Cramming For Exams

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Cramming Will Make You Fail

We all know what it’s like in exam period. Wake up, stumble to the shower, eat breakfast and then revise revise revise until we literally can’t keep our eyes open anymore. And then we do it again the next day. Eat. Sleep. Revise. Repeat.

Everyone has different methods of revising, however no matter how successful our technique is it’s almost inevitable we will hit the panicked stage at some point. This is the stage that disrupts our revision schedule; where we realise we know nothing, we can’t answer any of the past (or future) questions and that consequently all we will have gained from university is a comprehensive knowledge of how to reference…which we will never use again.

This is when revision becomes cause and effect because the result of this stress out session is that we suddenly realise learning an entire year’s work in three weeks simply will not happen. So that’s it, the decision is made; the only way to pass our exams is to cram. Cramming day and night with minimal sleep to maximise our information intake becomes the only viable option.

However, studies have shown that this will only hinder your revision further. Don’t bother with the caffeine-fuelled-all-nighter says the University of California as it will do nothing but impact negatively on later work. According to Dr. Fuligni cramming is counterproductive as “an adequate amount of sleep is also critical for academic success” as numerous studies exemplify that sleep deprivation only impedes the learning of the days that follow our intense cramming session.

Dr. Bramford from the University of Arizona assures that, yes, cramming is better than doing no revision, but it’s not much better. He carried out a study in which the control group slept regularly for four days whilst the variable group were deprived of sleep on the first night. An image recognition test was conducted at the end of the four days. The group with less sleep performed much more poorly as sleep deprivation negatively impacts the cortex which is the section of the brain that stores information. Therefore by not sleeping all that revision isn’t even being stored in your brain!

So, if we aren’t supposed to cram and are instead better off counting sheep, what is the benefit from all this sleep when we could be revising?

Well, Dr. Alapat, the medical director at Harris Health Sleep Disorders Centre, lists numerous ways in which sleep will do nothing but benefit your exams. It turns out that our memory recall and concentration level is massively boosted the more sleep we get. A student should aim to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night, anything less and the lack of sleep begins to impact our mood, energy and ability to focus. This will only drag your grades down! Also a risk of carrying out numerous all nighters in a short period of time can lead to the development of insomnia which will certainly negatively impact your studies.

So there you have it. When it seems like the world is ending, your exams are looming closer and that your only chance of coming out of this year with a 2:1 is to cram…don’t do it! Instead try to relax yourself, stay off those caffeinated drinks (they prevent sleep for up to 6-8 hours) and make sure you are getting enough rest! Balance out your revision and your nap times, cramming will only make you roll up to your exams grumpy and tired with the concentration capacity of a teaspoon.

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