Making the Most of a Last-Minute Study Session

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The night right before an exam is the night that will make or break your performance in the exam to come. Either you get enough rest to make sure you and your brain can function properly, or you end up having to stay up late to make up for lost time due to you not studying for the exam a few days ahead. If you somehow found yourself in the latter, fret not for we will discuss in this article how to make the most out of a late night cramming session.


While cramming may be unavoidable for some individuals, we still highly do not recommend it for a couple of reasons we will discuss later on.  However, if you are already entangled in that mess, then we suggest you continue reading to find out how to make the most out of that situation.

Pros of cramming

Everything has a good side just as much as they have a bad side. The only difference is the way the observer perceives these attributes. If you look really close, there may actually be some pros for cramming the night before an exam such as:

• Fresh memories

It is a given that we tend to remember things better when the memory is still fresh. This means the information you stored in your brain has only been there for a couple of hours and is therefore easier to retrieve. This can help you greatly during exams especially if you have trouble remembering the things you have studied.

• Adrenaline rush

The human body is a work of wonders we still have trouble understanding even if it is so close to ourselves. The adrenaline rush and burst of energy late night cramming provides to your system is undoubtedly something that is on par with those of famous energy drinks or even better. You will suddenly find yourself a lot more hyped up and active than usual, however, be careful about this as once that adrenaline rush runs out, you are back to you regular adrenaline-free body which is prone to tiring.

Cons of cramming

Now that we have examined the “heads” portion of cramming the night before an exam, it is now time to expound on the cons of cramming. If you have read a few of our previous articles, you may already know a few of the cons that cramming brings, however it is still worth mentioning the top cons for cramming.

• Lack of sleep

Right off the bat, it is considered common sense that if you spend the entire night before and exam studying, then you will be lacking the sufficient amount of sleep required for your body to function properly. Lack of sleep can cause a loss in focus, fatigue, a grumpy mood, and you will not be able to use your brain and body to its full potential.

• Memories tend to be short term

The benefit from cramming the night before an exam which was fresher memories tends to be a double edged sword in the long run. While the retention on the day of the exam may be terrific for you, this memory will most likely only stay as short-term memory which you will have trouble retrieving a few days after the exam. It is still advisable to start preparing a few days before an exam to keep the information form becoming short term memory.

How to cram for a test as effectively as possible

With all the disclaimers out of the way, let us now start to discuss how you can cram effectively the night before an exam.

1. Gather all the necessary materials

The first thing on your to-do list should be gathering all of the materials you will need and organizing them to avoid wasting time looking for the notes you left in the balcony or the book you lent to your friend. This can be very helpful to help keep you focused and avoid distractions in the environment you are doing your cramming session.

It will be easier to locate all the study materials you will need if you have them all in one place and organize them accordingly. The small amount of time you will send collecting these materials will prove very helpful when you don’t have to spend the entire night looking for the history notes you swore was just in your bag.

2. Stay away from social media

It should be a known fact that distractions are never beneficial when you are studying, which applies to cramming the night before and exam as well. Refrain from ay social media apps or anything that can distract you from your original goal. It would be all right to look up on the internet for research purposes, but anything other than that and you would just end up wasting time you don’t have.

3. Maintain a schedule

Even if it is only for one night, it would still be advisable to have and maintain a schedule all throughout the night to keep your rhythm going. Plan when you will study a certain subject and how much time you will spend studying it. You should also plan ahead when you will take brakes to keep you from getting tired.

Time management is very crucial especially when you only have about 8 hours to study a whole semester’s worth of materials. Which is why you should divide your time spent studying skillfully. Give more time to those subjects which can affect your grades greatly such as major subjects, but do not forget to allocate time to minor subjects as well.

4. Get a bit of caffeine involved

Contrary to common belief, caffeine surprisingly doesn’t give you large amount of energy to boost up your day, instead it tampers with the neurons in your brain responsible for letting you know when you are tired. This gives you the false sense that you have been given energy by the graceful goddess of coffee when in reality, you are just exhausting the little energy reserves you have left in your system.

With that being said, it is still a good idea to involve a bit of caffeine when you are cramming the night before an exam. This can help make you less prone to fatigue when studying and also makes you less drowsy to keep you focused on studying. However, be sure not to rely on it too much as it can hinder your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

5. Focus on the key details

When you only have a whole night’s worth to study a whole semester’s amount of topics, do you feel like you have the time to go through every topic thoroughly? You don’t right? Which is why when you are in a cramming session, it is better to focus on the key details of each topic and move on to the next. This will greatly increase your chances of getting a few extra questions right.

You can refer to this strategy as the “jack of all trades, master of none” strategy. This can be helpful because the ratio of questions which are considerably difficult and the questions which are considerably easy once you have studied them tends to lean to the latter. If the percentage of questions you have studied is 90% and the amount of really difficult questions is only 10%, then you can expect a grade of 80% or higher even if you only studied the key parts of each topic. This is a relatively great deal considering you only had a night to study.

6. Make a summary or outline

If you have trouble finding the key details of the topics, then you can always create a summary or outline of those topics yourself. Making a summary or outline can greatly benefit you as you will be able to skim through the topics while also jotting down the relevant terms and important parts of the topic. Plus you will also have something to read while waiting for your professor to show up the next day.

7. Set goals and assign rewards

Cramming can be very exhausting for anyone especially if there is no merit awaiting them. This is why it would be a good idea to set goals and assign rewards whenever you achieve those goals. You can have a goal which includes finishing an outline of a certain subject within one hour. You can then reward yourself with a little break and some sweets to feed your brain and keep you going throughout the night.

By assigning goals and rewards, you will have a certain goal you will strive to achieve (other than getting a passing grade) and a reward system which will motivate you to achieve those goals. This will be able to get you through the entire night without feeling exhausted and burnt out from all the studying.


If you are tired of cramming the night before an exam and don’t want to experience it again, then you can start by changing your study routine. Start by studying a little bit everyday so that it won’t pile up when the exams come.

If you want someone to help you study every day, then why not hire a tutor from Singapore’s number one tutoring agency? FamilyTutor is a home tuition agency with thousands of highly skilled and capable tutors.  We offer subjects from pre-school to university level students to make sure every student gets quality tutoring services no matter their age. We also make sure that our rates are at market value of lower to give you quality tuition at a reasonable price.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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