6 scientific ways to cram for an exam effectively
Craming for an exam isn’t the most ideal way to prepare Whilst studying, but let’s face it, we’ve all been there. If you’re reading this, then you’re putting in the effort even though it might be a tad later than we would of liked. You’ve probably got an exam coming up this week, tomorrow or in a few hours, so let’s focus on what you can do.
How to cram for my exam
As we’ve already clarified, cramming for your exam isn’t the best idea, we would advise you to consistently revise your content as much as possible without stressing to much, to give yourself the opportunity to get the results you wanted, however we do understand that life can sometimes get in the way so we want to help. Below you will find the scientific ways to cram effectively. You might not be able to learn a lot in this period of time, but you can store some important information in your STM (short term memory) We've kept this blog short to save abit of time.
- Memory palace: We’ve wrote about this before and you would not believe the results! I would advise you reading the blog. In short a memory palace, which is an ancient method to recall information on demand, the idea of this technique is to make associations between, what information you need to remember and a specific place within an environment you are familiar with. For example if you needed to remember the periodic table, you could imagine all the materials as different pieces of the furniture in your home. The reason why this is believed to work is because our visual and spatial memory are quite strong and connecting Information to those already existing memories proves extremely effective. I strongly recommend you using this technique as it has really helped me. Also the crazier and more bizarre you can imagine the information you’re trying to remember the easier it will be to recall.
- Mnemonic devices: My very educated mother just served us nachos, have you ever heard this before? Well that’s because it’s a mnemonic for the planets in our solar system, if you take the first letter of each word in the sentence, you also find that these letters are also the first letters of every planet. A mnemonic is technique to retain information that is required, there is different techniques that you can use, like the one we just showed you or songs to help you remember. Mnemonics have been found to help retention of memories which you can see in this article.
- Don’t follow the norm: Many of the traditional ways of studying are out dated or just totally wrong. Do you reread your notes and text books and feel like you’ve revised? Well the truth is you probably haven’t, as you can see from this study rereading doesn’t seem to be the most productive way of studying. I don’t want to go all deep on you but you can do this, you don’t have to listen to what others say, just find what’s right for and stick to it.
- Destress: Exam are one of the worst things for stress never mind cramming right before sitting the exam. Unfortunately it’s what most of us do, we often fall to the pressure because we want to do so well. Stress causes your body to release adrenaline, increase your heart rate and about 20 minutes later after feeling stressed your body undergoes a delayed stress response, releasing the hormone cortisol, cortisol attaches to receptors of the hippocampus, which is part of the limbic system. The limbic system is responsible for the process of turning short term memories to long term memories, but when cortisol binds to the hippocampus it impairs retrieval of memory, therefore if you are stressed it is harder to recall information during your exam. Destressing might be easier said than done, as you’re in a tough situation, we believe that mindset is very important so we would advise you reading our blog about having a growth mindset by clicking here. One practice that most people associate with destressing is meditation, which we’ve also done a blog on which you can read by clicking here.
- Practice tests: If you’ve got time, we would strongly advise you doing a practice test, although this may seem a bit stressful, they’re scientifically supported means of improving memory recall. As they say practice makes perfect, so get busy! FMRI studies have found practice test increase the hippocampus’s ability to connect to other regions of the brain, so even though cortisol impairs some pathways, studying with practice tests creates new paths around the blockages.
- Sleep: You’ve just got home from a hard days work at school and you go to get a drink and a banana to give you all them juicy vitamins, as you go to take your glass and bowl back in, you look up at the clock and it says 9:00pm! And you’re thinking where on earth did the time go. So you start cramming late into the night and by the time of 3:00 you’ve just started to dose of just to have your revision to be imprinted into your face when you wake up. I do believe in hard work but I also understand the importance of sleep, as do all the people who have read or conducted studies on sleep, when we sleep it helps the process of turning short term memories into long term memories. If you would like to learn more about sleep then you can read our blog about sleeping smarter by clicking here.