7 Smart Tips to Help You Study for a Test *Without* Actually Cramming

by Leika Golez   |  Jan 18, 2023
Image: Pexels Art: Bacs Arcebal
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Let's be honest: We've all been guilty of cramming before. Some people do it because they supposedly "need the pressure" to be at their best (ahem), while others genuinely struggle to manage their time properly. It can sometimes feel gratifying—and maybe even low-key fun—when you manage to ace a test despite only studying for it the night before, but constantly procrastinating for exams is essentially a setup for academic burnout. Still, I do acknowledge that it's a real challenge to kick the cramming habit if you have a million commitments to juggle.

That said, I've listed a few quick tips to help you study for your upcoming test without riding the cram tram:

1. Make a study plan. 

Since reviewing your entire exam coverage initially seems intimidating, a study plan will help you break down those big lessons into smaller tasks you can work on little by little. The key here is to set *realistic* deadlines for yourself so you don't set yourself up for failure. TL;DR: If you know your brain cells are dead after two hours of reading, don't push yourself to read three chapters every day.

2. Schedule a study session every day. 

Instead of pulling an all-nighter and reviewing everything in one go, set aside quick study sessions every day one to two weeks before your exam. Ideally, you'd only have to study for 30 to 60 minutes daily to go over your course content. Boring? Yes. But effective? Also yes.

3. Push yourself to start. 


It's true that starting is always the hardest part. This is especially relatable to my fellow perfectionists out there who tend to put off things because they're afraid to suck at it on their first try. But again, the best trick to finishing something before the deadline is to actually give yourself sufficient time to understand everything completely and digest heavy concepts. Believe me—you'll get into the rhythm of studying after you overcome that daunting first day!

4. Form a study group.

Joining a study group means having other people hold you accountable for your tasks and goals. Plus, you can also discuss difficult topics together and quiz each other on sample test questions! 

5. Take breaks in between study sessions.

After squeezing in Algebra equations and Biology terms into your brain, give it enough time to recover before you hit the books again. That way, you can start every study session without feeling like you're going to die in the next hour (we've all been there). After all, there's no point in re-reading your notes and reviewers if you can't even absorb anything.

6. Organize your notes.

Speaking of notes, it's also important that you find a note-taking system that works for you. As tempting as it is to just copy the aesthetic #studyinspo posts you see on IG, it'll be more efficient to stick to a tried-and-tested method that encourages productivity.

7. Rule out any distractions.

Go to a quiet space, declutter your study table, and put your phone somewhere far, far away where you can't see or hear it. When you catch your mind meandering, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you need to concentrate on the task at hand.

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Leika Golez
Candy Staff Writer
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