You know how it goes, you get your marks back on the latest exam and promised things would be different this time. You were going to make a study schedule and actually stick to it; your notes were going to be perfectly organised and you had grand plans to review them on a regular basis.

You weren’t going to procrastinate studying, you had a pile of past papers to work through and you were going to get your life together. But exams have rolled back around and turns out you haven’t actually studied anything at all. Here’s what you can do:

1. Make a plan

If you’ve gotten to the night before the exam and realised that you’ve spent the last four weeks watching Netflix and telling people you’re studying instead of, you know, actually studying, you might feel like you can’t waste a single second on anything else before you start cramming.

Ease up, turbo. Take five minutes to figure out how you’re going to tackle everything. Don’t get bogged down in making an extensive and neat plan, just grab a pen and some paper and scribble down the areas you have literally no knowledge on and work through that.

2. Focus on major points

When you’ve ignored your teachers and haven’t studied properly for an exam (aka 90% of the student population), you’re not going to have enough time to learn every single term, definition and dot point. Accept this early and cut the fluff–you’re going to be focusing on hammering home the major points and concepts that will get you the most marks.

This is where your syllabus comes in handy. Have a look at what makes up major components for your subject and focus on them. Having something solid written down for the big mark questions will get your more points than nothing on the page, and from there you can bullshit your way through the question.

3. Get some sleep

It gets to a point where no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be able to cram another quote or case study into your brain. Just go to bed. It can be hard to pack it in when you’re in ‘oh god I’m going to fail’ mode, but if you’re dead tired it doesn’t matter if you spend another hour going over your notes.

The content won’t stick and actually being able to stay awake during the exam is going to help you infinitely more when it comes to recalling answers.

 For future reference

Remember how crap it is trying to cram for an exam and study earlier next time. (Yeah, we all know this isn’t going to happen.)

Need some help studying? Suss our Year 12 Survival Guide for study tips that actually work.