It can be tempting to put off studying for a test until later, especially if you’re receiving invitations for parties, your clubs keep holding events, or you just want to relax after a long day of classes. As the date of your test nears, you may realize that you’ve done no studying at all and now need to cram to make sure you can remember as much of the material as possible. Although cramming is a common practice, it’s definitely one to avoid, as it can often backfire. Here are some downsides of waiting until the last minute to study.
1. You Won’t Remember the Information
Classes that form part of your major often build upon one another — you’ll need to remember the material from a current class to do well in a future one. However, if you cram, you won’t retain the information in the long term; rather, you’ll forget everything soon after the test.
2. It’s Exhausting
Spending several hours trying to absorb all the information you’ve covered in class so far is exhausting, especially if it’s a large amount of material. When you break studying into small chunks, it’s much less effort. For instance, you could create a deck of digital flashcards to keep on your phone and test yourself whenever you have a short break between classes or other activities.
3. It’s Ineffective for Some Kinds of Tests
Cramming is particularly ineffective when you’re preparing for a test that checks your understanding of concepts rather than your knowledge of facts. For these kinds of tests, the best way to prepare is to think about how you would explain the ideas to someone who is unfamiliar with the topic — you could even actually explain to someone. This is less feasible when you’re cramming, as you have limited time and are unlikely to feel creative after hours of reading.
4. You Won’t Have Time to Clarify Any Doubts
If you encounter something you don’t understand when cramming, there’s no opportunity to ask your professor for clarification. In contrast, if you start studying in advance, you can make a note of your questions and pay your professor a visit during office hours.
5. You May Not Know What You Don’t Understand
It’s also possible you think you understand something when you’ve in fact misunderstood. The only ways to discover this is by doing homework or discussing the material in a study group.
6. It’s Not Strategic
Cramming typically means reading as much as possible before a test to ensure you’ve covered all your bases. However, this is an inefficient use of your time, since there are likely parts of the material you know well and other areas where your understanding is weaker. By studying strategically in advance, you can focus just on your weakest areas.
7. You’ll Lack Sleep
Sleep helps turn information into long-term memories. It also ensures you feel rested and alert for your test. If you stay up all night cramming, it will be more difficult to focus.
Instead of cramming, get into the habit of studying on a regular basis over the weeks leading up to a test. This is much easier to do when you have a quiet place at home where you can focus. Since it’s rare to find peace when you’re living on campus, the best option is to find a room for rent — Ottawa, Ontario, students can choose from a variety of accommodation options at THEO. We have one-bedroom apartments, private rooms, and shared rooms, all of which are fully-furnished. Contact us now to secure your spot.