How do I stay fit during the exams?

Started learning too late? With these 7 measures you will save what can be saved

by Tim Reichel

Studying could be so easy. Before the semester, you had a rough plan, then went to most of the lectures and always wrote diligently. You always had your exams in view and started learning in good time (already during the lecture period). The examination phase can come. You are perfectly prepared, well rested and relaxed.

It would be nice.

Unfortunately, the reality is different for 99 percent of the students. Almost nobody starts exam preparation in time. There are many reasons for this: lack of time, lack of motivation, incorrect assessment of the learning effort, naivety and so on.

No matter what ultimately led to you being late and defaulting on your learning, it's up to you to get out of this situation. The bad news is, it gets a bit stressful and requires discipline. But the good news is, it's not impossible to get a good exam result even though you don't have much time to study.

And: You don't have to face this task alone. I'll help you.


Read the DOEDL method for free!


Late to study? You can do that now!

Just because you started your exam preparation too late doesn't mean you can write off your exam period. Maybe you don't start with optimal conditions and could have made things easier for yourself - but these considerations will no longer help you and in the worst case even undermine your remaining motivation.

Therefore: don't get angry, accept the situation as it is and try to make the best of your situation. Because if you use your remaining time wisely and choose the right course of action, there may be more to your exam than just damage limitation.

Follow these seven tips:


1. Analyze your situation!

Before you start learning head over heels under time pressure, you should pause for a moment and analyze your situation. If you determine your starting position in the first step, you will have a much clearer picture of what exactly needs to be done. You can use and focus your energy much better if you know your starting point and have determined exactly where you want to go.

First of all, get an overview of this: Which exam has been taken? When will the appointment be? How much time is left? How does the examiner tick? What other obligations do you have during this period? What are your expectations for the exam? What are your goals Do some of your fellow students have to take the same exam? Can you team up with them Try to understand your situation as best you can. This effort pays off.

Reading Tip: The 10 Basic Principles of Successful Exam Preparation Most Students Ignore


2. Concentrate on the essentials!

No matter how much time you have available for your exam preparation: You can never learn everything there is to learn about your subject. There is simply too much information and complex relationships that you can never fully understand and learn. So you have to set priorities and leave out some (peripheral) topics in your preparation.

Ask yourself: What content is relevant for the exam? Which topics are particularly important? Which topics decide whether you pass or not? What material can you neglect? Were some of your fellow students harder working than you? Ask them what they think and ask for help. Are there any old exam questions or tips that could be useful for the exam? Is it possible to obtain documents from older students who have already taken the exam? Try to narrow down the exam material and concentrate on this essential content.

Reading tip: Narrow down the material: This is how you find out which content is relevant for the exam


3. Set up a learning plan!

Many students feel that they do not have time to plan their approach while studying and therefore start their exam preparation without a written plan. It is precisely these students who fail disproportionately often and complete all exams with significantly worse grades than their fellow students who think about it for 20 minutes and record their learning activities in a plan.

It doesn't matter how little time you have before the exam: plan this time! If you throw yourself aimlessly and haphazardly at your study materials, you will get bogged down and waste your valuable time. You will lose track of things, forget important preparation steps or scramble to small things. In the following reading tip I will show you how you can set up a simple learning plan.

Reading tip: How to create a learning plan for your next exam - step-by-step instructions for a relaxed exam phase


4. Adjust your daily rhythm!

When people are pressed for time, the most common reaction is to work faster and longer. But it is precisely this approach that is harmful to learning and can destroy your concentration. You don't have to learn faster - you have to learn better. And for this it is often enough if you adapt your daily rhythm to your new needs. To do this, block fixed learning times in your calendar and try to postpone other obligations during this time.

Put learning at the center of your life for a brief moment (until the exam), but don't worry about it all the time. Learn concentrated and focused at the times of the day when you are most productive, take regular breaks and learn in stages. Three or four short 30-minute learning units separated by short breaks are more than a five-hour learning marathon.

Reading tip: How to use the Pomodoro technique to do more in a single day than in a whole week


5. Learn in a focused way!

If you want to screw up your upcoming exam, there is one thing you should definitely do: try to take care of everything at once. Lack of focus is the biggest mistake you can make in exam preparation. If you try to work on several topics at the same time and keep jumping from one chapter to the next or if you half-solve an exercise in between, you will destroy your entire learning structure.

This has two major disadvantages: firstly, the content you have learned does not stick in your memory (you learn for free) and secondly, you do not move and lose your motivation. Therefore, avoid multitasking when learning - especially if you are running late. Shift down a gear and study the exam material one by one. Chapter by chapter. Bit by bit.

Reading tip: The amazingly simple secret of highly productive students


6. Stay healthy and productive!

During exam preparation, most students focus solely on learning and the upcoming exam. But unfortunately they forget their biggest chapter: themselves. They sleep too little, do not eat and drink properly or do without compensating for study work at their desk. The tragic thing is that while these students are trying to save time, by doing this they end up hurting themselves.

Why? Because they trade a little more time for their health and productivity. Then there is the question of the price: What are the decisive elements for a successful examination? Right, a healthy and productive state of the test object. Therefore, make sure that you stay physically fit even during stressful exam phases. Take a rest in between. Eat well. Drink well. Get enough sleep. This is the only way to make the most of the little time you have left to study and to cope with your exam in the best possible way.

Reading tip: 10 scientific methods with which you can sleep better despite exam stress


7. Keep a positive attitude!

In addition to your physical condition, you must not neglect your mental health during the exam phase. I don't mean that you shouldn't let your stress show and run around grinning all the time. It's about something else: your attitude. Try to develop a positive attitude towards your studies despite exam stress. Continue to perceive your challenges and the demanding exams - but do not mistake the situation for yourself.

Stay positive and focus on the good parts of your student life. Ask yourself: why is it worth holding out now? What are the reasons that I can do it? What other difficult situations have I already dealt with? What can I expect when I have passed my exams? Even in stressful phases, keep a positive attitude and stay motivated. You can do anything on this basis.

Reading tip: 7 ways in which overwhelmed students can motivate themselves


Read the DOEDL method for free!



Exam preparation that is too short is stressful and anything but optimal. Nevertheless, you have every chance of a good exam result - if you use your time wisely and stick to a suitable strategy.

To do this, first analyze your situation and concentrate on the essentials while learning. Create a learning plan and adjust your daily rhythm. Learn in a focused way, take care of your health and keep a positive mindset.

If you take these tips to heart, you can still save your exam - even though you started studying too late this time.

You don't have to study harder for exceptional performance. Just wiser. If you want to know how to do it and so that you don't fall behind again next time, I recommend this book:

Reading tip: Bachelor of Time - time management during studies

Good luck with your exams!


Picture: © Kimberly Farmer /