5 reasons to kick your cramming habit

Scheduling your study in advance can be a daunting task. Instead, you might find yourself wondering 'does cramming for exams work?', as well as wondering what the effects of cramming are.

There are a few reasons cramming doesn't work, and why you should try to plan your studying ahead of time instead of riding the exam cram tram all the way to breakdown town.

1. You'll get more bang for your buck

Spreading out your study time is more effective than doing it all in one go. Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to spend more time studying, you just need to re-order your study time across a number of days or weeks. Phew!

You might find that studying in shorter bursts, like the 25-minute blocks recommended by the Pomodoro technique, works best for you, or you might find that you prefer studying for roughly an hour before taking a break. Whatever you end up doing, try not to study for longer than an hour at a time without taking a break!

2. It'll help you to chill

Putting off studying until the last minute can stress you out. Knowing you need to learn a lot of information in order to perform on your test can be overwhelming. And when you’re overwhelmed, you tend to feel stressed and anxious. The more prepared you are, the less you'll have to stress. While preparing in advance does mean a bit more work, it will pay off in the long run when you’re not reduced to staying up until 3am the night before an exam trying to memorise everything you’ve learned in the past year.

3. Mind blanks will be long forgotten

Exams can freak you out. When you’re stressed it’s harder to remember things. Learning by taking practise tests or by talking about what you’ve learned with a friend or family member helps protect your memory from the negative effects of stress. This means you’re more likely to remember what you’ve learned, and get a better mark on that exam. Winning!

4. More sleep = amazing

We call them all-nighters for a reason, and that’s because you’ll end up staying up from dusk ‘till dawn. While it may seem like a good idea to skimp out on sleep for a few extra hours of study, research shows this won’t do you any favours. Your concentration in the exam room will be patchy, meaning you’re less likely to ace that test.

5. You can say adios to feeling guilty

Planning out your study session means you can schedule in specific times for relaxation and fun activities. So, instead of feeling guilty for watching your fav show or catching up with mates, you'll know it's all part of the master plan. In fact, these rewards can help you to stay motivated throughout your study sesh.

How to stop cramming...

The best way to study is to develop a regular study schedule and stick to it. If you’re going to hit the books the night before an exam, aim to revise, rather than cram. For more advice, check out ReachOut's video where Amy, Philip, Calypso and Christo share their most effective study hacks, which range from colour-coordinating your notes to weighing down your pens (yes, really!).

What if it's too late?

Try not to be too hard on yourself if you've left studying until the last minute. Take a deep breath, and learn from the experience.

First published on ReachOut. ReachOut provides a safe, online place for young people (and their families) to chat anonymously, get support, and feel better.

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