Cramming for tests doesn't help. Say What?

With all due respect. This study is full of crap.

I’m not proud to admit this. There were several times in college that I choose having fun with a new gf over studying. I’ve had 36 hour study sessions where I hadn’t read the textbook yet. I would have made a big goose egg without those study sessions. Instead I usually pulled off a B or C on those tests. There’s nothing like desperation to get me focused. I’d read that chapter, outline it, memorize the main concepts and drink three or four pots of coffee. Take a 30 min nap just before class and then take the test.

I’m not alone. Most of my friends did the same. Having fun and getting laid is more important than a psych or history test any day. At least it is when you’re 19. :smiley: I lived on 4 hours sleep a night throughout college. At that age sleep wasn’t a priority unless I was spooning with my lady.

Depends really. If you knew the major material (aka concepts) like the back of your hand and crammed beforehand to learn the silly things like formulae, jargon and so on then cramming is sensible. On t’other hand, trying to learn the concepts and so on won’t work if you don’t have time to apply them, and there will be the inevitable sleep decrease in performance to contend with.

I see that probably consistent with this survey, and agree it’s badly designed.

You’re saying that when you didn’t sleep and didn’t study, you did worse then when you didn’t sleep and did study. That’s hardly surprising. What you quoted, at least, seems to be saying that people who did sleep and did study did better than people who didn’t sleep and did study. Apples and oranges. Had you slept and studied, you might have done better.

I’m glad now that I only relied on coffee. A lot of students in the dorm were popping dexies to get through their college workloads. I didn’t want an A that bad.

What the study indicates is that had you kept regular hours and regular study habits on an onging basis, it is likely that you would have done better than that.

I tried that for my first set of terms papers. One English lit paper a day, for five days. I stayed awake as much as possible by using thick slurries of coffee and tee. By the timeI was halfway through, I was halucinating a fair bit when I wasn’t passed out. I have no recollection at all of the last couple of days.

Oddly enough, each subsequent paper received a higher score than the preceeding paper, which led me to the conclusion that either I think better when I am incapable of thinking, or lit profs must get really bored, such that when a paper starts spousing nonsense like “exegesis of the word”, they bump it up a grade. Eventually I ended up a lit prof myself, and came to the conclusion that for frosh papers, anything that is coherent gets a good grade, and anything that is even slightly interesting gets an even better grade.

And needless to say, I have not consumed coffee or tea in all the decades since then.

I think it depends on how long you plan to retain the info.
I’ve “learned” entire semesters of Psych and Soc in 90 minutes before the final by quickly skimming the entire textbook - got A’s in all those classes. I admit however that I would not remember a damn thing a week later.

I always thought there should be a law (like murphy’s law) that predicts you’ll have tests or papers due for all your classes in the same week. Mid terms were killer because all the professors gave tests that same week. Plus at least a couple papers.

I don’t miss college at all. It was tough.

Well, the material is centuries old, and has been studied (with varying intensities) by millions of people. What are the odds a student is going to come up with some new insight? I just aimed to make my papers as entertaining as possible; my usual schtick was to take a bizarre thesis and see how much carefully out-of-context supporting material I could dig up. Also, alcohol was my paper-writing drug, not caffeine; I consistently did better when I’d had a couple of drinks before I started writing.

As to the actual topic at hand: cramming can be useful in passing a test. Cramming and sleeping is more effective. Without the sleep part, you just have to trust the Incan monkey god who is sitting on the professor’s head, dictating the answers–and sometimes he didn’t study, either.

Not a bit true for me, an honors student from Kindergarten through college, with terrible study habits. So many times I’ve had teachers insist that if you try to study for this test/do this project/write this paper at the last minute, it will not work, and I (stupidly, because it’s still a bad idea) did it that way anyway and got a very good grade.

Not that I’m recommending that method, as it’s very stressful, a bad habit that doesn’t *always *work, and not everyone can pull it off…but it has certainly worked a bunch of times for me. I have correctly answered MANY questions on tests with information that I definitely did not know a few hours previously.

It depends on the subject too. Humanities and social sciences subjects (such as those the OP mentions) are more suited to cramming than pure and applied sciences - and some subjects are just un-crammeable; you can’t cram a lab.

This is not new news. People have known this for years. The right way to learn something to retain it is spread over days, with good nights sleep being very important in allowing the material to sink in.

There are a huge number of well researched studies like this on how the brain and memory works. These studies give clear cut ways for people to learn properly. The average college student of course does the exact opposite. Then they do mental gymnastics trying to justify their poor decisions.

(The really great mind twisters are the studies that show note taking in class is bad. A lot of people can’t handle those.)

To the OP: Since learning is fun, then having fun in college is easy. Learn, learn, learn, fun, fun, fun. If learning isn’t fun for you, do something else. Going to college in order to party is waste of everybody’s time and money.

Well, also it indicates that at the moment when a person’s mental agility is assessed for something, lack of sleep can cause more harm than whatever was “gained” by cramming.

That’s all it sounds like to me. I think skipping the kegger on Saturday night, then staying up late Sunday to cram for Monday’s test would work out fine.

Undoubtedly, but why study and do homework every day rather than just on days before tests?

I kept a “C” average while doing no studying or homework and cramming the night or day-before a test. I would do homework if it was a significant part of your grade, if it was only 10 or 20 percent of the total I’d skip it.

I’m not saying that was good, if you wanted honor roll or a impressive GPA it’s obviously not the way to go. I was just trying to graduate.

It depends on what you are trying to do in college. If you want to actually learn, then studying a little all the time is the way to go. If you want to party for 4 years, and get grades good enough to not fail, then maybe you can get away with cramming.