Students know that cramming for an exam isn’t the most effective way to learn. But, a vicious cycle of procrastination intertwined with obligations outside of school often leads to cramming — even though we know it’s not effective, longterm! Dr. Ileana Berman discusses the concept:

So, you have an exam tomorrow.  Did you study?  If not, you’ll probably find yourself pulling an all-nighter and cramming weeks worth of curriculum overnight.  By the morning, you’ll likely remember what you studied because it’s fresh in your mind.  (Who knows, you might even ace that test, too!)

But while you’re able to remember what you crammed last night, will you be able to truly retain that information for the long haul?

A recent article by Sanjay Sarma and Luke Yoquinto suggests that not only is cramming ineffective, but it can also have negative long term effects.  Instead, students are urged to study over a longer period of time.  Dr. Ileana Berman suggests that students utilize the time leading up to the test to truly learn — rather than cram information in for short lived memorization.  All the while, it is also recommended to create a study cheat sheet that gathers key points that the student either struggles to remember, or prove to be particularly important.  The night before the test, students should simply look over their cheat sheet and give themselves ample time to sleep before the test.  Sleep, as it turns out, has wonderful cognitive effects, and will actually assist students in their testing efforts much more than cramming information all night long!