Updated date:

How to Study for an Exam in One Day


Whether you're cramming for a test or trying to write and essay quickly, the last few weeks of school can be scary for students of all ages. The situation becomes even more stressful when you've only got one day to study for an important exam. The good news is you that can prepare for a test in 24 hours, but you've got to be strategic about how you approach the material.

The tips in this article are designed to help you save time while you're studying you're whether you have a full day before the exam or just the night before. With some hard work and perseverance, you'll be able to confidently identify and memorize key concepts in the course even if you've fallen behind in class.

Before You Begin

Remain Calm

If you've left studying to the day before the test, it's likely that you're panicking about how you're going to get all of the work done in such a small amount of time. No matter what your circumstances are, it's absolutely important that you don't panic. Stress and anxiety will make it much harder to concentrate, memorize facts, and think critically about the exam material.

If you're feeling overly stressed, take 15 minutes before studying to clear your mind and relax. Try some yoga, listen to a favorite song, or make a quick call to a supportive friend. Just don't make it any longer than 15 minutes—set that timer and be prepared to get to work once relaxation time is over.

Gather Your Materials

Don't make the mistake of beginning a study session without the proper supplies. Take the time to find a blank notebook, some pens, the course syllabus and textbook, and your full class notes. Organize these materials neatly on a clean work surface, so that you have the freedom and space to access them when you need to.

Find a Quiet Spot

It's tempting to study with a large group of friends, especially if you're tackling a particularly hard subject. And while friends can provide some much-needed support, they're not always the best study buddies when you're pressed for time.

If you're serious about getting the work done, look for a quiet study spot away from friends, television, and other distractions. If you need to, turn your phone off, or at least set it to silent so you don't disturb other people around you. Having the peace and quiet you need to concentrate is key to studying effectively when you only have one day.

The blank page on your notebook is your invitation to plan your attack. Devise a list of the topics you need to review and how much time each will require.

The blank page on your notebook is your invitation to plan your attack. Devise a list of the topics you need to review and how much time each will require.

8 Steps to Successfully Cram for a Test

Once you've gathered your materials, taken some time to relax, and found a great study spot, it's time to get down to business. These six steps will help you study for an exam in 24 hours or less.

  1. Make a list of important terms, concepts, and ideas.
  2. Look for summaries in the textbook.
  3. Make more notes as you go.
  4. Make use of mind maps, charts, and graphs.
  5. Teach a friend.
  6. Review your important terms lists.
  7. Study out of order.
  8. Take practice tests.

1. Make a List of Important Terms/Concepts/Ideas

The first thing you need to realize is that you can't possibly study everything in the course in one day. That's simply impossible and would require way more time than you have.

Think of your study session as a type of "triage," where you only concentrate on the most important concepts, terms, and ideas in the course. The logic behind this strategy is that if a concept is very central to the course, then you will gain peripheral knowledge of other less important topics by focusing on it.

In general, you know something is important if:

  • The instructor has explicitly said it will be on the exam.
  • It has come up a lot in the textbook and/or lectures.
  • It is fundamental to understanding other topics in the course.
  • It is highlighted, underlined, or bolded in a course syllabus or textbook.

To begin looking for these terms, grab your course syllabus, a pen, and a blank notebook. Start making your way through the syllabus, jotting down any important terms in the blank notebook as you go. Another idea is to make flash cards for each key term.

Whatever method you choose, make sure you have a complete inventory of these key concepts for review. Keep this list handy so you can add more terms as you work. The idea is to make a kind of "cheat list" for you to review at the end of the studying session.

2. Look for Summaries in the Textbook

If your textbook is well-designed, it should have summaries of each section at either the beginning or the end of each chapter.

Find these summaries and study them—hard. Some professors will also provide summaries of important themes as handouts for the class.

Anything that's labeled Introduction, Conclusion, or Summary is what you want to focus on here, since these sections will synthesize information for you, making it easier to remember.

3. Make More Notes as You Go

Research shows that you learn much better if you write information down. As you study, jot down anything you want to commit to memory.

Unlike your list of key terms, this type of note-taking doesn't have to be neat. Just grab some scraps of paper and write down what you need to remember. Make sure you're writing and not typing, since typing isn't as effective for memorizing facts.

Computers and the internet can either be distractions or useful tools. Try turning the wifi off if you find yourself not being able to differentiate the two.

Computers and the internet can either be distractions or useful tools. Try turning the wifi off if you find yourself not being able to differentiate the two.

4. Make Use of Mind Maps, Charts, and Graphs

This isn't something you want to spend a lot of time doing if you're pressed for time, but taking fifteen minutes to make a quick mind map is a great way to synthesize the information you've learned.

One of the tricks to studying effectively is seeing the connections between various topics in the course. Don't make the mistake of assuming the material in Week One has no relevance to Week Seven. In fact, it's more than likely that Week Seven directly builds on concepts learned near the beginning of the course.

Try using a visual aid, like a chart, graph or mind map, to explicitly identify the connections between the course material. It'll give you a much better understanding of the concepts as a whole.

5. Teach a Friend

Another effective way of memorizing information is to pretend you're teaching it to someone else.

Once you feel reasonably comfortable with the material, meet up with a friend for an hour and present them with what you know. Encourage them to ask questions about the material so you'll be forced to re-explain concepts or think more critically about the subject.

It sounds hard, but teaching someone who knows less about a topic than you do is a great way to cement what you already know.

6. Study Out of Order

It is easy to second-guess this tip, but it can be a effective technique for learning new material if done correctly. Our brains don't always work in a perfect, and we are no different. After thoroughly reviewing your notes in order, randomly go back and read them in no particular order. You will be training your brain to remember the information on its own, instead as a part of a series. If chronology is relevant to the subject, like history, then be mindful of noting chronology, but still change the order in which you study.

7. Review Your Important Terms List

Remember the list of terms you made at the beginning of the study session? It's now time to review it and make sure you understand everything on the list.

For each term, try saying a complete definition out loud. If you can't remember a term, put an asterisk next to it and move on to the next one.

By the end of this exercise, you should feel pretty confident about many of the terms, and not so confident about the ones with asterisks. Take 30 minutes or so to refresh your memory on the trickier terms, then quiz yourself again.

Index cards make great flash cards for important concepts and terms.

Index cards make great flash cards for important concepts and terms.

8. Take Practice Tests

Although you can not always emulate the high-pressure test-taking environment outside of the classroom, practice exams are a great tools for building stamina, testing your knowledge, and putting everything you learned together. If you happen to encounter the unexpected during the course of your practice exam, you will be that much more prepared when the time comes to do the real thing.

Does Cramming for an Exam Work?

Cramming for the sake of passing a test in the short-term makes sense. However, when it comes to really learning a new subject, cramming is one of the most ineffective measures of doing so. At its core, cramming induces the stress responses of students rendering it even harder for them to gain a deeper understanding of the material. A UCLA research team performed a study that concluded that sacrificing sleep for an intense cramming study session is actually counter-productive.

Spaced Out Learning

It should go on record that the best way for you to make meaningful connections with the material is to engage with it over an extended period of time. Spaced out learning is the opposite of cramming. Instead of trying to learn in an intense period right before the exam, spread out your engagement with the material over a reasonable timeframe to give yourself the best chance to succeed. Do this by following these tips:

  • Start Planning Early
  • Set Aside Time Each Day to Study
  • Read Slowly
  • Get a Good Night's Sleep
  • Stay Organized
  • Study in Shorter Sessions

It pays to slow down and be efficient while getting to know the information. Your future learning endeavors will be anchored on what you are learning now. Cramming allows you to learn "quicker," but that usually means forgetting the information quickly as well. Learn to study smart, and not hard.


Gayatri on August 19, 2020:

Thank you these tips are really very helpful

you ain't gonna know my name on June 23, 2020:

This was really helpful, I aced my exam. The key is to stay calm.

Manish Mehta on May 13, 2020:

outstanding blog, thanks for sharing your view but according to me

Its is easy to complete within few hours of yours of the five chapters.

If you have study holiday it is great, you have more time to study as well as to revise before your exam.

Start with difficult chapters and end with easy. Because for hard, you need more energy, so we will have in the starting. So go with the mountain then come to tiny ones.

Start by 9 am and study till 1 pm. Then go for lunch and sleep for one hour. Then Study from 2.30/3.00 pm till 7 pm. Dinner. Revise the whole things. Difficult answers try to write and see while you revising.

thanks for sharing.

Read more at : https://socialgyan.net/

oussama el airaqi on April 04, 2020:

thank you for this tips really help me so much

Dhanvin on March 21, 2020:

my exam is tommoroow so this better help me out...

Sup on March 12, 2020:

I’m praying this works, I have SAT’s on Saturday, and it’s 9:55 pm on Thursday.

Tulika Rathod on March 05, 2020:

Thank you so much! These tips have helped me a lot. Very effective and beneficial :)

DISHA P on February 25, 2020:


Priya on February 21, 2020:

Thanks 4r the tips but it looks like impossible to finish the course within 3days as lam very nervous

Jazzy Garcia on February 15, 2020:

I only have a WEEK left for my exams and I'm so nervous!

This really helped me a lot. Thanks for sharing!!

Selam on January 29, 2020:

It is good but studying in morning is more effective

Kholoud ronaldo on January 09, 2020:

Thanks a lot , i really need these tips today because i have an exam tomorrow and actually i'm so nervous but i'm trying to pretend that i'm not, so i logged into u site and i benefited from these tips which gave me the support to study hard for the next three days. thanks a lot

salim on October 09, 2019:

hi better in violet please help me comment on the language you used in writting this blog

sania naz on October 06, 2019:

Hi dear this was good with lot's of information but if anybody wants the easier way how to cram everything in one day please refer to my blog


thelma saunyama on September 19, 2019:

im using this as my academic blog.its really easy to understand

mandisa on September 17, 2019:

okay.....so like i'm writting tomorrow and i wanted to know if i'm gonna pass or what

Selin on September 15, 2019:

This was very nice but I am still fretting and not ready for the test!

Sanjana on September 11, 2019:

Very nice

Jayden on August 29, 2019:

incredible tips

thelma on August 28, 2019:

awsome tips im writting next month though

Tinu on August 26, 2019:

I want to pass the exam and i follow this tips now..

Chris on August 11, 2019:

Awesome tip I have an exam in 5dys want to use to these tips

Raynelle on August 11, 2019:

thank you quite helpful tips I want to follow them

chocky jay on August 07, 2019:

thank you for the tips

Harold Dan on August 06, 2019:

Thanks for this post, it’s awesome and helpful. Need more time to review?


Niko on June 28, 2019:

Veryyyyy good. But can u help us? I dont know maybe let us to write our problems and then u anwser?

unknown on June 14, 2019:

well i have maths and ict exam on same day but believe me it helped me alot in just one day :)

I follo on June 13, 2019:

I follow and see what happen after result...

Eva on May 01, 2019:

Well! My exam starts tommorrow and i still half of the book to cover

Nweze Ayinachiso on April 16, 2019:

Very calming and helpful

Mkanya on March 24, 2019:

Delighted with point number5 well understood i think i will apply that

Shiv on March 17, 2019:

Super o ranga

@emmy on March 08, 2019:

thanks for the tips

Natasha on March 08, 2019:

I normally panic when my exam days are near but now with these tips u have shared, i will not panic anymore

Nishali Pathirana on March 07, 2019:

Thank you for providing such kind of tips for the students as well as for others who struggle to get a pass in the final moment........I'll try my best to do by making the fullest effort. Tomorrow is the day.

Tarun bhagwani on March 07, 2019:

Can you give me sanskrit lesson because tomorrow is a exam

quotera on March 01, 2019:

hey want to to stay motivated during your exam time

then check out out


manish mehta on February 25, 2019:

Studying is tough. Whether you’re a veteran student getting a Ph.D. or someone starting high school, figuring out how to stay focused while studying is a challenge that we all face. Whether your biggest challenge is social media, procrastination, time management, or a combination of all three, we’ve got a variety of tools and techniques that can help minimize the stress of studying and keep you focused on what matters.

How to stay focused while studying, a guide:


Shreya on February 21, 2019:

I have my exam day after tomorrow. I will try this technique. I think it will work. Hope so. Thank you for this....

nyasha on February 08, 2019:

very helpful indeed we should try to avoid cramming when our exams are near

Dipak Jha on February 07, 2019:

Thanks for sharing this article. i am a student of class 10. i was searching for home tuition classes like https://www.gurusiksha.com/ . then i found this blog. these tips will definitely help me in my math exam pureparation.

Dipak Jha on February 07, 2019:

Thanks for sharing this article. i am a student of class 12. i was searching for home tuition classes like https://www.gurusiksha.com/. then i found this blog. these tips will definitely help me in my math exam pureparation.

RUMBIE on February 03, 2019:

Perfect... Thank you

malcom on February 01, 2019:

Cant wait to try it ,hope it works

erial on February 01, 2019:

very helpful thanks

Samantha on January 30, 2019:

My exam is not tomorrow but am so scared and l am hoping this will work since l never thought l can pass in one day

Patience on January 28, 2019:

Very informative, thank you very much. My examinations are not tomorrow but I will definitely follow the steps.

beki on January 27, 2019:

I'm very happy thank you.

IAmMe on January 26, 2019:

i'm doomed

wills on January 25, 2019:

am excited about cramming on the last day as it is my way of studying

Natasha on January 25, 2019:

Great steps to follow, will also try using them

Jeya on January 15, 2019:

Good concepts to follow. I will try my best ☺

Dۧ0 on January 11, 2019:

Thank you!!... I hope it helps... :D

Vinie issac on December 23, 2018:

Loved the 6 step

Finally gonna start it from today

TRAZ on December 10, 2018:

lol my exam is tomorrow and i haven't revised at all and i'm in deep shit rn bcos my parents and head of progress in my school are gonna skin me alive, love that for me

Kate on November 25, 2018:

It helped a lot.

Narley on November 18, 2018:

Well, my exam isn't tomorrow.....

But thanks anyway!

kunda on November 12, 2018:

tmol am sitting for a history test and am pretty sure that its gonna work

Harley on November 10, 2018:

it worked

nasrin sultana on November 09, 2018:

it's perfect

James on November 06, 2018:

Thank you

eela on October 02, 2018:

I'm a grade 10 CBSE student, and this isn't helpful in any way.

nyarie on September 29, 2018:

Hmm i like step 5 .

Avantika on September 22, 2018:

Thank u so much

Unknown on September 15, 2018:

Tomorrow I have my final chemistry test and I dint learn a single word sooo will this work???

BELLA on September 15, 2018:


wills katsvairo on September 14, 2018:

it boosted my confidence wills

nyarie on September 14, 2018:

my exams are due october im going to use these 6 steps for my studies. thank u so much sir.

florence on September 12, 2018:

good concepts to follow

NITHRA on September 09, 2018:


kritika on September 06, 2018:

Thank u so much sir really Inspiring

bezz on August 17, 2018:

wish it work,just a little more courage and more confident in my self.hope you past your test


nyarie on August 10, 2018:

this article is so educative

Sivashsnmugam R on August 05, 2018:

Good ideas thank you

Sai on July 29, 2018:

I will try my best.

Sai on July 29, 2018:

I am sorry to say this that I is not going to work for me because I had not learned first properly and sat is very irritating subject and tomorrow is my sat exam and I will try my best.

Thank you for such a long information.

Sai on July 29, 2018:

I did not have that much time to prepare

BRIGHT STARS on July 27, 2018:

I will be sitting for waec in less than ten months and am really curious what its like,so i want to start studying now.i pray it work.

nokuthula on July 18, 2018:

I have an exam in 5 weeks time. thank you so much for this post.. i am pretty confident that it will help me.

Deepak Sharma on June 16, 2018:

I don't know if it will work but i'll try them becoz I feel pretty confident about them

Sofi on June 16, 2018:

My English exam will be tomorrow but I'm afraid of a bad result. Well, I can speak English well, but I don't understand how to do tests. That's my problem

Tom on June 10, 2018:

My finals are tomorrow and the next two days after it so rip

procrastinationstation on June 10, 2018:

I've set myself up for ultimate failure. I have an exam Tuesday evening and have not studied. I have 2 other exams coming up also; and have not studied for those either. I have definitely come to terms in accepting my failure - and have excused myself. lol. well... there's always next semester??? :P

go for exams on May 24, 2018:

Good to know these things.

tabish on May 18, 2018:

that s good

Jayaram on May 08, 2018:

I want to study genetics in 11 hours

Kud@ on May 04, 2018:

really helpful and I think you need to have read and study before

Nyasha on May 03, 2018:

How do manage your study time guys when you preparing for an exam which will be in the next morning, am failing to keep up with time

Mimi Marova on April 29, 2018:

I find it very helpful being alone in a quiet place coupled with teaching a friend it sticks.Thank you very much.

neven on April 28, 2018:

I'm really scared but I'm afraid because they'll cut me off for my low marks

tinashley on April 27, 2018:

True Noster when you do something acting or presenting it to someone else it easy to master and will never get out of your head

maedelyn on April 27, 2018:

thank you its helping. really liked it

Noster on April 27, 2018:

I am in love with step no. 5

Noster on April 27, 2018:

I like the technique no. 5

RIT Tiger on April 04, 2018:

Mechanics of programming exam and SQL exam 1.5 hours apart with philosophy in between. time to study for both for 9 hours and then skip philosophy ! RIT CS program is rough......

divyansh author of the problem on April 04, 2018:

I aced the exam. I had already prepared all the material. i was just asking so that i could revise one day before my exam.

Ashley Marufu on March 26, 2018:

But you should have read the stuff,

Unaninamous on March 25, 2018:

Fatima, if you can go to library, go there. Or you can lock up yourself in your room and put on headphones. Nevertheles don't suicide please. Even if you fail your exam, it doesn't mean you are finished or fail for the rest of your life. Maybe you have specialties not related to study. I sometimes feel the same like you but exam is not everything and exam is not your life. So don't

Fatima on March 24, 2018:

It says that find a quiet place but there is no quiet place in my house ...what should i do .....i'm gonna sucide if i'm unable to pass the exam tomorrow

gowtham on March 22, 2018:

i dont know hindi i cant prepare in 1 day. i hate it.

Related Articles