Cramming for Exams – A Bad Idea
By Shelly Koren
Everyone has been confronted during their schooling with a difficult decision to make: To study early for exams, or to watch another episode of their favourite Tv show. It is definitely a hard decision to make, especially when exams seem so far away that you have enough time to watch your favourite show, go out for dinner, go to the mall, and still make time for a hot chocolate with friends. Unfortunately, time management is a skill that is forced upon every student, especially in high school going on to university.
Although cramming may seem like the most effective way to get all the information in at the same time, researchers such as UCLA professor of psychiatry Andrew J. Fuligni, and UCLA graduate student Cari Gillen-O’neel have studied the topic extensively, maintaining that no matter the context cramming is counterproductive. They further claim that despite a students’ effort to create a consistent study plan, if they sacrifice sleep to create more time to study they will likely have difficulties with their academics the following day.
Fuligni states that when students first start high school they usually sleep about 7.6 hours per night. This declines to 7.3 hours in tenth grade, 7.0 hours in their eleventh grade, and at their last grade of high school it is at about 6.9 hours.Fuligni suggests that this could be because the students don’t create a schedule to organize their time, and they fall behind in their studies leading them to shorten the amount of time they sleep.
Student such as Marianne Lerndin, a fourth year university student describes her first years at university to be incredibly difficult because of her inability to create a healthy consistent schedule to balance school work and a social life.
“When I first started university I was expecting a similar amount of assigned work like in high school, so I wouldn’t do all of my readings and I would fall behind. Because of that during exams I would have to read chapters upon chapters and then also find time to write my essays. When I studied throughout the night I thought I was grasping the information, but two minutes later I would go over the work again and I wouldn’t remember it at all! My marks really took a hit from my poor sleep schedule. I always make sure I have about eight hours of sleep before an exam now, and I do all of my studying and essay work during the day in order to achieve that”
Fuligni suggests that Marianne’s method of studying is the most effective, as it tends to lead to higher grades. Academic success depends on eliminating distractions, as it is important to maintain a proper sleep schedule. It is important to use school time as effectively and efficiently as possible and scheduling in break time during the day so there is an equal balance of work and relaxation.