Share with your student friends

Get ready for your next exam

Start for free

Preparing for an exam in just three days may seem daunting, but with the right strategies it is entirely possible to study efficiently, optimize time, and get the much-needed A+ grade.

Plan your 3-day mission

I know: three days is a limited amount of time, so first you need to prioritize reviewing the most common topics that come up on the exam. 

Don’t make the mistake of studying things in chronological order, but spend a good two hours skimming everything you need to know for that exam. 

Then make a list of concepts you feel weakest on: not big topics – for example, don’t just put “organic chemistry,” but put “SN1 reaction” on this list. You are likely to end up with about 40-50 concepts.

You can also use dende’s “Concept” feature that pulls key concepts from your study documents and creates quizzes tailored to you

Each quiz is designed to test you on those core concepts, helping you check your understanding and identify any areas where you need to focus more.

This list of topics is what I call the “red list”: it is the list you need to focus on to succeed in preparing for an exam in 3 days.

How to study for exam: the cramming strategy

Now that you have your red list: how do you effectively learn and understand all this content in time for the exam? 

Here is my simple three-day strategy:

  • Day 1:
    • 8am-10am: create the red-list; 
    • 10am-13am: ask yourself questions and study with flashcards
    • 14am-19am: spend the afternoon focusing on half of your big topics (if there are 50, you will go over 25 of them)
  • Day 2:
    • 8am-13am: finish studying the other half of your big topics
    • 14-19 am: active blurting 
  • Day 3
    • morning: quizzes and multiple-choice tests
    • afternoon: quick review techniques

Day 1

Start from questions!

I know we’re all used to half-copying the textbook, calling them notes, and telling ourselves we’ll come back to it later, but we don’t have time to do that. 

So start asking yourself questions, before you have even studied the subject: spend the first hour or two of each review session attempting 30 multiple-choice or 15 open-ended questions.

Upload course materials to dende – such as PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes or textbook chapters. Use flashcards to solve exercises and concepts. Focus on big topics: if you are preparing for a clinical dermatology exam, for example, focus on macro-topics such as inflammatory skin diseases or autoimmune diseases.

how to study efficiently for a test

I know it is not easy, because we are not taught to ask questions before we study, but after a one-hour warm-up, you will begin to familiarize yourself with the types of questions and know exactly how you will be evaluated for the exam. 

One tip: if the topics are really difficult to tackle, the best thing to do is to find the model answers or solutions to the practice questions. 

That way you understand the method they use to arrive at the answer and, of course, as you go through the questions, always keep track of the topics you have difficulty with (to put on the phantom red list).

Focus on big topics

After spending at least an hour answering questions, now stick to the red list topics head-on. 

Let’s say you have to do 25 concepts out of 50 today. You need to go through each one and focus on understanding, not memorizing. 

For example, if the topic is “inflammation and its major phases, mediators involved,” the first thing you do is spend 20 to 30 minutes reading the lecture slides and notes you took earlier to understand what information you need to know.

Day 2

Finish your red list

It’s day two, so it’s time to finish the big topics on your red list. Spend all morning reviewing slides, lectures and notes for each topic. Be focused: since you don’t have much time, these need to be high-powered study sessions.

The key thing to do at this time is to focus on understanding this big concept and then simplify it in your head. This means that once you gain a basic understanding of the topic, try asking yourself some questions or explaining the topic aloud to yourself. 

You can test yourself with the recall questions, but if you start from scratch, then understanding concepts and trying to explain thema aloud is essential. Not only because it accelerates the actual learning, but it also tells immediately whether or not you understood something. 

Dealing with a defined number of topics per day allows you to maintain a steady pace of study, avoiding both information overload and procrastination.

The blurting study technique

For the last part of the study session on day 2, I recommend that you engage in active blurting.

Blurting is a form of active recall, a technique in which you actively retrieve information from memory. Blurting involves writing down all the information you remember about a topic (no matter the order or whether it is correct to begin with) and then going back to your notes to find out what you missed or got wrong. 

Since active blurting involves rapid recall and repetition, you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. This makes it ideal for last-minute review sessions or when you only have limited study time available.

Day 3: what to do ONE DAY before your exam

Study with multiple choice test

So, the last day before the exam has finally arrived. Don’t panic! Start right away by practicing a ton of questions for at least three or four hours and make sure you thoroughly analyze the answers.

how to study efficiently for a test

Since these are supposed to be high-performance review sessions, I also recommend that you take quizzes and multiple-choice tests. I’ll explain you why:

  • Answering multiple-choice questions requires active mental effort to recall information from memory. This kind of active retrieval is an effective way to consolidate knowledge and improve long-term memory.
  • Multiple choice questions can reveal areas where you need further study. When you answer a question and get it wrong, it highlights a gap in your understanding of the material, indicating which topics need more attention.
  • After answering a multiple-choice question, you receive immediate feedback on the correctness of your answer. This allows you to quickly assess your understanding of the material and correct any errors.

Speeding revision up: some tricks

Right now you need to focus on quick comprehension of topics: one review technique is to watch lecture videos or even YouTube videos on the topic at 1.5x or 2x speed. Spend at least a couple of hours doing this activity.

This is an effective way to get a general idea of the content and refresh your memory on topics you already know. This quick review allows you to cover more material in less time, making the whole study process more efficient.

Spend the second part of the afternoon making concept maps: choose 4 macro-topics (if you are studying, for example, anatomy, a macro-topic will be “anatomy of the skeletal system”) and map them visually. 

Creating a concept map involves active information processing, so it helps you improve memorization of the macro-topic.

In addition, a concept map forces you to identify key concepts and the relationships between them in a concise and meaningful way.

So, you have now arrived at the end of the third day. Take it easy: you’ve done everything you can to catch up and squeeze the most revision out of the little time you have. So walk into the exam room confident and ready to get the highest grade!

Share with your student friends


Get ready for your next exam

Start for free
Alec Conti

Before an exam, I always felt I wasn't ready enough, which caused me anxiety. To solve this, I created I lead the product team, aiming to bring AI learning to the world and help every student believe a little more in themselves.