This was a terrible idea. Never do it again. Assuming you still have a couple weeks left before the final, here is how you can try to salvage a passing grade or possibly something a little better.
1. Print out the lecture slides.
Courtesy of Dr. Lawrence Drew & the Conant Foundation
Most likely, your professor posted the PowerPoint slides or a lecture outline for you to print out before coming to lecture. Go online and print them out for every lecture you did not attend. Read through each lecture with a highlighter in hand, and highlight any key facts or details likely to be turned into exam questions. You’ll get a good overview of the course material after your first read, but you’ll need to read them over a couple more times for the details to sink in. Take notes on anything you think you may need to memorize verbatim. Pay close attention to lists, as they make for easy exam questions.
2. Copy a friend’s notes.
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Professors intentionally leave details out of the lecture slides; this is intended to entice students to go to class and get exposure to all of the course material. Since you haven’t gone to class, find a friend who has, and ask to copy his or her notes. Find a good friend, or someone who owes you a favor, because they’ve just done an entire semester’s worth of work for you. While you’re copying the notes, try to organize them along with the professor’s slides. You can also transcribe the notes alongside the professor’s slides. This will help with organization, as it will keep the main points from lecture outline and the details from your friend’s notes in the same place.
3. Read the textbook and other course materials.
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Ideally, you’ve done some of the reading. Depending on how much you have to catch up on, you may not have time to read everything word for word. You can utilize a couple of different strategies to get the most out of the material with the limited time remaining. If you have time to read the material closely, do so and take notes. If you’re running out of time, try reading the headlines and bold section descriptions, and then skim the material in between. Another good strategy is to read one out of every five or ten pages. You’ll end up with a disconnected understanding of the material, but at least you’ll have a ten to twenty percent chance of catching details that could be on the exam. Yet another option is to focus on a portion of the readings; read these closely and take notes. You’ll miss some material this way, but a thorough understanding of a portion of it should get you some guaranteed points on the exam. The professor’s lecture slides and your friend’s notes will supplement the material you did not read.
4. Commit yourself to your ideal study environment.
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By now, you should’ve already spent a significant amount of time studying and compiling information. Now that you have all the pieces required to try to salvage a decent grade, it is time to do your best to ingrain all the information into your head. In order to do so, you are going to need to spend countless hours reading and re-reading the lecture slides, your friend’s notes, and the course readings. Utilize your preferred study techniques, and create your ideal study environment. (See more information from the previous post: Making the Most of How You Learn.) Force yourself to study longer and harder than you typically would, and remind yourself of all the hours you should’ve spent studying throughout the semester.
Utilizing the strategies above should enable you to at least pass the class. If you’re lucky, you could even end up with a decent grade. Hopefully, the experience of cramming a semester’s worth of work into a few weeks has taught you to go to class and learn the information at the pace it is presented.