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How to Study for an Exam in One Day

Updated on August 02, 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.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Indrajit Sonowal 3 days ago

      It's a good article & inspiring us

    • profile image

      Kishor.s 11 days 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 2 weeks ago

      Emma...work and don't worry...it was very helpful of this article..thanks!

    • profile image

      TEDDY 2 weeks 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 2 weeks 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 2 weeks ago

      It was a good article inspiring us

    • profile image

      Lee Hin Chung 2 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      amanpreet 2 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Infinitehale 3 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Madison Rovette 3 weeks 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, owlcation.com!!

    • profile image

      catherine jinjika 3 weeks ago

      great advice

    • profile image

      Neha 4 weeks ago

      I will try my best

    • profile image

      kaya 4 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      bineyam 4 weeks ago

      reading one day for exam is forbidden

    • profile image

      ria 5 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Sakshi 5 weeks ago

      Thank-you I will try it

      The article was nice

    • profile image

      jade 5 weeks ago

      This saved me thanks so much.

    • profile image

      bob 6 weeks ago

      For Grade 6's plz

    • profile image

      Megna 6 weeks ago

      Helpful

    • profile image

      Cleo 6 weeks ago

      Interesting article..

    • profile image

      KEERTHIRAJ 7 weeks ago

      NICE

    • profile image

      High schooler 8 weeks ago

      Finals in biology tomorrow, Wish me luck

    • profile image

      Angelica 8 weeks 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 2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      HalaWoloZoroLuffy 2 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 2 months ago

      Helpful

    • profile image

      2 months ago

      how to write my exam without fear tomorrow is my exam

    • profile image

      Saira 2 months ago

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

      I'm trying to stay calm

    • profile image

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      seema grace 3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      jija 3 months ago

      DO MORE OF THESE!

    • profile image

      fayton 3 months ago

      Thanks wana try it...

    • profile image

      Zaara Soomro 3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      sonam tshomo 3 months ago

      I think it would work...love it

    • profile image

      Shivanshi 3 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 4 months ago

      nice work and thanks

    • profile image

      Ash 4 months ago

      Thank u for the tips...

    • profile image

      SMentile 4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Anne 4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      methshi 4 months ago

      thanks for the tips

    • profile image

      Bhavya 4 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 4 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 4 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      jennifer 5 months ago

      Nice

    • profile image

      prachiti 5 months ago

      Sometimes life is full of problems

      But this GOLDEN article can solve

      all problems.

    • profile image

      Issac limson 5 months ago

      Does it work for hindi

    • profile image

      Pink 5 months ago

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

    • profile image

      anyonyumus 6 months ago

      ita weirdd tips u cant possibly do tht

    • profile image

      paveena 6 months ago

      i just loved it

    • profile image

      merin joy 6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Anonymous 6 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 6 months ago

      thanks a lot hopefully it will help

    • profile image

      aditi 6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Manognya 6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      tejashwini 6 months ago

      thanks alot

    • profile image

      Julian 6 months ago

      Thanks for fulfilling my confidence back

    • profile image

      fhh 6 months ago

      It is totally rubbish.I will advice other users not to try these.it is stupid!!!!! And time wastage

    • profile image

      duck producktions 6 months ago

      hope this helps

    • profile image

      Shivani Aggarwal 7 months ago

      thnk u soo much for such tips these tips will help me in my exams days....

    • profile image

      Nuyton 7 months ago

      Wow thanks

    • profile image

      Chevonne 7 months ago

      OMG great tips my exams tomorrow so this is soooooooooooooooo GREAT help!!!

    • profile image

      Maniraj 7 months ago

      after reading this post i hope i can write the exam without stress...

    • profile image

      tara 7 months ago

      wow... simple and easy tips you shared. It will be very useful for students those who are doing distance education. Thank you for th great tips.

      Tara, Edubilla

    • profile image

      amahleNtshwanti 9 months ago

      Thanks I'm writing tomorrow.

    • profile image

      avangalista toricilli 12 months ago

      This is bullshit! How can we write all the important points in a notebook..I have total 24 chapters and I have just 12 hours to read..if I busy with making important notes in a note book.. Then my chances of failng is even more...whatever thanks for posting this

    • profile image

      Arup Jyoti Mohanty 12 months ago

      i can't remember my study for a long time

      so plz tell me how can i improve my memory power??

    • profile image

      kaaya 13 months ago

      good

    • profile image

      ...... ....... 13 months ago

      Nice;

    • profile image

      sha... 14 months ago

      yeah, very useful:)

    • profile image

      Srikrishna 15 months ago

      I am not understanding what to follow

    • profile image

      Ryan 16 months ago

      Very encouraging and helpful. Trying to study for 2 exams in one day. Although its pretty hard to study for a course without my history textbook

    • profile image

      Teekam gurjar 16 months ago

      Thanks for good tips

    • profile image

      srikant 16 months ago

      thanx for giving good tips

    • profile image

      Rimmy 16 months ago

      Thanks so much. At least I'm not panicking anymore.

    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 16 months ago from Dominica

      Some good tips here!

    • profile image

      shanaya 16 months ago

      I m weak in algebra...and i have got only one day yo study 3 chapters....these tips r really helpful...it boosted my confidence...now i m not so scared....thks a lot....

    • profile image

      Zeeshan 17 months ago

      Helpful! Thanx a ton!

    • profile image

      pavan 18 months ago

      thanks

    • profile image

      priya 18 months ago

      thanks fa ur wondrefull tipsssss

    • profile image

      neha 18 months ago

      Nice tips

    • profile image

      terrence ngari 18 months ago

      I usually do not like jotting down notes after reading,I rarely do that. How can I overcome that laziness in me.

    • profile image

      jaspreet 19 months ago

      Thnks

    • profile image

      palak 19 months ago

      its really useful thanxxx........it really helps me to clear the exams

    • profile image

      Rishika 19 months ago

      Keeping calm a night before exam while knowing that other frnds have completed their syllabus is next to impossible

    • profile image

      Zohra 22 months ago

      Thank you , that's really helpful and i appreciate the fact that you're supporting our laziness talents !!!!!

    • profile image

      adriana 22 months ago

      how can i ever fail with these tips !!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      srilu 22 months ago

      very usefull tips

    • profile image

      Karishma 23 months ago

      Very helpful tips I just applied it it was worked

    • profile image

      bastab 23 months ago

      thanks, it's really encouraging and helpful.

    • profile image

      MysteryGirl 23 months ago

      Good

    • profile image

      pavan 23 months ago

      it is very nice . tnx so much

    • profile image

      kiruthiga 2 years ago

      It's very useful

    • profile image

      Gareth 2 years ago

      Thanks and i hope it be useful

    • profile image

      jp 2 years ago

      Im going to study 2 books ( science and math) in just one day. :( kill me now

    • profile image

      irene 2 years ago

      Thankx this tips somehow gave courage!!!!!

    • profile image

      sum1 2 years ago

      Great:)

    • profile image

      Nisha 2 years ago

      It's great . I like this type of ideas.

    • profile image

      bagh 2 years ago

      thanks......

    • profile image

      Hussain 2 years ago

      Of great help

    • profile image

      mimi 2 years ago

      list of the tips is long don't know which one to use

    • profile image

      mirza 2 years ago

      I cnt undrstnd the lsns proply

    • profile image

      aisha 2 years ago

      Informative... (y)

    • profile image

      jeje 2 years ago

      it's silly but i thought im the only one doing the asterisk

    • profile image

      swathi 2 years ago

      beautyful tips say me some more tips please

    • profile image

      sandhya 2 years ago

      nice tips donkey tips

    • madamrekha profile image

      Rekha Kumari 2 years ago from Delhi India

      Nice and informative content.

      voted up

      Regards

    • profile image

      Ashraya Shrestha 3 years ago

      Thanks for tips

    • profile image

      Ashraya Shrestha 3 years ago

      There are many mathematical problems hard to remember points.

    • minore profile image

      minore 3 years ago from india

      Thanks for the tips............

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