2016 May 30
by Anuki Premachandra
Ah, the ides of May and June, the glorious, not-so-favourite months of exams. So some of you lucky ones out there might already be done with exams, but well, for some of you, troubles are yet to begin. So something we’re all very familiar with is procrastination. With the rains and what not, sleeping in has become the norm. I mean, the cold weather, the warmth of your bed, irresistible isn’t it? I’m positive I’m not the only one who completely freaks out the night before a big exam? Why? That’s because I’ve got so much to do, but so little time. Huh, time, it’s funny how our excuse for poor performance is also having not enough time, when in reality what we actually did with the time we had, was waste it! Now for those of you with enough time to get your work done, but are finding it hard to do so because you are someone exceling 100% at the procrastination game, this article is for you.
Okay so what do we know about last minute cramming? There exists a five step cycle that occurs every night before an exam.
Step 1. Freak out about how much you’ve got left to do
Step 2. Try to calm yourself down and get yourself organized
Step 3. Do 12 hours of work in 20 min and convince yourself you deserve a break.
Step 4. Realise your break was longer than the actual time spent studying
Step 5. Repeat
Since we’ve got that cleared out, here are some steps to help you conquer the cycle. I know I’m not supposed to encourage last minute studying but let’s face it, even if you’re a straight A student, you are going to agree with me that cramming is definitely an issue you have. Do you remember how when you were cramming the night before your O/Ls you told yourself that you would make sure that it wouldn’t be the same when it came to A/ls? Do you also remember how you blatantly broke your promise about it and this continued through to your college years? Yeah the only thing you probably learnt was how to cram your work better. And today, for those not-as-much experienced ones, we’re here to give you some advice to help make your nights much better.
- Block distractions
So this is very important to get your brain in gear. You need to block away distractions. Maybe switch your phone off or put it on silent. But if you want to have it on, then I’d suggest you switch off your Wi-Fi and data. If you are using your laptop, then do as best as you can to avoid going on social media or randomly reading through stuff you find on the internet. As silly as it sounds, we kind of do end up reading articles on spring cleaning or dental hacks in the middle of the night!
Give yourself a timeline, and try your best to stick to it. Maybe if you do get your work done before the time elapses, maybe then you can take a break. And no, you CANNOT afford an hour long break! A couple of minutes would do. Try your best to keep it under 10.
- Read around the topic
Something you realise the night before the exam is everything that you don’t know. In the worst case scenario, you realise that you don’t know so much compared to the little you know. This is when you need to read around the topic. If its essay subjects, then if you have a simple idea of what the term or concept means, if your writing is good enough, you would actually be able to whip up a good enough point with the knowledge you know. Let’s say you have a history timeline to remember or one of Karl Marx’s concepts that seem gibberish to you. Perhaps Google it up, read through a small Wikipedia introduction to the otherwise broadly complicated concept and you’re good to go.
Something else that I prefer doing is watching a CrashCourse video or referring to a Khan Academy tutorial. Videos register in your brain so much faster and it cuts down on the ton of reading you’ve got to do. It’s worth a shot!
- Relate to something
This is great advice! Try and connect what you’re studying to something that you find yourself easier to relate to. This way, you can keep two facts correlated and the other would pop right up when you think of one.
A mnemonic is one way to do this. 5 characteristics about a business organisation you need to keep in mind? Take the first letter of each characteristic and try to come up with a word or assign a rhyme or acronym to information to make it easier to recall.
Or let’s say you have a concept and an author to keep in mind. Maybe draw some connection between the title of the concept and the name of the author. Maybe you’ll find something that’s common to both that’ll help you recall. The connecting factor between the two doesn’t have to be wildly connected to the topic at all, as long as it’s something that will help you remember and recall, you’re good to go.
- Teach yourself everything you know
Explaining something to someone is a great way to really understand what you’ve just learnt. Given that now you’re studying last minute and are less likely to find people to teach what you’ve learnt, do it to yourself.
I know this sounds like the time when you played teacher with your imaginary doll and teddy classroom when you were 8. The soft toys are exceptional, but reading out aloud and trying to teach yourself what you’ve just learnt is a great way to register lessons. Pretend you’re the teacher and give yourself a detailed explanation of what you’ve learnt. It’s a great confidence building mechanism as well.
I know that cramming everything you’ve learnt throughout your semester in one night sucks. But these tips are bound to give you the comfort that a) you’re not the only one in this mess, and b) we’ve all been there overcome it successfully. An all-nighter is not a lot of fun either, but as long as you’re determined and focused, there’s nothing you can’t conquer in one night. Maybe update your lock screens and laptop background with motivational quotes, as much as it sounds stupid, sometimes it does help you get back on track.
I know it isn’t easy, but one day it’ll be worth it! Good luck with your exams! Remember, don’t freak out, you’ve got this.