By Sonia Seetaramadoo, Applied Mathematics ‘14
It’s that time of year again at FIT…the first wave of EXAMS! While some people have been studying for weeks, others haven’t, and it’s most likely because they did not have enough time. I would know because in most cases, I am the one of those people. This is where ‘cramming’ comes in.
Cramming is when you study intensively a couple days before an exam and are trying to remember multiple sections of content. You HAVE the right to panic, but don’t panic too much. Not having been able to properly study for an exam doesn’t mean you will fail it. From my personal experience, it is very possible to cram and get an A on the exam.
ONE important reminder before I start:
- Make sure you GO TO CLASS. I cannot stress that enough. Even if you aren’t in the mood, you should go. If you don’t feel like paying attention, just sit in there and absorb what you can. You will later realize that whatever has been covered in class will come to you when you need it, hopefully.
Another very important thing to note is that just because you crammed and succeeded the first time does not mean that can get away with that for other exams. Pacing yourself while studying is extremely important. You have to give your brain time to assimilate what you have learned. But this is not what my post is suggesting.
How to cram effectively at Florida Tech from a math/engineering point of view
There are certain sacred rules you have to abide by. Even if you’re not disciplined, you can incorporate these tactics into your study behavior.
- Don’t panic
Panicking is useless. After all, you’ve already been through a month of school. If you slacked the whole month, there is no use saying “Oh I should/could have …” You haven’t. It’s over, but not the end of the world.
- Go to your professors
If you have enough time, even a day before the exams, work out the maximum number of questions and bring whatever you did not understand to your professor. They might not be too happy if you didn’t show up to class but they will do their best to help.
- Pick a remote spot to study
Preferably not in your room, away from your roommates and anybody you possibly know. Studying by yourself when you are on a deadline has its advantages. You are not distracted by anybody, hence can complete the maximum amount of work. I would suggest the library or the jungle. The trouble with Olin Lounge is that you probably have a higher chance of seeing someone you know and becoming distracted when you need to focus.
- Work in teams of serious people
If your best friend is in the same class as you are, study separately. Of course, work together on problems you don’t understand, but don’t study together the whole time. Set a meeting time with an interval of 2 hours to discuss problems. Or simply study with people you don’t really know. You will be less inclined to be distracted.
- About technology…
I know we are in a tech school but turn off phones, laptops, tablets, or whatever technological gadgets that entice you to “play”. They are probably the reason you are behind in the first place, especially Facebook. Funnily enough, it is only when you need to study the most that refreshing your Facebook page a thousand times seem the most interesting thing to do in the whole world.
- Outline the chapters and sections
Make sure you list the sections you have to study, and then take out the main points or formulas and write them down on paper. In other words, make your own notes. Even if you don’t have time to work out examples and problems, you are aware of the basics, hence you can figure your way out.
- Solution Manuals
Make sure you look at as many problems and solutions as possible. Even if you are not working them out, they will stick in your head and hopefully jog something later on. But the best thing to do is to take the time and work the problems.
- DO NOT PULL ALL-NIGHTERS
Contrary to popular beliefs, all-nighters do not help. Trust me on this, I have probably pulled more all-nighters than anybody else on campus. They don’t help me at all. You might as well just cram hours before your exam, because these will probably provide the same benefit. You NEED sleep. Your brain WILL work more effectively with sleep.
While I do not guarantee an A if you follow my methods, I guarantee that you are less likely to fail. I still think that by going to class and doing all the assigned homework (by that, I mean actually working them through and not copying from solution manuals or anything like that), you should do fine on the exams.
Do not forget, there is the Academic Support Center that is here to help you if you feel overwhelmed.
Best wishes on those exams. It’s time to dominate the semester!