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Your Teen's Essential Guide to Cramming for Finals

By: jessyc Tuesday May 9, 2023 comments

If your teen or college student is going to cram for finals, he needs to make the most out of his limited study time. Cramming is nothing like spending days or weeks preparing for a cumulative test. 

Before your teen actually starts cramming, he needs to set his expectations. Cramming isn’t the best way to get A’s. Instead, cramming is a way to eke out a passing grade in as limited an amount of time as possible. The sad truth is your teen won’t remember much past the test date. Cramming doesn’t give your teen a chance to really learn or understand the material, and it definitely doesn’t allow your teen to store much knowledge in long-term memory.

Another thing to remember is cramming = HIGH stress. It’s one thing to be stressed about upcoming finals when you’re caught up and doing well and another thing when your teen knows he doesn’t understand the material, is way behind, and is planning to learn it all at the last possible second.

When your teen knows how to study and has time management skills, cram sessions don’t happen. More importantly: your teen gets to choose his own goals and expectations. They don’t have to involve hoping for the best!

But, if your teen didn’t have a goal or time management strategies in place at the start of the semester, all hope is not lost! Your college student can still do some preparation for finals that will make a huge difference. 

First, your teen needs to question the teacher. What content is being covered? ie Does your teen need to know specific facts or are general, big ideas good enough? What is the format of the test, including timing? And a really important one: is there a study guide? These are all questions your teen needs to ask before beginning to cram. 

Lastly, your college student needs to decide where he’s studying for finals and who he’s studying with. Your teen might want to study in a quiet, private study room, or he might want to study in a group with a bunch of friends from class. These decisions must be made before the cram session. Keep in mind: your teen has a learning style and personal preferences. Even in a cram session, your teen needs to use the right strategies that match your teen’s learning style. Not sure what those are? I can help! Schedule a free Talk with Jessy (consultation) at so we can identify the study strategies and tools that are going to help your teen in all study sessions (even cram sessions)!

Now, it’s time for the actual cram session to start. The goal of the cram session is to focus on what’s going to be asked on the final. If the teacher said 80% of the final is from chapters five and six, that’s where your teen needs to spend most of his time. If a friend told your child the teacher asked a lot of vocabulary questions, that’s the focus. Your teen is studying for points.

Studying during a cram session can feel very frantic – remember the HIGH stress level? – which makes it especially important for your teen to be careful to get sleep, eat, and not study for hours on end. It’s important to take short breaks. Your child will likely be tempted to pull all nighters to cram, but getting a full eight hours of sleep will probably help him more on test day.

After all of that, it's time for the actual final. Be sure to remind your teen to eat something before his final, something that is more than sugar and actually involves protein : ) It’s also essential your teen gets to his final on time, in the right location, with all necessary materials. There’s a good chance the final will not be happening at the normal class time or class location. If notes are allowed, make sure he takes them to the test. 

When your teen sits down to start the test, he needs to note the time. Most finals are timed, so your child needs to pace himself. 

Because your child has crammed, it’s essential for your student to do a brain dump before reading the first question. This means your teen needs to take the first five minutes of the final to write down EVERYTHING he remembers on a blank piece of paper, if allowed, or even on the back of the last page of the final. The dump includes vocabulary words, formulas, key pieces of information, etc. – anything your teen studied and remembers. This brain dump becomes your teen’s notes and point of reference throughout the final. 

After the brain dump, your student needs to read through the questions on the final quickly. If he doesn’t recognize anything about a question, it’s essential your teen puts an answer down and moves on. But, if a question resembles something your teen wrote down on the brain dump or seems vaguely familiar to something your teen studied, it’s worth it for your teen to spend an extra minute or two answering that question. There are MANY test taking strategies your teen can use, but that’s a post for another day! 

No matter if your child is in high school, college, or beyond, finals are a reality. But, cramming isn’t the right study strategy. If you want to know what better ones are, let’s chat so we can prevent your teen from ever needing another cram session. Choose a day and time for you, your teen, and me to meet for a free Talk with Jessy at 


About the Author: jessyc

Jessyka Coulter is CEO & Founder of Ace Cookie Tutoring & Study with Jessy. Learn more about her services at Home - Ace Cookie Tutoring