Forgetting an Exam: Study Tips in a Time Crunch

March 7, 2016

Forgetting an Exam: Study Tips in a Time Crunch

First it’s the startling realization. You have a test coming up in approximately—check your phone—eighteen hours. Between life responsibilities and other schoolwork, it completely slipped your mind. Then comes the wave of panic. How can you possibly be ready to test on medical terminology in one night? What do you do after forgetting an exam?

Here are some Dos and Don’ts to help guide you through this stressful situation.

DO stay calm.

Take a few deep breaths and try to quiet your mind. It’s important to avoid letting negative thoughts and fears overwhelm you. There’s nothing you can do about the situation, so don’t allow it to derail your ability to study now. Pull out your course notes and make a to-do list, then funnel all of your focus into the first task. Then move onto the next, and the next, until it’s done.

DON’T stay up all night.

No matter how many medical terms you have to learn, depriving yourself of sleep is never the answer. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep is highly important in learning, attention span, creativity and overall health and wellbeing. If you stay up all night cramming but perform poorly on your healthcare test as a result of sleep deprivation, you haven’t improved your grade and you’ve stressed your mind and body.

DO prioritize.

Cramming isn’t an effective way to learn and retain material. Instead of trying to remember every last scrap of information, prioritize topics based on the likelihood that they’ll appear on the test. If your instructor has provided you with a study guide, work off of that. Put your effort into terms and topics that have the highest chance of boosting your grade.

DON’T change up your methods of studying.

With a deadline like this, you might consider doing something extreme, like reading your entire textbook in one go. But radically switching up your study habits after forgetting an exam won’t help you absorb more information—in fact, the opposite could happen. Now is not the time to abandon your most effective studying strategies. So go ahead and make those terminology flashcards like you usually would.

DO make a plan to correct course.

Maybe this test will go surprisingly well—or maybe it will be one of your lower grades. Either way, it’s important to come up with a plan going forward. A good strategy is to choose a study buddy from class who can keep you on task. If you’re an online student, try tapping into resources like discussion boards to find a class partner in your time zone. You can study together via video chat, phone or email and keep each other on task. The key is to move forward productively and to avoid this mistake in the future.

DON’T give up on your education.

This is a setback. It’s very stressful, but ultimately it’s a fairly common mistake, and you can recover. Above all else, don’t let this send you into a pattern of negative thinking. You can do this. We believe in you!

At some point, we’ve all experienced forgetting an exam and having to study last minute. What strategies worked for you? Let us know!

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About the Author

is an award-winning writer and journalist with years of experience within the healthcare and education space. She has contributed to dozens of periodicals, publications and blogs, and she specializes in providing well-researched and thought-provoking content.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

The UMA Blog covers information and advice for employers and workers at the intersection of healthcare, education and employment. Our contributors are intimately familiar with a wide range of subjects covering professional development, career advancement, workplace politics, healthcare industry specific topics, personal finance, education and so much more. Learn what you need to get ahead and stay ahead.

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