We’ve all done it. Left our study until the last minute, and the end-result has been to head into a chaotic cram session to prepare for our exam. For some of us, it’s even our preferred study method. If that’s you, we’ve got some disappointing news. Because research shows that cramming for your exams isn’t the best way to prepare.
Why cramming doesn't work
- You don't get the best results. Spreading out your study time, rather than doing it all in one go, has been proven to be more effective. Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to spend more time studying. Phew! You just need re-order your study time across a number of days or weeks.
- It's overwhelming. Putting off studying until the last minute can stress you out. Knowing you need to learn a lot of information in order to perform on your test can be overwhelming. And when you’re overwhelmed, you tend to feel stressed and anxious.
- You'll have trouble remembering stuff. Exams can freak you out. When you’re stressed it’s harder to remember things. But research has shown that learning by taking practice tests (instead of cramming) helps protect your memory from the negative effects of stress. This means you’re more likely to remember what you’ve learned, and get a better mark on that exam. Winning!
- You'll lose sleep. We call them all-nighters for a reason, and that’s because you’ll end up staying awake from dusk ‘till dawn. While it may seem like a good idea to skimp out on sleep for a few extra hours of study, research shows this won’t do you any favours. Your concentration in the exam room will be patchy, meaning you’re less likely to ace that test.
- Skip the junk food. Seriously, who eats fresh fruit and veggies while they study? A diet of pizza, caffeine, and snack foods is usually what you look for when cramming. While they’re yummy, easy to grab, and give you a quick burst of energy, they won’t help your brain work. Your brain works better when it’s fed the right stuff, so stick to a mix of healthy snacks (including fruit, nuts, veg and protein)and lay off the Snickers, RedBull and Maccas.
For better results...
The best way to study is to develop a regular study schedule and stick to it. If you’re going to hit the books the night before an exam, aim to revise, rather than cram.