Photo by Brenda Lin

It is noon on Sunday. You have just finished a surprisingly decent lunch of leftovers. The sun is shining outside, and you feel like this weekend might end enjoyably. That is when you remember you have two exams tomorrow. Panic slowly clenches its cold, clammy claws around your stomach until you are almost gasping for a breath of fresh, stress-free oxygen.

But wait! Your academic life is not over quite yet. There is one last chance, the fabled all-nighter. A successful attempt would not only guarantee it impossible to sleep through your exams; it would also result in surefire A’s on both tests. The only issue is you’re clueless as to how to proceed. Don’t fret, however; as an expert in the field, I consider myself more than capable of instructing in the proper method. Note that this guide applies primarily to morning exams.

An ideal procedure would involve premeditation starting the day prior. For example, if you planned to prepare for a Monday morning exam, planning would initiate on Saturday night. You should set an alarm for no later than 8 a.m., but earlier is better. Try to get as much work done as possible during the day on Sunday.

Around an hour before you plan to sleep, locate a food source that is transportable to your study spot, which I’ll get into more detail about that later. Recall that the all-nighter is an absolute last resort. So now it’s somewhere around 6 p.m., and it’s time to go back to bed. Set an alarm for midnight, as you want to give yourself time to get to the library or Clough. Don’t wake up too late, or it’s unlikely that other people will be out and about, and you may run a higher risk of becoming a Clery Act. I would not recommend studying in your apartment or dorm; it can be difficult to focus within the close proximity of your bed and other distractions. Worth noting when deciding between the Library and Clough is the fact that Library lights don’t turn off every fifteen minutes or so. Another great option could be department buildings.

So you have woken up and picked a study location. But what should you bring? Key to your endeavour will be snacks and drinks. If you are a coffee person, know that the Clough Starbucks stays open on school nights until 2 a.m. The snacks and other drinks will be able to be covered for the most part through vending machines.

Once everything is organized and you’ve arrived at your target building, pick a spot. Best are those where you know there will not be visible traffic, as people watching can become very distracting. Make sure to take a break every couple hours at least. Walking around the empty building can be surprisingly focus-inducing.

My personal success story using the described strategy involves entering finals week during Fall of my first year with a C in chemistry. A killer all-nighter infused my test-taking with enough power to rocket my grade to an A.