No, Students Should Not Cram.

By Louis Nguyen (IV), Contributing Writer

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.