It’s nearing 5 a.m. We’re sipping our eighth Red Bull since this hellish study session began, our eyes barely open as we pour over page after page of that Biology II textbook that we should’ve started studying months ago. We’ve all found ourselves here before. Cramming, the third-most popular word in the college student’s dictionary next to “Broke” and “Help,” rules our lives and sends us into multiple anxiety attacks a semester. So where do college students across the country stand on the most pressing and controversial inquiry: Does last-minute cramming actually help?
“Yes, because I don’t do anything else and I’ve made it this far, right?” –Christopher Ortiz, Sophomore, English, Florida State University
“It’s been pretty helpful in my experience to make sure I remember formulas or identities correctly, but not all that helpful to understand concepts, at least, as far as STEM classes go as for non-STEM classes last minute cramming hasn’t really done much for me.” –Bill Daws, Sophomore, Computer Science, Temple University
“It really depends on how strong your short term versus long term memory is. My short term storage is much better than long, so cramming helps a lot but only for facts, dates, formulas, etc. As far as having to explain a concept via essay or scenario questions, I might be in trouble.” –Amanda Loe, Sophomore, Health Information Management, Temple University
“Yes, you can throw a little bit more into short-term memory for a few minutes without having any good ways to remember it in the long run. During biochemistry, I never bothered to memorize the citric acid cycle enzymes and substrates, so I just made a small chart of them, and for 10 minutes before the test, just read through it out loud over and over again, and then I got most of the citric acid cycle questions right.” –Jake Troy, Senior Medical School Student, Florida State University
“It helps short term but definitely not long term. You can cram and do well on an exam but I bet if you took that same exam after a few months, you’d do much worse.” –Erin Gillespie, Sophomore, Environmental Science, Florida State University
“Nope. It’s not how we encode info or recall it.” –Mark-Anthony Williams, Environmental Studies Alumnus 2015, Florida State University
“I pulled all-nighters for every exam in General Chemistry II one semester… and I didn’t pass so it definitely doesn’t work. I studied better for other classes and did well then too.” –Derek Bamonte, Senior, Exercise Science, Florida State University
“As a music major, there is no such thing.” –Kyle Blessing, Sophomore, Music, Temple University
“Not really, but it depends on the subject. For math, I need to study for a while until I get it and know I understand it.” –Johanna Badget, Pasco Hernando State College
“For the most part, no. It’s best to spread studying out. We can only absorb information effectively and for a longer period of time, if we take in little bits at a time. Cramming is only worthwhile if you have no other option or if you feel it’s currently the best way to engage your focus and creativity. Some people work better under pressure. In the end though, it’s best to take that ‘under the gun’ mentality and work in spurts throughout the week. Switch up study methods to help with focus: videos, writing, applied/active research, reading, talking/teaching, etc.” –Nicole Korolevich, Senior, Creative Writing and Religion, Florida State University
The Final Word
Cramming helps me remember specific facts and details more clearly since I have a strong short-term memory. Last year, I discovered I work best under pressure when I crammed for a World Religions exam and earned a 101 percent. But just because it worked for me and a few others doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect answer for you too. Experiment with your studying habits to see what helps you retain the most information. If cramming is up to your speed, then by all means, join our caffeine-fueled club of madness.
Whether you choose to cram your brain in one night or spam it over the course of several, may your final grade be ever in your favor.