Before I start this off, I’d just like to make one thing clear. There isn’t a miracle. There isn’t going to be some switch to flip that’ll suddenly get you good grades for no effort. The amount of effort you need to put in can be minimised, and that’s what I’ll try to explain here, but there’s still a certain amount you need to invest, any less of would just leave you unsatisfied. So, if you’re willing to reduce the work you put in studying all through the year, and perhaps allocate it a bit differently, then let’s get to it.
Firstly, and this is, by far, the most important thing to do in my opinion – pay attention in class. There is nothing that beats already having a very solid background and foundation of whatever topics you’re studying from interacting with your teacher and staying alert when you’re first being taught the information. Try to take the class as an opportunity to stay very focused, and try to help yourself memorise the info as it is gone through – the mentality of leaving something you don’t fully grasp to when you study on your own to finally fully understand it will only get you so far if you don’t actually study. You need to walk out of that class with at least an 80-90% understanding of all what you were taught – that’s the first way to minimise your effort when you get back home.
For some practical tips on how to keep certain information in your memory for as long as possible when you’re still learning it, I’d recommend creating associations. Relate things in your head in a way no one else would. Perhaps you can even relate a certain piece of information with something that happened in class when it was being discussed; these kinds of mental links will help you recall the info much more easily. Experimenting with your learning style, and catering your learning experience to best suit it is also worth it. This might all seem like a lot of work, but it’ll save you plenty of time over studying.
And now, we consider a slightly different situation. What if it’s a bit too late, and there just isn’t that much time? Well, the first thing to do is take a deep breath. Relax. Panicking and freaking out won’t get you any progress, so stay as calm as possible before you take any action. Stress can be good to alert you that you need to start getting things done in the first place, and it can also push you to be efficient. But beyond that, its usefulness begins to diminish, so do your best to control it so that it doesn’t end up being an obstacle between you and your potential success.
If you know me, this might be a bit expected, but make a plan. Nothing too fancy, though. List all the things you need to have finished before your exam. Set your priorities and start going through everything in order of importance. Accept the possibility that you might not enter the exam fully prepared, but that’s to be expected since, well, you didn’t want to study. At this point, you’ll really appreciate paying attention in class if you used to do that – it really pays off and makes the process a whole lot smoother.
To finish all your material as quickly as possible, give yourself the proper resources and environment. Drink some coffee if it helps you focus and doesn’t particularly disagree with your body. Have some light snacks when you need some energy, stay hydrated and make sure your temporary study space is organized and encouraging.
And lastly, use your friends. If any of your classmates are on talking basis, and you know they’re a bit more – uh – adept with the subject than you are, organize a “revision” session. Explaining to someone can be a great way for them to get that final boost of confidence while acting as a great refresher, and it can be what saves your ass as well. Win-win if you ask me. Just make sure whoever you choose to do this isn’t being forced to. There is never an excuse to be a bad person. :3
With that, I wish you the best of luck, and I honestly hope you never decide to resort to this article unless it’s too late.