The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

Should Students Cram?

May 10, 2023

(Source: Andrew Lay (II))
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  • Junxiang Lin (I): “Cramming is a great way to learn only the most essential material in a short amount of time.”

  • Zach Chen (II): “Yes, students should cram since studying right before the exam helps significantly more than not studying or studying a few days earlier. However, a better strategy would be to study a bit every day leading up to the exam.”

  • Mae Noonan (III): “They technically shouldn’t, but it is inevitable and learning the material right before makes it fresh in one’s memory.”

  • Aliana Kowalczyk (IV): “Ideally, students should spread studying over many days, but it is often done on the day of tests anyway. So ideally no, but in reality, yes.”

  • Chase Comeaux (V): “Yes, cramming can help you pass your tests and classes. It is what I have been doing for most of my BLS career.”

  • Connor Chin (VI): “You shouldn’t if you don’t need to, but if you really need to, you should.”

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Yes, Students Should Cram.

In a fast-paced school environment like Boston Latin School, there is no realistic way for students to juggle countless assignments, assessments and out-of-school responsibilities without cramming. As the most practical study method, cramming helps students in their professional and academic careers, preparing them for their future careers and allows them to develop skills that will benefit them beyond the classroom.

Cramming improves students’ ability to absorb information quickly. Austin Nguyen (V) shares, “I started to cram for tests and quizzes, and each time I crammed, my comprehension skills became better and better. I started receiving amazing assessment results in a matter of time.” The ability to absorb information rapidly is a life skill that can be applied to one’s professional career, as learning is a lifelong process. 

By regularly cramming, students are also able to manage deadlines more efficiently. This builds up time-management skills, so much so that stress and pressure diminish and become easier to deal with.

Such a skill can be applied to professional experiences like job interviews. During an interview, anxiety skyrockets as the interviewee must formulate a response on the spot. Being familiar with that kind of pressure reduces stress in the moment and helps the interviewee succeed.

Cramming also hones one’s concentration and heightens attentiveness, which is necessary for achieving preferred outcomes with limited time. The mindset of intense productivity as a deadline approaches can be applied in the workplace or to other responsibilities, allowing individuals to excel.

When cramming, short-term memory improves. Remembering concepts in preparation for a test makes them more prominent in a student’s short-term memory, benefiting them during an exam. Nguyen adds, “The information I obtain is able to marinate in my head just long enough for me to thrive during my exam.”

While cramming has occasionally yielded undesirable results, there are a plethora of techniques a student can employ to effectively cram, such as laying out the foundation of the concepts using notes, textbooks, study guides and more.

Although cramming can be seen as a method of absorbing superficial, fleeting knowledge, it helps students learn how to manage their time effectively, identify key concepts and prioritize information under pressure, which can all prove invaluable beyond their academics. Even if their knowledge gained through cramming is not retained in the long run, the skills and qualities developed can be instrumental in shaping a successful and fulfilling life.

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No, Students Should Not Cram.

The usual Boston Latin School student is all too familiar with the rush of a stress-filled night right before an exam the next morning, often resulting in an all-nighter cram session. Although many students turn to cramming when preparing for an exam, it is not an effective or reliable studying method, despite its overwhelming popularity.

In today’s fast-paced world, completing schoolwork can be a challenging experience. With a seemingly endless list of assignments, tests and projects, it is easy to fall behind on the workload. Cramming may seem like an immediate solution to time crunches, but it is ultimately harmful and threatens to have negative consequences on one’s academic performance.

Research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science indicates that cramming for exams can result in diminished learning and poor retention. Although studying the night before a quiz may result in a decent test score, students will most likely struggle during future cumulative exams and larger-scale projects. Allowing for enough time to learn and absorb class material is the key to academic success.

Some students believe that effective study habits can prevent them from feeling swamped by a heavy academic workload in the long run. As Lateef Lawal (III) puts it, “Over my high school years, I don’t feel like I’ve felt overwhelmed due to the fact that I usually study which prepares me for the exam.” By this logic, the pressure to perform well on exams and assignments increases with every instance of cramming. 

Cramming can also give students a false sense of accomplishment. Even though they may feel as if they have mastered the material, this feeling is often short-lived. In most cases, students forget the information they had learned the very next day.

Kenny Mak (II) agrees with this sentiment, saying, “For the few times that I do cram, my results end up where I want them to be or around the level where I want them to be. However, I don’t think that cramming is the most effective way to learn. It’s important to not neglect the extra time I have for studying, but to also make sure that I don’t overthink questions and panic.”

While cramming may initially lead to decent results, it does not help in learning and retaining material long-term. It is important to allocate extra time for studying in order to truly familiarize oneself with the material. Gradually, healthy study habits will pay off and relieve a large part of the stress that comes with test-taking.

Completing homework assignments also to reinforce one’s memory is a much better alternative to cramming, as students can break down the workload into manageable pieces. Taking the time to think about homework reduces the extra studying time allotted to cramming. Completing assignments in advance also helps students identify areas of need.

Although cramming may appear to be a quick fix for the average student’s academic struggles, it ultimately does more harm than good. So, the next time you find yourself reaching for that energy drink and pulling an all-nighter to study, think twice. Rather than sacrificing a good night’s worth of rest, give yourself enough time to genuinely learn and retain information properly. As the old saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.

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