Jan 14, 2015 09:20pm
Cramming vs. Studying: What Works?
Date: 
June 9, 2013 - 6:05pm

When it comes to studying, there are two different categories of students: those who study faithfully for every exam, and then those who cram. If you pull all-nighters during finals week and frantically study before every exam, chances are you are a crammer.

But cramming isn’t just a study habit; sometimes, it’s the only choice. Whether a student is a good studier or not, chances are that they will end up cramming at least once during their academic life.

There are many different ideas about how cramming affects students. Some believe it hinders students academically, some believe it helps, and others believe that whether it helps or not depends on the student.

Running Start student Cassie Hart, a regular studier, is of the opinion that studiers do better because the information is more processed and understood.

EvCC student Naomi Duffy says that she doesn’t really study well, but as a college student, she is well-aware of how it affects her. “I either know the material or I don’t,” she said. “And it shows on the test.”

Robyn Woodbury, another EvCC student, believes that it really depends on the person. “Some people can look at a page and they know it,” said Woodbury. “If I look at it a couple of times I’m good.”

Research suggests that for most students, cramming is a bad idea. According to the UCLA Newsroom, cramming has negative effects on students because of the trade-off between study and sleep.

Because students who cram often don’t get enough sleep, the study determines that these students will actually be worse for the wear when it comes to their exam. Researchers say that having a more consistent study schedule will benefit students academically.         

Another reason that cramming does not work for most students is because the information is stored in the short-term memory rather than the long-term memory. What has been stored in short-term memory may or may not be enough to get the student through their test, but the bottom line is that the information often isn’t converted to long-term memory.

According to the School Tutoring Academy, “The most important key to [remembering] … is through understanding the material”. One of the problems with cramming for tests or quizzes is that the student may have the material memorized, but still not really know what it means.

Understanding material helps to convert it from short-term to long-term memory so the student will still be able to remember it in the future. Memorizing definitions will help on tests, but comprehension is also something instructors look for.

So whether you’re a habitual crammer or you only do it once in a while, keep in mind that most students do not get any long-term benefit from cramming. While some students are exceptions to the rule, the best choice for most students is to develop regular study habits.

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