As somebody who leaves most things in life until the last minute, I am very experienced in the art of last minute revision. Yeah it’s not ideal and I don’t deny that it’s better and far less stressful to revise over a few weeks rather than the night before, but we’ve all been in this situation before. During my GCSEs in 2014, I had 19 exams to do over a period of three weeks. That meant that for some exams, it was only humanly possible to revise for them the day before. Some of my exams I had done months of revision for and others I had revised for a maximum of one evening. Well, I got a grade A for all of my exams which is why I believe it is possible to learn a large amount of content in a short period of time.
I’ll get the disclaimer over with now: don’t cram the night before if you can help it.
It is always better for your grades and wellbeing if you can space studying out over a few weeks. However, since you’re reading this, you probably have a test tomorrow so let’s not waste any more time. Here is how I effectively revise for an exam the night before:
1) Be decisive
You only have a limited amount of time and so you can’t afford to waste time um-ing and ah-ing about what to do. As soon as you make a decision on what book to read or what topic to learn, stick with your decision. A lot of time can be wasted changing your mind.
2) Prioritise topics
Use most of your time to learn the general stuff that is most likely to come up. If, for example, you have a history test, learn the basics of the event and a few key dates rather than something really niche that probably won’t come up. Write notes out in bullet point form to help you stay concise.
3) Choose the right music
If it helps you, make sure you’re not listening to distracting music but music that helps your focus. While I revise, I like to listen to high paced, fast music with few lyrics because it helps you stay energised and focused. If you type in ‘gaming music’ on YouTube, there are tonnes of playlists with monotonous but energetic music that keep your brain stimulated. Artists like Marshmello produce this kind of music and it’s ideal for these study sessions.
4) Stay hydrated and caffeinated
The last thing you need during an intense revision session is to feel tired and low on energy. Keep topped up with water and coffee (maybe even the odd Redbull) to fuel your brain.
5 Get up early the morning of the exam
Even if it means running low on sleep for the day, you will find that you can retain a lot of information even a few hours before the big exam. It will also help refresh your mind about the things you learnt the night before too.