Let’s be real, as much as you will try to be a good student from the onset of college, there is probably going to come a time when you will need to cram for a final exam. Either your choice to schedule a 7am class didn’t work well with your sleep schedule or you attended class but didn’t stay on top of the readings as much as you should have, cramming is often a reality of college. Believe it or not, you can actually teach yourself an entire semester of material in a matter of days or at least memorize what will be required to pass the test. First off, you will need to hunt down the right supplies.
Class Notes – Whether you have good notes of your own or you can bum them off of a friend, your first job is to track down what was covered in class. Now if you don’t have good notes or have any friends in class (because you never went to class), you’re not totally dead in the water. Most larger campuses have local businesses that hire students to take notes in class so that they can sell them to students just like yourself. Keep in mind that these notes are taken by students just like you, so they may be great, or they may be terrible, but given that you have nothing to work with, this is your best bet.
Now, upon receiving the notes, skip ahead to the notes for the last class, where most likely your professor outlined what you will need to know for the exam. You don’t have time to read an entire semester of material, so use this to make a map for yourself of what key information you will need to pull out of the text and memorize.
Flash Cards – Buy yourself a stack of index cards and make flash cards for yourself that include the information that you have identified that you must know for the test. Quiz yourself on this information endlessly until you can recite the information backwards and forwards.
Past Final Exams – As much as teachers hate it, every campus has past exams floating around. Sometimes the store where you purchased your class notes will sell them, or you can find them at sororities and fraternities that keep test files. If you can, find a copy of a past version of the exam that you’re going to take. Use that to test yourself on the material to make sure you know enough of what has been covered.
Snacks and Caffeine – If you blew off the semester, just accept the fact that you will have to lock yourself in a room and study hard for about 48 hours. Having plenty of snacks and caffeine handy is best so that you won’t be tempted to stray during your study sessions.
Cramming is definitely a last resort tactic. Make a promise to yourself that you won’t get yourself in this situation again. Next semester is always fresh with no mistakes in it yet. Make a commitment to attend class more frequently and keep up with the reading so that cramming doesn’t become the norm.