Cramming for exams is bad. You know it, we know it and yet everyone still does it to some extent. In fact, sometimes cramming doesn’t have to be bad – even if you've been hitting the books every week you'll still be tempted to skim over your flash cards on the morning of the exam.
There’s a right and a very wrong way to revise quickly, which is why we’ve used the combined power of our students, experts and the internet to show you how to revise in a week if you've left it til the last minute.
Whatever you do, don’t pull an all-nighter: losing one night’s sleep can impair reasoning and memory for up to four days! Basically, even if you managed to read all your textbooks twice by sacrificing on your sleep, it’s likely that all that cramming will be wasted. Make sure you get a sleep well the night before the exam as well as the week before.
Identify your weak spots where you need to focus your efforts. Make a list and then create a revision timetable so you know which subjects to revise on which day. Get all your notes together and tidy your study area, getting all your trusty highlighters together so you're raring to go on day 2.
Stick to your timetable, but make sure you leave time for breaks and food. Why not start the morning reading over a few past papers and making some notes and flashcards? Then, you can spend the afternoon - after a tasty lunch - doing a new practice paper and marking it to see where you need to improve.
Repeat day 2 but with a new topic! Make sure you go for a stroll or have a change of scenery to help you focus. If you can, take a walk before your exam. Your brain lights up after exercise and becomes more responsive, meaning you’re less likely to struggle with that first question.
Go back to the topics you've already looked at and test yourself using your flashcards and practice papers. After some more reading over your notes, try another practice paper for both topics and mark them - hopefully you should be improving your marks!
Identify where you still need help and suggest a group study session with your friends, or ask your family to test you - mixing up study routines and methods will help you remember things better!
Condense all your notes, quotes and formulae to memorise and create some colourful and clear mind maps and flashcards. Check you've not missed anything and then treat yourself to an afternoon doing whatever you want - go to the cinema, binge a box set, pop into town for some window shopping - whatever helps you switch off, go for it!
This day is the culmination of all your hard work - gather your flashcards and mind maps, and see what you can remember without having to look at your notes. If in doubt - do a few more practice papers, or just cherry pick questions that are likely to come up just to make sure you fully understand the topics.
Try not to over-study, as the stress can make you panic you've not learnt enough, when in actual fact you've done everything you needed to do. Have the confidence to believe in your abilities!