Late-Night Crammin' by Nicholas Munn, Horton, MI Papers scattered here and there, half-eaten slices of pizza lay on a plate shoved to the side of the desk. Mike frantically turns the pages of his tattered notebook. "In order to determine the chemical structure of the isohycarbonide ..." he mutters as his eyes start to droop. He stares at his alarm clock on the dresser. It's 1: 00 a.m. Soon, Mike drifts into a restless slumber. For many people, this is the scene the night before exams.Cramming for exams is an age-old tradition. Every year, we say "I'm not going to cram this year," but we always do. So, if we are doomed to last-minute cram-a-thons, what can we do? Although we can't avoid cramming, there are steps we can take to help us study better, and avoid the exhaustion afterwards.One method for studying which seems to work best is to study in groups. Invite your friends over for a study party. You can ask each other questions, which prevents you from falling asleep while you study. Also, have fun with your studying. It doesn't have to be dull and boring. Think of creative ways to study. Make a game of it, like Chemistry Jeopardy, or play Hangman with the words.If you have ever crammed, you know it is almost impossible to stay awake toward the end. To stop this, don't study continuously. Study for an hour, then take a 15-minute break. Moreover, this will prevent the brain from overloading, which will give you time to absorb what you studied. Vary what you do; change subjects occasionally.Teachers aren't out to get you (well, most of them). Usually, they will tell you what will be on the test. Don't waste time on things the teacher didn't go over very much. Study the sections that you are good at and master them; focus on your aptitudes. Most people will not significantly improve on what they don't understand in a night.Finally, stay calm. Anxiety has been shown to dramatically reduce scores on tests. If you follow these simple rules, you should have nothing to worry about. You'll do fine; now go out and take those tests, knowing you will do your best.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.