Cramming: Beneficial or destructive? Professors, students and research reveals truth

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Raven Leverett

Features Editor

Everyone has had to cram for a test before, but is cramming the best way to study?

According to the American Psychological Association, 70 percent of students procrastinate, which can lead to cramming.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Deah Quinlivan says that the best way to study depends on the student. However, she says that research states it is best to spread out studying prior to an exam, rather than cramming.

“The mass testers dropped off relatively quickly for the knowledge they remembered. And those who spaced it out kept more,” Quinlivan said.

Basically, cramming is efficient for memorizing for a test the next day, but studying over a longer period of time is the best way to actually learn and retain information.

“I don’t study anything more than an hour or two in a day. At max I give myself two to three weeks in advance,” said communication and interpersonal major Otman Belkouteb.

Sometimes anxiety is the reason students cram. Stress helps the student to focus better in order to study.

According to Oxford Learning, cramming is a way for students to maximize the small amount of time they have to study.

“I’m leery to tell anyone that they should always space out their studying because a teacher told me that in college and I made my first B on the test,” Quinlivan said.

In a lot of ways cramming is memorization and that can be the best way to study for some students. Quinlivan believes students should use the elaborative type of rehearsal.

Elaborative rehearsal is a memory technique that involves thinking about the meaning of the term to be remembered, as opposed to simply repeating the word to yourself over and over.

However, the National Science Foundation suggests that retrieval practice is far more beneficial than elaborative rehearsal.

Quinlivan also advises making self-references within your notes to help you recall better later. The method of self-referencing can be used whether you are studying over a period of time or cramming a few nights before a test.

According to a study in Psychology and Aging, self-referencing enhances memory especially for specific memory.

Although many students study on their own, some students seek assistance at tutor tables.

Tutor tables are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Student Solutions Center.

There are tutors for biology, chemistry, math, statistics and calculus.

“Generally what we do is help them with homework and go over concepts again,” math tutor Carolyn Mays said.