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Mastering the "All-Nighter"

If you happen to have forgotten about an important, upcoming exam and plan on staying up all night to study, you are not alone. Many college students tend to procrastinate or be bombarded with other courses, so that they are left studying, writing a paper, or completing a project last minute.

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Here are a few last-minute study tips to help ace your exam:

Let your syllabus outline a study guide for you

Before you begin reviewing your course materials, pull out your syllabus. Typically, strong course syllabi are naturally formatted so you can have a strong study outline. Consider how much time is spent on topics you are less confident in, and make a list of those topics as well as books or information you’d like to revisit in the next few hours.

Organize your materials

Even if you are not certain you’ll revisit certain books, handouts, or old papers for class, writing down and gathering these materials will avoid future hassle. Physically seeing the materials will help spark some recollection and perhaps refresh your memory. Arrange the materials so you have the easiest access to the ones you will utilize most during the study session.

Read over Critical Text

If you were proactive and read all the assigned chapters, books, and packets for the course, you will most likely need a quick skim to refresh your memory. If you did not, it’s best you read the introduction to each section. However, avoid reading everything, as it’s impossible to retain so much knowledge in such little time. Gather essay material or practice any problems that you cannot easily or consistently solve. Particularly, read through any essays or quizzes you completed throughout the semester. This will help you identify course objectives and give you insight to possible exam questions.

Take notes

Take notes on the topics that you are reviewing. Writing down information will help you remember it. It is always easier to recall an answer or information that you have written down. Before taking new notes, write down all the information pertinent to the exam that is already secured in your memory. This will help integrate new information as you go about studying and make it easier to recall on the exam.

Sleep three hours

If you feel that you have made enough headway to pry yourself away from your books for a couple of hours to nap, take that opportunity. Make sure to leave yourself a few hours before the exam to recollect your thoughts and review the notes you were taking before your break. Avoid sleeping a couple hours before the exam- this will only leave you feeling rushed and unprepared when you wake up, and it won’t allow you enough time to take another look at your notes.

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Last Reviewed: April 2021