Exams. They are not a fun thing to lo0k forward to and I have one coming up next week for my Lifespan Development class. As I write this, my stomach is knotting up and I feel the extreme pre-test jitters I always do before every exam. However, as I sift through chapter after chapter, my confidence slowly builds up to the final moment when I have to sit through the drudgery of an exam.
A lot of people think that cram studying or better yet known as burning the midnight oil, is an effective method to doing well in an exam. In my humble opinion, I believe the opposite to be true and I have the scientific research to back that claim up. BUT…as always, feel free to disagree with me!
As a Psychology student, I know that cram studying is an ineffective way to prepare for a test because when students attempt to cram massive amounts of information at one go, they are likely to forget that information during the test itself.
Dr. Roberto Antonio Giaccone, a specialist in neurology, sums it up nicely, “Students might struggle with a test, even if they studied for hours, as they will have so much information stored they will have trouble recalling information properly.”
Instead, it is much better to space out your study sessions well in advance of the exam as doing so would mean using your long-term memory and thus, better recall of the information learned.
Here are some of the things I do before every exam:
- Get a good night of sleep. Do away with caffeine and other drugs, it’s useless if you ask me. Sure, you consume huge amounts of caffeine, you’re bound to get a buzz. But with every buzz comes a crash and a BIG one at that. Also, there is no point studying when you are tired because it would be like reading a book like a zombie and not absorbing precious material.
- Break it down. As I said earlier, it is much better to space out your study sessions as opposed to cramming in all that information at the last minute. When you are cramming lots of information, you are bound to lose concentration and there is no point reading just to read and not to absorb, especially with all that boring theoretical stuff. Give yourself at least a week in advance.
- Take Breaks. As I said earlier, it is very easy to lose concentration when faced with all that boring theoretical stuff and when you fall prey to losing your concentration, what’s the point of pressing on?
- Study smart, not hard. This is especially true when it comes to exams. You have to know what to anticipate and know how to strategize as exams are all about strategy and not how much you know. Be privy to your lecture notes, ask your lecturer what topics are coming out and note the sections that your professors are focusing on. If you can anticipate the questions coming out, you have no reason to fear it.
- Repeat. Go over your assignments, focusing on the questions and essays in the assignments. From my experience, it is very likely that these questions will be repeated in the exam. Going over your answers and focusing on the critiques by your professors will allow you to learn from your mistakes.
A good account of the pitfalls of cramming for an exam were illustrated by 23-year old civil engineering technology student Rhaendra Jadduroy, who said that he thought the method was not a safe one to use and I especially loved what he said at the end.
“[Cramming] may help you on a test, but it’s useless. If you’re going to pay for an education, you want to make it worth something,”
Well, that’s it Peacocks, wish me luck next week!