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Preparing for a test at short notice

Updated on January 10, 2016

Fast track for taking tests with little time to prepare


As one prepares for a test at short notice, there are some critical procedures that should be undertaken before, during and after this process.

The things that should be done before includes removing yourself from objects of distractions. Examples of these are things such as radio,television,cell phones or anyone or thing which may affect your ability to focus.

  1. Prioritize. This is the most important part of cramming. You have a very limited amount of time -- you must use it as efficiently as possible. Get down to the nitty-gritty and only study what you think is worthy of being on the test.
    • Focus on the main ideas and learn key formulas. Skip the details for now and only come back to them if you have time available after learning the key points.
    • Don't attempt to learn everything; focus on things that will get you the most points on the exam. If your professor said the essay will be 75% of your grade, you're better off spending more time preparing for essays and spending less time or skipping the multiple choice questions based on the time you have available permits.
  2. During the preparation process you should gather some highlighters and flashcards with your pen. As you read highlight the important facts that you think may be on the test. This should be based on the discussion of the test that the teacher had possibly informed you about.
  3. Ensure that you study key concepts and vocabularies to get a clear understanding of the meanings of words that are likely to appear in the test. Knowing the meaning of key vocabulary terms are important as they form the foundation to making links with other parts of an instructional text to create concrete representations and new meanings pertinent to your preparation.
  4. As you study the key vocabulary, read them out aloud. It has been found that material that has been read aloud is retained more readily.
  5. Design flash cards. This is an excellent way to condense material to study over a short period of time.
  6. Take 5-10 minutes break after about a half an hour of study. During this time you can drink some water, perform some upper body exercises such as neck rotation and pushing the chest forward to free up the energy from the spine, necessary to energize yourself as you continue to study.

During your post study session there are some things which you should do:

If you can find someone to ask you questions that you have prepared for review then by all means do so. If you cannot, then ask yourself these questions and answer them aloud about 2 hours before the test. Ensure that you cease studying and give yourself at least 45 minutes before the test to rejuvenate the brain. This is an important procedure to follow, based on my experience in test taking and the quality of results achieved. I have noticed over a number of years that a brain not overloaded before a test will have a more optimal function,while a tired brain will operate with less efficiency.


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