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Why cramming for a test is bad

By Edited Mar 7, 2016 1 2

Don't cram for a test, you won't remember much test cramming!

We have probably all done it at one time or another, I know I have. The first time was probably during my Secondary education exams, I would rather be out with my friends, so here the teacher would be telling us that we had a month to study for a certain exam or test, that we should really concentrate and that this exam was important. What us 15 year olds were hearing was, " you have 30 days before this exam, so you have 27 days before you have to even pay the exam subject any attention!". What made me even more arrogant was that up until the big gun exams I was the kind of kid lucky enough to take an exam and pass it with out ever having done any real revision, I had a very clever brain back in those days that once it absorbed information it stayed there with out having to study or cram for a test. That was UP UNTIL the big exams hit, known in the UK as G.C.S.Es. I went out and stayed out until midnight, did lots of things that parents would be mortified about a teenager doing and merely glanced at my exam schedule that had a rota for 12 different subject exams on there. Then I would suddenly get up around 3 days before a certain set of exams and read the schedule, panic and stay in all night just reading and answering my own questions. The problem was also that, whilst teachers in the 90s told us to revise, they did not exactly tell us how to revise for an exam. The most they did was give us past papers to do, but nothing on how to screen your material and course work to reduce the information and absorb quick facts that would be the most important.

The bad way to revise for an exam

So there I was sat on my bed in my room, ( I also happened to have a 6 and 4 year old sister and brother interrupting me at the time), all of my course work and exercise books out for the subjects my exam was about, I tried to speed read every single page I could, I drank way more than the weekly allowance for caffeine in one night, for a few nights and tried to answer questions in my own head that I thought may be asked regarding that subject. Well, I did do better than some of my peers, but I was a couple of grade passes lower than I was predicted, infact in one exam I blitzed through the exam and fell asleep for the remaining 20 minutes, thankfully that was only Religious education. 

What happened with my exams?

Well what happened was that I didn't get the results I wanted and would have probably done better if I had not bothered opening any text books, laid off the caffeine and had a good 10 - 12 hours sleep every night for a few weeks before my exams instead of cramming for my tests.

So why is cramming for a test bad?

Cramming for a test is bad because there have been studies to show what happens because of sleep deprivation and information overload. The result is usually malfunction and overload burn out.

[3109]"Study shows that test cramming has  negative effect on grades" is what one study has found.

The study at Harvard proved that when testing two separate groups of individuals and making one group sleep deprived whilst the other was aloud to sleep properly, the group that were sleep deprived had slowed and stammered thought process due to lack of sleep. Whilst there is an obviousness that lack of knowledge on the subject matter being tested on, sleep deprivation will hinder any knowledge you do have from being made sense of in your brain. There for cramming for a test can cause a kind of mental block.

What you should do instead of cramming for a test

You must make revision your mantra!

When you get a time table for your exams, make  a study time table so that you get 1 hour on each subject you have an exam on the day before the exam. Do not place anything on that time table for after 10 pm, as every hour in bed asleep before midnight is worth two post midnight. Before you even get to the time of your exam, make yourself a revision time table for the months before your big chunk of exams. STICK TO IT TOO!! Your friends and social life will not pay your wages when you get past your exams.  Whilst socializing is important to keep those pre stress nerves down, do not do so at the cost of your revision time table, plan for that whilst working out your exam revision time table.



Mar 27, 2012 9:13pm
This is a very helpful article especially for students, thanks for sharing these tips.
Mar 28, 2012 3:48am
Thank you for your compliment. Studying for exams has always been a beggar of time but cramming for tests in the dead of night is not the way to do it.
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  1. Jeremy Duda "Study shows test cramming has negative effect on grades." The Arizona Daily, Wildcat online. 2/02/2001. 27/03/2012 <Web >

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