Cramming for tests is, unfortunately, effective

December 12, 2018 — by Oliver Ye and Samantha Yee

Why invest hours of time studying in advance when it’s not needed?

Why spend nine hours over the course of a month poring over the California Drivers Handbook for the drivers education test if you can cram the facts into your brain the night before? For a few hours, the fact that the minimum parking distance from a fire hydrant is 15 feet will reside in your brain.

If students are capable of getting grades they deem adequate by cramming, and manage to save a couple hours for other activities, then the end justifies the means.

Cramming for exams is generally frowned upon, but the success of this method is responsible for the culture of procrastination and nights of intense studying.

If a majority of test material is fact based, it can’t be helped that many students choose to force information into their heads at the closest possible time to the actual exam rather than study earlier and forget the information a couple weeks afterward.

It’s not to say that cramming is a healthy way to study or that it helps with long-term retention; however, the positive quantitative results produced encourage this habit.

Because students may have learned the concepts previously and vaguely remember certains aspects of it, cramming is an effective way to help them refresh their memory of the required material.

Many tests are not cumulative, and merely require memorization of certain facts. For example, if a student needs to know that the Treaty of Tordesillas was ratified in 1494 for a test, and feels that it will not be a useful thing to know in their future, then it would be perfectly acceptable for the student to cram the information into their brain the night before only for the test.

Additionally, if focused cramming produces similar results to studying over a longer period of time, there is little reason to study in advance.

An undesirable side effect of habitual cramming is chronic procrastination, but more often than not, students end up learning how to produce the best results within the shortest amount of preparation time possible. By narrowing down  priorities and adopting skills to work faster, cramming maximizes efficiency.

Contrary to popular belief, the results of cramming aren’t entirely negative. For some, it’s very possible to remain a successful student with a heavy workload, while not having to spend numerous hours a week studying.

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