Mentally Prepping for the Inevitable Cram

The first round of exams came like a ton of bricks falling from the sky. I was not ready. Falling behind is the absolute worst thing you can let yourself do here at Rutgers. It starts from the very beginning. If you get your books late, you better catch up right out of the gate so that it’s not time to play catch up before the exam. If you do this, you’ll never have time to actually review your materials because you’re constantly trying to view them for the first time.


So we all tell ourselves this… but inevitably exams come around and you’re behind. You’re freaking out and you three days before your exam that you still haven’t opened the textbook for. Panic sets in and you figure you should a) stay up every night and study- diminishing your sleep to about 3 hours a night or b) give up and wing this exam along with the exams that you could’ve easily prepped for- an “I give up all around” sort of attitude I often find myself adopting.


WRONG. Neither of these are going to help you. I’m not promising you’re going to get an A if you’re behind, but I’m telling you that stressing too much is not going to help. There are certain things to remember if you’re ever in this position and regret ever being behind in the first place. Mentally, you can clear your mind and really help yourself really focus and be happy.


  1. Take a breath. Honestly look at your work and try to organize it from most important to least important. Try to get a little bit done in every area- this really does relieve a lot of stress.

  2. Don’t forget about YOU. Sometimes we get caught up in our notes, in our stress, and in our hatred for our procrastination. Breaks are good. Get to the gym and walk on the treadmill for half an hour. It’s been a beautiful October, heck, inhale some fresh air rather than the steam off of your coffee at 2am. Take a hot shower and just stand in the water letting your thoughts flow down the drain with that clump of hair you really hope is yours. Letting yourself be still and having a clear mind for a short time each day really allows you to wake up feeling refreshed. I find that studying with a clear mind and a positive attitude always helps me to learn and retain more information and go into a test with a lot less anxiety.

  3. Sleep. We’ve all done it. You have an exam on Friday so you decide that Wednesday you will stay up all night and study and get a good night sleep the night before- foolproof, eh? But, nevertheless, we wake up Friday and still feel exhausted. You need to develop a solid sleeping schedule right off the bat. I find that the sleep I get two nights before is really what affects my performance. So that “staying up on Wednesday to get some sleep on Thursday” can actually put you in a fog on Friday and the week approaching. I know it’s easier said than done, especially if you have a lot of work to catch up on… but SLEEP. Try to get your work done between classes and during your free time within the day. You’ll actually surprise yourself with the quality and quantity of work that you do, and you’ll thank yourself as you can hit the hay before 1 am.

  4. Smile. Everyone is stressed around exam time. We get it. People are worried and deal with their anxiety differently from one another. You can’t always freeze time and catch up on your work or make your best friend pass their Organic Chemistry exam, but you can control what you do. If you’re behind… it is what it is. You can try your best, study in small increments and keep a good head on your shoulders. Spreading positivity to others will not only help those around you feel a little better, but it will also give you a sense of clarity and peace, regardless of what’s coming up.

GOOD LUCK and remember to relax and be happy 🙂