Last Updated: May 24, 2017
It’s the night before a huge test in your hardest class. You haven't reviewed your notes, looked back through your textbook, or even thought about the test until just now. That familiar gut-sinking panic begins to set in. There is so much to do and so little time. But have no fear, CollegeXpress is here! The following five tips will help you to get through the night, ace your test, and establish better study habits in the future.
1. Don't waste time with “what-ifs”
There is no use crying over spilled milk. You've procrastinated—accept it and move on to preparing for your test. Worrying about how much easier it would have been if you'd only started studying a week before like your teacher suggested is pointless. It will only waste valuable time and energy. The best thing you can possibly do now is calm down and focus all of your time and energy on your studies.
2. Don't get distracted
Whether it’s Snapchat, texting, YouTube, or any other of the multitude of distractions plaguing teens today, I have one word of advice: resist. Your Instagram story can wait, Facebook will still be there tomorrow, and your friends will forgive you if you lose your streak. If the temptation is too strong, turn off your phone, tablet, etc. and put it in another room. Technology can often suck us in, and before you know it you've lost half an hour. So practice some self-discipline and resist the temptation to become distracted.
3. Prioritize your efforts
Focus your efforts on broad concepts first, then use this framework to add in relevant, specific details. This becomes easier with more experience, so don't worry if you struggle with it now. Analyze previous tests this teacher has given before, and get a feel for what they think is necessary for you to know. The last thing you want to do is waste time memorizing the dates of all the battles of the Civil War if your teacher prefers essay-based tests. So hone in on what's relevant, and spend most of your time studying those ideas and topics.
4. Go to bed
There comes a time when staying up late and studying becomes counter-productive and you're better off just getting a good night’s rest. This line varies for everyone, depending on how much sleep you need. I personally need six to seven hours on average to feel refreshed and ready to go the next morning. This being said, many teens, particularly underclassmen, need more. So listen to your body, and don't be afraid to hit the hay. At this point in the game it's better to sleep well and remember everything you did study (as well as being able to figure out other answers logically) than stay up late, cram, and forget everything.
5. Don't do it again!
There’s nothing worse than knowing that you've done this before, remembering how horrible it was, and doing it again. So take a personal pledge now, while the feelings of remorse and despair are still fresh, to avoid procrastinating at all times. This is easier said than done. We're not perfect, and we will all still put off an assignment from time to time. But by promising ourselves that we will work to avoid these negative situations, we can establish better study habits as a whole and help to directly address the problem (procrastination), not just the symptoms (panic before a test).
Related: 10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination