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How to Study for an Exam in One Day

Updated on August 2, 2016

The last few weeks of school can be scary for students of all ages, whether you're cramming for a test or trying to write an essay quickly.

But it's 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.

These tips are designed to help you save time while you're studying, whether you're beginning a full day before the exam or even 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

a. 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 fifteen 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 fifteen minutes—set that timer and be prepared to get to work once relaxation time is over.

b. 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.

c. 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.

6 Steps to Success

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/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.

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. 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.


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    • profile image

      Soumya Das 5 days ago

      Very effective

    • profile image

      MAAHLOX 10 days ago

      i have less than 2 hours to write a test in current electricity and thermodynamics please for help

    • profile image

      Albar binge Hasib 3 weeks ago

      Good tip I think it may work

    • profile image

      Ekaterina 3 weeks ago

      This technique worked great! I was a bit disorganized before and would focus on important ideas but did not make the exact list of what i needed to know from the book, class and notes. So far just with the list of terms and writing out the answers then making a card for each term/idea I was able to effectively memorize the key concepts and the vocabulary for my lecture in about 45 minutes! I didnt do the graphs or map yet. After i finish the chapter I am going to revisit the terms then review questions and then see how I do. Thank you this tip helped me absorb the information much faster. It usually takes me about a week to learn what I just learned in 45 minutes. My test is in 2 weeks I am going to use this technique and go back for all of my notes. It was awesome!

    • profile image

      Nihal asharaf 4 weeks ago

      Thanks owlication team for such useful tips

      -Wish u all have a nice day

    • profile image

      Squirrel (not actual name) 5 weeks ago

      Tomorrow I have maths exam...I have to practice 8 chapters ....but I know I can do it...after writing the exam I will comment how my exam went on...

    • profile image

      Rabhya sinha 5 weeks ago

      Today was my science paper and till yesterday much of my syllabus was left incomplete . All thanks to u that my exam went awwwwwwwesome !!! Thank u so much .

    • profile image

      Aanshu Didi 5 weeks ago

      indeed it was very helpful thanks

    • profile image

      Alishka Seikh 6 weeks ago

      Tomorrow I have my social science exam and I have to read 6 chapters.

    • profile image

      kaustubh deore 6 weeks ago

      my algebra exam is tommrow i have to study very hard my 3 lessons are reamining . plz help me

    • profile image

      kirti naik 6 weeks ago

      day after tomorrow is my science exam and i don't even know the concept of physics ; chemistry and biology. really can't understand what i will do now

    • profile image

      crimy 6 weeks ago

      I have an history exam tomorrow that I deseperetly need to pass! the first two terms are really important for being accepted in cegep and i stress so much i cant. we had so much to study the pass week i was about to die (fig.) and I didn't had time to study history! its the first exam of the year and it count for 100% ugh!

    • profile image

      lizbeth 6 weeks ago

      I didn't really much get feedback is that it is a big no no and he same thing and i get bad grades in history and science.I got a C+.I am 8th grade and I feel I am the dumb. I study a lot.I want to get a good career in life for the future of course.But I don't have no one to study with because people discriminate me and thee only one I have a twin sister.

    • profile image

      Amy 8 weeks ago

      Tomorrow to next day there is my exam of science

    • profile image

      archit arya 8 weeks ago

      may god help me with physics

    • profile image

      Chulbul Pandey 2 months ago


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      BJ 2 months ago

      I hope these tips work... I have a math test tomorrow that I desperately need to pass. I already failed it twice. The 3rd time is a charm though right????

    • profile image

      ishika 2 months ago

      thanxx for d the help i hope it will help me becoz tomorrow is my chemistry exam and i hv 2 study 4 chapters which is very difficult,,,.....

    • profile image

      ayesha fathima 2 months ago

      I love studies but can't study in proper way either I forget or I struggle to answer but I'll try my best and gain good marks in my10th

    • profile image

      Ileana D'Cruz 2 months ago

      I don't think so it will help me.

    • profile image

      Trina 2 months ago

      Thanks.... I hope it works, because I have History tomorrow and I have to study 8 chapters.

    • profile image

      Hillary 2 months ago

      very helpful even when you not just restricted to one day especially the teach a friend part I have always used that one to my benefit

    • profile image

      Shannu 2 months ago

      Excellent study techniques

    • profile image

      jasmine 3 months ago

      it did help!!!

    • profile image

      FLORA KAULI 3 months ago

      It has helped me a lot thank you.

    • profile image

      Sangeetha 3 months ago


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      Lovella 4 months ago

      Thanks now I know how to study . my test is tomorrow So I'll try my best and follow the steps so i can get better score hope I can get perfect :)

    • profile image

      Akash 4 months ago

      Thanks a lot, I am feeling good now. I will try my best to follow these points . There is a unit test after 2 days . So, I will try my best to follow these steps. Thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      Kiana 4 months ago

      I'm fond of watching t.v.How can I get rid of this problem and study for a long time ?

    • profile image

      Sindhu 5 months ago

      I love songs. I mostly listen to songs when I am free. But I always sing it and don't have concentration on studies when I do so. Can you suggest me something?

    • profile image

      Kalkidane kassaye 5 months ago

      This article is amazing and easy to understand☺

    • profile image

      Mvelelo 5 months ago

      This article its awesome

    • profile image

      kim 5 months ago

      i have 5 exam tomorrow and i never paid any attention,so i hope it work.

    • profile image

      hi 5 months ago

      hi how are you

    • profile image

      Caitlin 5 months ago

      I have a science test tomorrow I'm scared and can only remember stuff if in order someone help I'd be much appreciated

    • profile image

      Ammnah 5 months ago

      Tanx it would be usefull for me ☺☺

    • profile image

      Rahul Kumar 5 months ago

      Thanks for sharing post with us. If anybody needs help for Take Economics Test For Me visit

    • profile image

      Maya 5 months ago

      I have been trying to revise for my AS level ICT exam that is on the coming Monday and with 7 chapters to revise I am very confused and unable to remmeber all that I read with grade boundaries being high i am unable to keep up with revision.

      Please may I be given a good way of memorising easily like even overnight a whole textbook?

    • profile image

      FATEME 5 months ago

      Thank you very much things are very good

    • profile image

      BOB 5 months ago

      this doesn't help!!!!!

    • profile image

      Ujala Khan 6 months ago

      This article is awesome.

    • profile image

      Tsion Mesfin 6 months ago

      This tips are very essential and useful one. Its agreat advice

    • profile image

      Tsion Mesfin 6 months ago

      This tips are very essential and useful one. Its agreat advice

    • profile image

      man 7 months ago

      These tips everyone know but how to follow it

    • profile image

      sharan 7 months ago

      Effective one !!!

    • profile image

      Indrajit Sonowal 8 months ago

      It's a good article & inspiring us

    • profile image

      Kishor.s 8 months ago

      I thought that it was impossible to study 14 chapters in one day, but this article shows me that nothing is impossible.

      Thank you.


    • profile image

      Teddy 8 months ago and don't was very helpful of this article..thanks!

    • profile image

      TEDDY 8 months ago

      Emma you should probably see the article above...its very helpful i actually had to prepare for 8 chapters...helped me a lot ;)

    • profile image

      Emma 8 months ago

      I have nine chapters to complete in a day and it's my finals tomorrow.Can anyone help me how to deal with it?Note:I couldn't study for it all these days because I had a family emergency and had to fly to home country immediately.

    • profile image

      Shreya 8 months ago

      It was a good article inspiring us

    • profile image

      Lee Hin Chung 8 months ago

      I have my English and Chinese tomorrow. Hope this may help me as I have 1 more topic to go.

    • profile image

      amanpreet 8 months ago

      i have my finals of chemistry exam for class 11 tomorrow i hope it works

    • profile image

      Infinitehale 8 months ago

      Got my science tmmrw..hope this works night...

    • profile image

      Madison Rovette 8 months ago

      Very Inspirational....

      Although with just 7 hours left, its quite a challenge!

      I feel very determined to achieve something better right now after reading this..

      Thank you,!!

    • profile image

      catherine jinjika 8 months ago

      great advice

    • profile image

      Neha 8 months ago

      I will try my best

    • profile image

      kaya 8 months ago

      I'll try to figure it out,cause 2morow I'm facing biology.

    • profile image

      bineyam 9 months ago

      reading one day for exam is forbidden

    • profile image

      ria 9 months ago

      making notes in one day for the whole subject is impossible...

    • profile image

      Sakshi 9 months ago

      Thank-you I will try it

      The article was nice

    • profile image

      jade 9 months ago

      This saved me thanks so much.

    • profile image

      bob 9 months ago

      For Grade 6's plz

    • profile image

      Megna 9 months ago


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      Cleo 9 months ago

      Interesting article..

    • profile image

      KEERTHIRAJ 9 months ago


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      High schooler 9 months ago

      Finals in biology tomorrow, Wish me luck

    • profile image

      Angelica 9 months ago

      Rip exam is today for me..I tried studying during my lunch period which is 25 minutes. I memorized only half of the material for Honors Chemistry, hope I pass

    • profile image

      Hdfc 10 months ago

      Teach a friend and taking notes these are nonsense as we have only little time to study our subjects .

    • profile image

      HalaWoloZoroLuffy 10 months ago

      Such a good article. Suggest that you follow these great tips. Don't necessarily work for Languages, but still helpful if you don't have time, even for Languages.

    • profile image

      Diana 10 months ago


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      10 months ago

      how to write my exam without fear tomorrow is my exam

    • profile image

      Saira 10 months ago

      Tomorrow is my exam and all I know is that I am freaking out!

      I'm trying to stay calm

    • profile image

      11 months ago

      Lets see it works or not tomorrow ... Hope so work

    • profile image

      seema grace 11 months ago

      nice tips i am going to follow right now.i hope it works

    • profile image

      jija 11 months ago


    • profile image

      fayton 11 months ago

      Thanks wana try it...

    • profile image

      Zaara Soomro 11 months ago

      I think you should make notes and revise them at the end!

    • profile image

      sonam tshomo 11 months ago

      I think it would it

    • profile image

      Shivanshi 11 months ago

      The tips are really good and I have only 3 days for my exams and I have not completed half of the portions so it's avoid help for me and thanks for sharing your ideas

    • profile image

      ano 12 months ago

      nice work and thanks

    • profile image

      Ash 12 months ago

      Thank u for the tips...

    • profile image

      SMentile 12 months ago

      Thanks im going to try this i got only two day left

    • profile image

      Anne 12 months ago

      Can these tips follow up to spelling bee studies? :s

    • profile image

      methshi 12 months ago

      thanks for the tips

    • profile image

      Bhavya 12 months ago

      Thank you very much. I used this tricks on my computer subject and now I am passed with 80 on 100

    • profile image

      Nyanthoria 12 months ago

      Wow, I totally aced today's exam (science) using these techniques, with time to spare! This guide helped me burst through my conservative bubble -- I turned a brand new notebook into scraps of paper! And I didn't know that mind maps could reinforce my memory so! Thanks! Got another exam (medicine) coming up in two days. Both exams are hurdles, so... Wish me luck!

    • profile image

      priya 12 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      jennifer 13 months ago


    • profile image

      prachiti 13 months ago

      Sometimes life is full of problems

      But this GOLDEN article can solve

      all problems.

    • profile image

      Issac limson 13 months ago

      Does it work for hindi

    • profile image

      Pink 13 months ago

      All within one day??? Its so not possible... Taking down all those notes itself will consume half de day!!!

    • profile image

      anyonyumus 14 months ago

      ita weirdd tips u cant possibly do tht

    • profile image

      paveena 14 months ago

      i just loved it

    • profile image

      merin joy 14 months ago

      brilliant. my fear had flied away from me . and,i start to stdy

    • profile image

      Anonymous 14 months ago

      Nice work ..... It really boosted my confidence....only a day left for social science exam and , have to study 11 chapters so cheers.....

    • profile image

      selmah celine 14 months ago

      thanks a lot hopefully it will help

    • profile image

      aditi 14 months ago

      its gud,actually not that gud but yes it is a little helpful

    • profile image

      Manognya 14 months ago

      Thank you very much.As i felt so much fear.Any way "THANKS"

    • profile image

      tejashwini 14 months ago

      thanks alot