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.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Unknown 

      6 days ago

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

    • profile image

      BELLA 

      7 days ago

      NOT BAD

    • profile image

      wills katsvairo 

      8 days ago

      it boosted my confidence wills

    • profile image

      nyarie 

      8 days ago

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

    • profile image

      florence 

      9 days ago

      good concepts to follow

    • profile image

      NITHRA 

      13 days ago

      better.

    • profile image

      kritika 

      2 weeks ago

      Thank u so much sir really Inspiring

    • profile image

      bezz 

      5 weeks ago

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

      me:bezz

    • profile image

      nyarie 

      6 weeks ago

      this article is so educative

    • profile image

      Sivashsnmugam R 

      6 weeks ago

      Good ideas thank you

    • profile image

      Sai 

      7 weeks ago

      I will try my best.

    • profile image

      Sai 

      7 weeks ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Sai 

      7 weeks ago

      I did not have that much time to prepare

    • profile image

      BRIGHT STARS 

      8 weeks ago

      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.

    • profile image

      nokuthula 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Deepak Sharma 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Sofi 

      3 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Tom 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      procrastinationstation 

      3 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      go for exams 

      4 months ago

      Good to know these things.

    • profile image

      tabish 

      4 months ago

      that s good

    • profile image

      Jayaram 

      4 months ago

      I want to study genetics in 11 hours

    • profile image

      Kud@ 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Nyasha 

      4 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Mimi Marova 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      neven 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      tinashley 

      4 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      maedelyn 

      4 months ago

      thank you its helping. really liked it

    • profile image

      Noster 

      4 months ago

      I am in love with step no. 5

    • profile image

      Noster 

      4 months ago

      I like the technique no. 5

    • profile image

      RIT Tiger 

      5 months ago

      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......

    • profile image

      divyansh author of the problem 

      5 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Ashley Marufu 

      6 months ago

      But you should have read the stuff,

    • profile image

      Unaninamous 

      6 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Fatima 

      6 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      gowtham 

      6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Aarthi 

      6 months ago

      its good i like it

    • profile image

      d j 

      6 months ago

      Very nice and good

    • profile image

      Ushaarvind 

      6 months ago

      Now a days more than the kids, parents are panic about the exams. I wish to add some more points in this blog. First try to finish smaller chapter. Refer previous year question paper and try to solve 50% of it. Try to write down some important points to refer before the exam time. Have healthy food and enough sleep.

    • profile image

      unknown 

      6 months ago

      I hated it

    • profile image

      DJ Ari 

      6 months ago

      Its just that I'm scared. I have a Social Studies exam tomorrow and I'm studying really hard. Social is a lot so as I'm reading my brain is begging for a break but I'm saying no. Hope I pass, and so do y'all

    • profile image

      T. Y 

      6 months ago

      I want to write my first external exam and I have not tried it but i hope it will give me a positive results I will give u a comment on how it went thank u

    • profile image

      sfergr 

      6 months ago

      I have an exam tmmrw and im gonna study hard to succeed unlike some people i care about my grades

    • profile image

      non of your bezzwax 

      6 months ago

      I am lazy that's the problem

    • profile image

      nobody 

      6 months ago

      good one

    • profile image

      Nocturnal 

      6 months ago

      That moment when you have midterms this week

    • profile image

      jkl; 

      6 months ago

      i will pass

    • profile image

      Ag 

      6 months ago

      Today is my science exam; A little stress released

    • profile image

      divyansh shivashok 

      7 months ago

      day after tomorrow is my SST exam and i am feeling super confident right now. i am gonna CRACK the exam!!! wish me luck so that i can get good grades in my finals. thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      Mohi tripathi 

      7 months ago

      Very good i will surely try it

    • profile image

      Amaim 

      7 months ago

      This article really made me feel relaxed. Tommorow is my bio preboard paper and time is afternoon 3:35. I hope that my paper will be the best because I am going to try these tricks.

    • profile image

      anushka 

      7 months ago

      Cool idea

    • profile image

      Ananya 

      9 months ago

      Gosh!!yeah I have wasted a lot of time before and there is only one thing repenting.

      Thanks for the tip....hope it does work...I'm freaking out three days left for 9chapters..

    • profile image

      Boanerge Raj 

      9 months ago

      Thanks for helping to study .I will obay the points now on

    • profile image

      ann 

      9 months ago

      please change the topics

      we want to throw awy the exam stress when exam is tommorrow

    • profile image

      imfailing 

      9 months ago

      i have 9 finals beginning in 2 days and im a senior, which means im gonna cram a bunch of info in my brain. i havent studied that much but im hoping for the best. thanks for the tips

    • profile image

      jopie 

      10 months ago

      maths exam tomorrow but i got a lot of help from here.

    • profile image

      Joe 

      10 months ago

      THIS HELPED ALOT!

    • profile image

      claud 

      10 months ago

      English essay tomorrow, have not even studied.

      AHHHHHHH

      this was very helpful

    • profile image

      Eliza 

      10 months ago

      History exam tomorrow and haven't even started yet. Thanks for the help though...

    • profile image

      Soumya Das 

      10 months ago

      Very effective

    • profile image

      MAAHLOX 

      10 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Albar binge Hasib 

      11 months ago

      Good tip I think it may work

    • profile image

      Ekaterina 

      11 months 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 

      11 months ago

      Thanks owlication team for such useful tips

      -Wish u all have a nice day

    • profile image

      Squirrel (not actual name) 

      11 months 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 

      11 months 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 

      11 months ago

      indeed it was very helpful thanks

    • profile image

      Alishka Seikh 

      11 months ago

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

    • profile image

      kaustubh deore 

      11 months ago

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

    • profile image

      kirti naik 

      11 months 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 

      11 months 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 

      11 months ago

      I didn't really much get it.my 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 

      12 months ago

      Tomorrow to next day there is my exam of science

    • profile image

      archit arya 

      12 months ago

      may god help me with physics

    • profile image

      Chulbul Pandey 

      12 months ago

      probably

    • profile image

      BJ 

      12 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 

      12 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 

      12 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 

      12 months ago

      I don't think so it will help me.

    • profile image

      Trina 

      12 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Hillary 

      12 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 

      13 months ago

      Excellent study techniques

    • profile image

      jasmine 

      13 months ago

      it did help!!!

    • profile image

      FLORA KAULI 

      13 months ago

      It has helped me a lot thank you.

    • profile image

      Sangeetha 

      13 months ago

      Helpful

    • profile image

      Lovella 

      14 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 

      14 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 

      15 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 

      15 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 

      15 months ago

      This article is amazing and easy to understand☺

    • profile image

      Mvelelo 

      15 months ago

      This article its awesome

    • profile image

      kim 

      15 months ago

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

    • profile image

      hi 

      15 months ago

      hi how are you

    • profile image

      Caitlin 

      15 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 

      15 months ago

      Tanx it would be usefull for me ☺☺

    • profile image

      Rahul Kumar 

      15 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Maya 

      15 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 

      16 months ago

      Thank you very much things are very good

    • profile image

      BOB 

      16 months ago

      this doesn't help!!!!!

    working

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