sure way to get distracted. A group study session can quickly turn into a socializing session especially if your peers lack discipline. If you wish to take part in a group study, convince your group mates to set strict rules (no distractions, no chatting, no clowning around). If you think the group study will not produce good results and studying alone will do no good because you have not learned enough about the subject yet, seek out the services of a tutor as you will surely be more focused.
Take Advantage of the Time You Are Most Productive
If you are sleepy, chances are high that you will not be able to learn anything. You will exert all that spare energy to just yawn, get a cup of coffee, and pat yourself to stay awake in class or even while at home studying. The best approach is to take note of your sleeping and waking habits. After doing so, motivate yourself to study during those times when you feel most sharp so you would not need to cram. Avoid studying during those times that you are groggy or sleepy.
Manage Your Time Wisely
Frequent browsing through your notes long before the exam is beneficial, but managing your time wisely and distributing them in segments is most important to ensure that you are able to study everything. Intervals can also help avoid draining yourself. Much research have proven that distributed study, along with healthy intervals scattered along the time leading up to the examination, is most effective in retaining knowledge without stressing yourself. In the process, you are also making yourself avoid cramming for the exams.
Enhance Your Notes
Research shows that handwriting enhances brain activity – the learning process. Since notes taken during class are usually rushed, they are most of the time hard to understand when you review them. Rewriting notes frequently will help as you will not only rewrite them, you will also be made to read them again and therefore, knowledge will register in your brain even if you think you are just enhancing your notes. Do you think you are just playing around with your notes and gaining little knowledge? No. You are indirectly doing something to avoid cramming for the exams.
Learn to Study Smart
Reading, rereading, highlighting are all good. But to some students, they tend to be boring at times. Long before the examination, prepare some mock tests and answer them with your group mates. This is also a good way to know which areas need further studying. Mock tests, flashcards, informal recitations, and quizzes are very helpful to make you avoid cramming for the exams.
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