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You may be able to pass a humanities class cramming the night before an exam but it becomes much more difficult to do this for a math, science or engineering course. You will also retain much less if anything from cramming (which will catch up with you later). Don't cram for these subjects.
If you absolutely can't help it, here are some tips:
Emergency Cramming Tips:
  • Preview material to be covered.
  • Be selective: skim chapters for main points only.
  • Don't read information you won't have time to review.
  • Spend the majority of your time concentrating on the example problems.
  • See Emergency test preparation for an alternative, structured approach to cramming.
Biology Forums - Study Force How-to Tips:
  • Search for resolved questions on the Answer Board to review the most common pitfalls to problems from your textbook.
  • Preview examples of test-type questions from archived exams. Skim.
  • Attempt to solve open questions on the Answer Board for your course. Practice.
Thinking about pulling an all nighter?
  1. Plan ahead. Gather all the study materials and supplies you will need in advance. Take a nap early in the day before the big night. A one hour rest will make a big difference. Allow time at the end of your all-nighter to compose yourself. You want to be as lucid as you can be so you can focus on the task ahead.
  2. Set an alarm. Set your clock or wristwatch to signal you at reasonable intervals to keep you on task.
  3. Be careful about magic formulas for staying awake at night. Cat naps, coffee, chocolate, and caffeine pills work for some but have devastating results for others. Stimulants may get you through the night, but if you can't concentrate or you're so tired the next day that you can't think straight, what's the benefit? It might be best for you just to face the challenge and just take the test cold turkey.
  4. Avoid getting too comfortable. Study at your desk or anywhere but on a soft bed or comfortable sofa. Study at an all-night diner if you have to.
  5. Take five-minute breaks. When you begin to doze off, get up, stretch, take a walk, turn on the radio or TV for a few minutes or take a shower. This will clear your mind so you can focus better when you return to your studies.
  6. Exercise. Do something to get your heart rate and energy level up. Don't overdo it. Your priority here is to focus your energy on studying and concentrating, not exercising.
  7. Cover all the material, even if you just skim it. If your choice is to know half of the material thoroughly or all of it superficially, pick option number two. Look for summaries and outlines. Then dive into the example problems.
  8. Don't do all-nighters often. You can manage a late night every once in a while, but a steady diet of all-nighters guarantees that you will be fighting off the drive to doze. Also, studies show that cramming results in little long term memory.
Which is the best fuel for late night cramming?
Red Bull 13 (15%)
Coke 6 (7%)
Coffee 33 (40%)
Water 25 (30%)
Other 5 (6%)
Total Voters: 79
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