Can I pass an exam with one night’s study?

Read this fast… it’ll be good practice for what you’ll need to do later.

So you’re sitting there worried about tomorrow’s exam thinking you’re definitely gonna fail it as you’ve done nothing. Can you pass it or even get a decent result? If you’ve turned up to class and you’ve paid attention most of the time, you’ll be surprised at how much knowledge you already have stored in there when it comes to the crunch. You can definitely pass! If you’ve done nothing all year then you’re slightly worse off, but it’s still doable. Here’s what you do:

1. Stop panicking

You can do this, we’re ex-students and we’ve done it before you!

2. Organise

photo credit: Bright Meadow

Take 5-10 minutes to pull together all your notes together for the subject. Tidy a clear study space and get down to business.

3. Study smart

The right way
photo credit: Raveesh Vyas

If you’ve got as far as reading this you obviously want to have a stab at passing and I’m sure you didn’t just make this decision today! If you’re even thinking about passing, then you must have been listening to your teacher when they passed out tips on what topics commonly come up in this exam and what they think might come up this year. These are the areas you should be concentrating on tonight. If there’s a chapter in your textbook that a full question comes up on every year, then get stuck into that chapter. Get out the past exam papers and do as many questions as you can as quick as you can. Don’t try to study the entire book in one night. To do this would be bluffing yourself, now’s the time to take educated guesses on what’s coming up in tomorrow’s exam. If you’re not finding these tips useful and don’t know where to start, don’t get yourself into a tizzy. The very least you can do is start off with the exam paper from 2 or 3 years ago and work backwards from this. Skip last year as you’re going to have to risk the fact that the same thing probably isn’t going to come up again.

4. Study fast

photo credit: J.J. Verhoef

Point 3 gives you a few pointers on what you should be studying. You need to decide on this pretty quickly (15-20 minutes max) and get down to it asap. We suggest a strategy as follows. If there’s 5 questions to complete on an exam and you need 2 to pass eg. 40% select 5 topics and go for them. If 2 out of 5 come up you will be able to pick up enough marks to set you well on your way. You’ll find that at least some of the other stuff will overlap and you’ll have enough time to pass. If all 5 come up, you might be able to get a great result (it’s possible). So, you’ve selected what your studying, make a list of this. As soon as the list is made you need to allow a certain amount of time for each topic out of the time you’re prepared to study and when time slot is up for each topic, move on! Maybe allow an hour at the very end to quickly through everything you’ve covered once more.

5. Get help!

photo credit: Gibsonclaire

In addition to studying smart and fast. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help you if you go looking for it. Your parents, brother or sister, aunt, uncle, friend of the family or even a teacher. This is the night before the exam and I know this all sounds like a lot to take on, but if you have someone with knowledge of the subject helping you it can make all the difference. They’ll keep you calm and can help you move through past exam papers much quicker and may even be able to have a go at predicting what might come up when you’re getting stuck in to something else.

If you think you’re screwed, at least try this! Don’t give up without a fight, I didn’t and I passed when I thought I had no chance using the above techniques!

21 thoughts on “Can I pass an exam with one night’s study?”

  1. hughie kilbane

    this is true..iv’e sat business and irish and english without knowing alot at all..i never studied and the night before them i just went over what was predicted and i think iv’e passed dont panic if u try to revise the main topics that are predicted and just run over them before you go in you’ve a good chance

  2. If two of my exams are multiple choice, do you think if I just read over my notes (I have them organized btw) I’ll be ok?

  3. YES , this is true. Actually i didnt studied the whole year and was studing a night before my exam.I was on my study for about 10 hours and it was 5 am in morning and only 2 hours were left for my exam.I decided to study more BUT i was studing history and found it so boring that i felled asleep on my book.When my eyes opened it was 10am in morning and i missed up my exam.


  4. Hi i was wondering if anyone whos just finished the leaving had any notes to give to someone going into 6th year in september. Kinda edgy at de moment cause I havnt done much in 5th year

    Any help would be most appreciated


  5. Hi Ger,
    I’d say the fact that you’re actually thinking about getting your notes together already is a good sign. I suppose if someone passes you on some notes it might help. But it may be better to just concentrate on getting the head down in 6th year and working hard on the notes you get over this year (at a guess you’ll probably find that a lot of the notes you get this year from teachers will be more geared towards the exams than last years notes). I wouldn’t worry too much about not having done much last year. As I said, the fact that your thinking about getting yourself organised this early in the game coupled with a bit of hard work over the year and you’ll be flying by xmas. Hopefully someone might come back to you though as you might get a few pointers from their notes! Bst of luck!

  6. Hi All,
    I am also starting 6th year tomorrow. I was wondering if anybody who did the Leaving Cert last year could spare their notes. I would really appreciate it. I did work in 5th year, but I don’t feel confident starting 6th year. I am going to get the head down and start working straight away. Anyway, thanks for the help!

  7. Nice to see some more student focused tips and not the usual waffle from teachers in school.

    Practical and worthwhile advice…keep it coming.

    P.S – some of the readers may be interested in courses that i run, memory, motivation and planning. check em out at, they may help alot.

    Cormac !

  8. hello again..remember i left a comment aout the exams..well as i thought i passed everything!..the ones i had to study at the last minute were business and economics(i took up economics incase i failed O maths)..i had only 3 nights to study for economics and i got a b2 in it..and i think i got a c3 in business..its all down to trying to predict the main topics..ask the tutor or teacher for them and it will help alot in the days prior to the exam..

  9. I’m halfway through 5th year, but lack any ambition to study. Is there any hope for me..? Does 5th year REALLY matter?

  10. well its always good to be prepared early before the exams,but if u have to prepare just before the day of the exam, it creates a lot of panic and stress.
    I am an engineering student from bangalore and i am soon going to complete my bachelors degree, as of my personal experince,i have given almost every exam studying the night before and i was successful most of the times.i have given almost 50 papers including practicals till date.The most important thing as it was mentioned above is that how u organize the youself and the work aswell and how fast you can study,a better concentration level is always essential while studying,it may be
    anytime you study or it may be the day before the exam.

    1. Hi Miles,
      I’d spend the first 2 or 3 hours scnning your notes and trying to take in as much subject knowledge as possible. I’d then suggest printing out the past exam papers for the subject and using your notes to answer these questions. With enough practice, you’ll see the same type of question popping up again and you should be pretty well prepared. Put the work in and you should have no problems! Best of luck with the 2 exams…

  11. you can study the day before exams like business nd economics where you can bluff. but science subjects nd maths you have to understand fully as theres no bluffing

    1. Thanks for your reply. I’ve spent a few hours going over my notes today, and fortunately I dont think I will need to pull an all-nighter! I got together with a few friends and was able to receive information and even provide information to others. I think my knowledge of the subject has increased significantly and I believe I will manage fine on the exam. I’m going to go over my notes again tonight. Thanks for your advice, I would like to go over some previous exam papers, but unfortunately they’re not available. Thats a good tip though. Thanks again!!


  12. yes this is true,, v can get good score in cat by preparing at one night.. i got good marks without preparing with confident

  13. yes,i agree i am an engineering student from 1st semister exams were completed today.we can prepare the thoery part in a single night.but our subjects are mostly problematic part ,which should be practiced several takes much time to understand and practise .but we need to concentrate more and confidence is important to get better results

  14. Hey, i’m currently in 6th year and doing my leaving. I haven’t done a bit of study so far, and finding it hard to get started, I’m stressing a bit much, I think. Any advice on how to get started?

  15. Really am counting on this craming.

    All I want to do is pass the lc, and I’m only doing higher level const,

  16. Hey my 1st test is on Wednesday next week and I havnt
    opened a book yet and didn really go to school the last 2 years.. I failed all my mocks cept for English and I’m wantn to start studyin but really don’t have a clue where to start! Is there any hope for me? I really don’t think so 😛

  17. All i’m saying is I really hope this works for me!! Can anyone tell me if they got good enough points from doing this? as id love to get my course but haven’t put the work in.

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