How To Study For An Exam in Less Time

How To Study For An Exam in Less Time? It’s 10 pm Saturday night and you are staring blankly at the wall. It is looking as blank as your mind right now. Your big exam is next week, and you have prepared… well urm.. nothing.

Now, you’re googling how to study for an exam in LESS time

And now you’re here, reading this article.

Trying your best to unscrew your life.

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Don’t worry, I’ve been there, done that.

Googling the exact same things and the first tip I got from the so-called study expert website is “don’t wait until the last minute” or give yourself enough time to study.

Want to know about our exam essentials?

Noise-cancelling headphones to eliminate distractions

Beverage warmer for that warm coffee

Planner to write down your exam plan and to-do list

Like seriously, if I had the time to study, I won’t be googling “How to study effectively for the exam if you’re short of time”.


Sometimes, even if you have prepared early, some of the topics are still left unrevised (excuses). Especially nowadays, the topics in each course are a lot (more excuses).

The clock is ticking, let’s get straight to the tips.

If you want to know more about study less study smart, how to write a thesis fast and how to self-study, you can find it here!

1. Set the goals and target for the exam

study tips, exam tips

This should be the first step that sort of anchors the overall preparation for the exam. Let’s be real if you never pay attention in class (you should) and this is the first time you want to study about it (seriously?), don’t set getting an A as your target.

Unless you’re sort of genius. Be realistic and set an achievable target.

If you know roughly about the topics and you have notes from the class, well you are roughly 40-50% prepared for the exam. If you’re in this category, getting an A is an achievable target.

Let’s go to the other spectrum.

When you know nothing at all about the topic (seriously, what are you doing?), never heard any word from the lecture or don’t even know the existence of the subject in your course, the target should be at least to pass the subject

By setting appropriate & realistic goals, you will feel more confident when taking the exam and be able to remove some unnecessary pressure from yourself.

Take your planner and write down all the goals and targets. Research has shown, by writing down the goal, the chances of you achieving it is higher.

Our pick:

2. Strategize the exam plan

study tips, exam tips

Now you have the target, you need to know how to shoot the arrow.

Can you make it? Yes.

Will you survive? Maybe.

The strategy is so important as it dictates how well you will perform in the exam.

The question is, how to strategize?

  • Look at the component of the exam. Is it only MCQ or is it an essay? Or is it a combination of both?
  • Know the marks given in each component. It is better if you know about the weightage. How many percentages does each component contribute to the overall mark? If the essay is 60% and MCQ is 40%, you can put your focus more on the essay.
  • Usually, essay topics will test the depth of the knowledge. How well you know the topic whereas the MCQ test more on the breadth of the topic, how much you know.
  • Set the minimum marks you can achieve from each component based on your target.

3. Set the exam plans

study tips, exam tips

Next, set up the exam timetable.

The timeline.

The exam plans.

  • List ALL the topics you need to study for the exams
  • Collect all past year question papers. Identify which topic is frequently asked for essay and MCQ. See the question that gets asked repeatedly. Make that topic your priority

If you don’t have this, it is okay. Try to identify the topic that your lecturer has given emphasised during the lecture.

If you are still unable to identify you can ask your top performer friends to give you tips on the topics.

This step is important as it will give you the clue where to start.

The high-importance topic should be revised first before you move on to the other topics. The topic that is core to the course should be understood and revised first.

  • Create your exam plans. With the countdown. 5 more days, 3 more days. List down each topic you need to cover each day.
  • Use the time-blocking technique. Set a 1-2 hour time block in each session based on the density of the topic.

If you are unsure what time management technique to implement, worry not, I have got you covered!

4. During revision or study session

study tips, exam tips

What to do during this session?

Active Learning.

Actively engage in each study session.

Do not read and re-read. Or passively listening to the recorded audio of the lecture

  • Take a piece of blank paper. Jot down as much as you know from the topic without looking at the book or notes. Start the thinking process. Look at the objective of the topic and try to recall whatever you can and write it down.
  • This is important for yourself to identify how much you know about the topic. Set a timer to 10-15 minutes. Once you’re done. Take the reference book/lecture notes and identify the important point that is missing.
  • Use red paper to write the key point in each explanation. Repeat each session using the Pomodoro timer. For each session, you can keep 40-50min active learning with 10-20min rest.
  • Answer question.

Use the question bank

Take the pass yearbook or questions from the library. Try your best to answer as much as you can. Sometimes you feel like you know nothing, but your brain does wonder, and you can relate to the different topics when it comes to answering the question.

Take it seriously as if it’s the real exam. Spend 15-20 minutes answering and checking your answer.

Analyze how the question awards the mark and identify key points needed in each essay-based question.

If again, no pass-year paper, just create a question based on the subtopics. Or just use the end-of-topic quiz in the reference book

The idea is that you test yourself first, how well you know the topic before you start the revision process. Emphasize the thing that you know nothing about

TIPS: If you’re staying in the hostel, slot in time for discussion with your peers. Let’s say certain topics are important, but understanding it might take some time, ask your friends to help you explain the concept to you first. Most of them will be happy to help explain things. Just don’t take all their time and expect them to teach you from A-Z.

Explain to them what you have understood so far. Ask them if your explanation is correct and what is the important point that is missing in your explanation.

5. Slot in time for breaks and sleep.

study tips, exam tips

As much as the exam is important. So does your health. You don’t want all the efforts to go down the drain by getting sick on the day of the exam. Get some supplements if needed

Step out of your room when it’s time for lunch or dinner. Go get proper food. Don’t just fuel your body with fast food and red bull.

Most importantly, get enough sleep. Sleep is important to consolidate memory. Whatever you have learned you need to keep it safely in your brain. Think of it as storing all your notes nicely in the file and storing it properly in the designated space.

So, when you need it, you know where it is and are able to retrieve it safely. That’s the purpose of sleep.

Don’t go to exams sleepless. Seriously, you will go blank and just stare at the exam paper. That cannot happen.

Go get your sleep. If you haven’t slept, sleep now, and thank me later. Use these sleep masks for optimum sleep.

That’s about it. Some tips that work well for me. Hope it works well for you too. Just remember after this exam, we must set the aim to study earlier for the next exam. So, the advice of ‘give yourself enough time to study ‘will make sense to us.

Go get ‘em, tiger!


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