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Mary Dishigrikyan is a fourth-year Psychology and English student at UCLA. She is a logophile with a passion for puns and Disneyland.  

There’s a hugely important exam looming ahead…or so you thought, until you double-checked your calendar and realized that the hugely important exam is TOMORROW. Don’t freak out! All-nighters, although not the most physically or mentally healthy for us, are sometimes a necessary step to surmount in our college careers. So without further ado, here are some essentials for getting through your very first all-nighter (relatively) scot-free:

Determine what your surroundings will be

For starters, if your roommate’s too loud, or is super nice but unfortunately has no idea when to end a conversation, avoid getting stuck in the vortex of discussions with him/her and run. Run far, far away – or maybe even try convincing your roommate to step out for some time.

Leave me Alone

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Running to an on-campus lounge or library would probably be ideal, but if that’s not your scene, check out a quiet and quaint coffee shop that’s open late. Sometimes the best study companion is a scarily enormous cup of java, and staying caffeinated will doubtlessly give you the energy to continue. Start chugging!

Chugging Coffee

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Pick the right music

If you’re the type of student who likes to study in the presence of music, for the love of Straight A’s do not choose anything you can sing (or dance!) along to. Otherwise, you’re just begging for distractions. This means no One Direction, no old Backstreet Boys songs that you still know all the lyrics to for some reason, and nothing that can be found on the game Just Dance. Try some slow, instrumental tunes instead, or create a classical music playlist. And remember: silence can be music, too! Some people just study better with no background noise whatsoever. If this describes you perfectly, then go ahead and quit iTunes…Spotify…Pandora…and any other program that can potentially distract you with tunes. You’ve gotta say goodbye, cause once you start subconsciously head-banging, pretty soon you’ll have a full-blown concert taking place in your room.

Head Banging

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Gather provisions

One word: FOOD. Staying awake and focused on one task for hours will require an abundance of energy, which will only come with an abundance of provisions. Line up some dark chocolate, fruit (particularly anything citrusy), and nuts for snacking on. Keep water by your side as well, and if you feel yourself slipping, take a breather and have something to munch on. Try to avoid sugary foods and junk foods – while they may taste spectacular, the aftereffects (including the crash) leave much to be desired.


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Actually study

Once you have your music, setting, food, and the correct textbook or notebook in front of you, get started and stay focused. Keep in mind your goal: to take the bull that is your exam by the horns and conquer it. I know you can do it. You know you can do it. You’ve just gotta be able to pull it off. Good results come from hard work, so at least try to convince yourself you’re enjoying whatever subject you’re studying and have at it. Put your phone, laptop, and TV remote away, out of arm’s reach, and as long as your textbook remains open, so too should your eyes.  Don’t pry them away!


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If you don’t get something, set it aside and re-read it later in the morning or wait until you think you have a clear enough head to understand it. Most importantly, don’t quit your entire all-nighter over one frustrating aspect of it.

What the Hell

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Master your test

Oh, no! Before you know it, the sun’s rising and you have to get to class to take your exam. Try to quickly refresh your mind by scanning over your notes one last time before you leave. If you’re running late, sidestep all the slow walkers texting or hugging their friends in the middle of the walkway – you’ve got a test to take, and you’ll be damned if you miss something you stayed up all night for.

Luke pushes Jess

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Once you get to your classroom, try not to pore over your notes, as tempting as it may be with everyone around you going on about how scared they are. Take some deep breaths and remember that you studied for your test for hours. You learned what needed to be learned. There’s no reason for you to fail now.

I am the Master Commander

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So take your test and breathe a sigh of relief when you’re done. And from that day forward, if someone ever calls you crazy for wanting to partake in an all-nighter, just tell them: “Been there, done that. Don’t stop me now!” (In the words of Freddie Mercury).

What Gets You Through Your All-Nighters?

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