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6 Study Tips for When You Need to Cram

Updated on November 8, 2019

Let's be honest, studying is such a pain. Pop-up quizzes, exams, recitations, and homework are a dread and yet we obviously want to pass (if not get through with flying colors). Here's some tips I learned to get past it all.

1. Find Your Proper Environment

It's important to find a place to study that suits you. What works for others, may work differently for you. You may prefer working in a group or maybe with someone through facetime or skype. As for me, I prefer working on my own. You may work best during the night. I want to study in the day with natural light. I sometimes even like walking a bit while reviewing my notes.

You can build a routine, but you can change things up, too. You can work at a café, a study hub, or maybe in a library. Sometimes, our brains grow tired and that's why we can change things up every now and then. More cognitive scientists have findings that changing your environment helps you with recalling information.


2. Write a To-do List

What I do is start off by writing a list of lessons I need to catch up on.

An example of a list I would write would be:

1. Write a list
2. Stretch/Do a HIIT
3. Drink your water, h*e
4. Make notes for chapter 1 of x subject
5. Take a break
6. Review notes for chapter 1 of x subject

It makes me have a clear list of goals so that I can stay on track. It helps me have a system so that I have organized notes and an organized mind. This can help us set priorities straight. Plus, it feels so good to finally cross something off the list. It motivates you to do more.


3. Relax

Relax first. You can't just keep pouring information at an already full mind. What I do first is stretch, drink some water, light a candle, have some deep breaths, or listen to some ASMR. If ASMR is too weird for you, maybe a hot bath can soothe you. It's important to relax not just before you start studying, but in between as well. You retain more information this way.

You need to relax and have faith that everything you are about to study is going straight to your brain and that it will remain there. If faith does not work, have a lot of mimosas, as told by Blair Waldorf.


4. The Pomodoro Technique

Coming from the Italian word for "tomato" , the technique is to help you manage your time wisely. You break down your work into smaller pieces. You take 25 minutes to do a task, then you take 5 minutes to have a break, and go back to doing the next task. After every four Pomodoro tasks, you can take a longer break.

This is why you need to have a to-do list. This not only helps you get things done, but it also reminds you to take frequent breaks.

There are lots of apps for the Pomodoro technique now.


  • Focus Timer
  • Marinara Timer
  • Tomighty


5. Use Flashcards and Quizlets

I spent my elementary days having daily drills during math class. Our favorite math teacher had flashcards ready and made us all take a 40-item drill quiz every single day.

Practice quizzes are helpful as well. These two can train your brain. They help you know your mistakes and correct them as well. Other benefits include: metacognition, recall, and you can learn at your own pace.

There are digital flashcard and quizlet apps now, too:

  • Brainscape
  • Q-cards
  • Quizlet
  • Anki


6. Take Good Care of Yourself

"Self love is not selfish."

During exam week or what most teens in the Philippines call "hell week", it's so easy for us to lose ourselves. Students drink heaps of coffee and turn nights into day just to study. Not only is that bad for our health, it's bad for our exam scores as well. Let's be honest, how can you ace a test with dark circles under your eyes and no food in your system?

Ever since I was a kid, I already started to put my physical needs above my academic pursuits. Our minds work well when we are well rested and well-fed. My mum always reminds me to bring snacks during tests and drink lots of water. She reminded me to listen to my body and get some shut-eye if I need it. Your body is your vessel. You certainly don't want to take that ibuprofen for your headaches or be drunk on caffeine just stay awake.

Last piece of advice: self love goes beyond the physiological aspect. It's important to not be too hard on yourself. Your mental health is important. Remind yourself that it's normal to get some rest. It's normal to get a grade you did not expect. Most importantly, remind yourself that you can do it. You can do anything you set your mind to do. Cultivate good thoughts.


Cheers to us who are coffee-powered. Good luck and God speed to all of you!




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