There are two types of cramming. One where you have been studying regularly, and just want to do one massive last-minute review of all your notes before your exam. And the type of cramming where you’ve fallen behind on your studies, and now pulling one or two all-nighters is your only chance of survival while you study for medical school entry Australia. There are good arguments against engaging with either type of cramming, but if you must do it, it’s best to be smart about it. Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your next cramming session.
1 – Don’t stay up all night
Sleep is very important, and staying up all night will very likely do you more harm than good when it comes to your chances of succeeding in the upcoming exam. Sleep helps your brain commit information to memory, it regulates your stress levels, it can help your body deal with anxiety, and — of course — it also replenishes your energy, which is something you’ll need if you expect to be able to focus by the time you take the exam.
So even if you are not able to get the golden 8 hours of sleep that doctors recommend, you should plan your cram session in a way that allows you to get at least a couple of hours of shut-eye before you leave for the exam. And maybe get a nap or two during your commute as well.
Just make sure you set a ton of alarms before going to bed because getting up on time after a cram session will not be easy.
2 – Get everything you need in one place
The less you need to go around looking for notes and books, the more you’ll be able to get done during your cram session. That’s because every time you need to stop to look for something you lose focus on whatever you’re learning, and trying to refocus after that will waste energy, and energy will be in short supply after hours of study. Having a computer nearby so you can access GAMSAT preparation materials and other free resources online is also useful, just make sure you’re not using that computer to procrastinate.
3 – Be smart about caffeine
Caffeine doesn’t give you energy, it just increases the time it takes before you feel tired. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain. Adenosine is the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy and tired. So the smart way to use it is to take a caffeinated drink at the start of your study session, not the middle of it. Then again every three hours or so.
4 – Keep the blood flowing
When cramming, it is tempting to plant yourself in one spot and not move until you are done studying or you need a bathroom break, but that’s the wrong approach. That’s because staying in one place for long periods is both uncomfortable and bad for your blood flow; it will make you get sore, tired, and cranky a lot faster. The smart approach is to take a break to stretch and walk around at least once an hour, as this will allow you to stay alert and focused much longer.