Who hasn’t crammed before a test? It can be all too easy to put off studying until the last minute, and then decide that procrastination has given you no other option but to cram all of those facts and formulas in the night before. And maybe cramming has helped you in the past – it very well may have gotten you passably decent scores on other quizzes or exams. But why doesn’t it work as a real solution for your studies?
There’s a difference between short-term and long-term memory
Cramming helps you remember formulas and vocabulary words in the short term, but what about the long term? Just because you can pass a quiz the next day or the same morning by studying at the last minute doesn’t mean you truly understand or grasp the concepts you’re being tested on. In order to fully understand those concepts, you need to commit them to your long-term memory. And that means committing to studying and reviewing that material over a sustained period of time.
Cramming gives a false sense of security
Studying at the last minute gives you the false belief that you actually know the material – after all, didn’t you ace the last test you took after cramming? In reality, if retested on that same content, chances are you won’t be able to perform as well the second time around as someone who took the time to truly study. Cramming gives you the illusion of preparedness when that’s not the case. Don’t fall into this trap!
Last-minute studying is unhealthy
Pulling an all-nighter to finish studying for an exam you didn’t properly prepare for takes a toll on your body – and a particularly bad toll if you do it often. You can cut back on a lot of the fatigue, tiredness, and irritability that cramming often produces by pacing out your studies instead of packing it all in the night before.
Cramming can backfire
With all the stress that comes with cramming, it’s inevitable that you may question your ability to perform on test day. This kind of stress and anxiety may lead to forgetfulness or recall problems when you actually sit for your test. You (and your brain) will be much more collected on the day of the exam if you’ve adequately prepared for it.
About the Author:
Catherine supports Magoosh’s future grad school students by unlocking tricks of the test prep and application trade. Catherine spends her free time checking out local farmer’s markets, reading food and lifestyle blogs, and watching Bravo. She is forever in search of the best Mexican and Italian food in any given city.
Photo attribition: photo at top courtesy of Flickr user anna gutermuth under the Creative Commons 2.0 license.