Don’t Cram for Exams

Alternative study methods to cramming for exams.

A graph showing how students forget material after not studying it again.

Image/Graphics by Cambridge Coaching

A graph showing how students forget material after not studying it again.

Cramming for an exam is not a very effective form of studying, so students should learn other techniques to help retain information. Spaced-out studying, active studying, and online study games are all practical, alternative study methods for students.

Spaced-out studying is a less stressful way to prepare for exams that will help students retain information for extensive periods. Spaced-out studying is the exact opposite of cramming, which is studying for an intense time right before the exam or test. When preparation is spaced-out, there are sessions spread ac. Practicing like this will make for more long-lasting learning. Also, make sure to study in short bursts. Roughly every thirty minutes, take a ten to fifteen-minute break, maybe get a snack and relax.

In addition to practicing spaced-out studying, there are other methods to try and use. Strategies students may not want to use to prepare for tests include flashcards and vocab sheets. Though flashcards and vocab sheets are common ways to memorize terms and definitions, vocabulary might not retain after the test. Reading and re-reading notes or texts typically leads to quick forgetting. Reading is considered an essential component of pre-studying, but effectively learning the information requires actively engaging in the material.

Active studying is reviewing the material but constructing meaning and connections to understand it better. Ways to actively study include; making practice quizzes, saying the information aloud, creating explanatory diagrams, or breaking the information into steps. It is often helpful to have another person give questions and definitions to complete. When studying for an exam or test, organize your review material first, then begin reviewing by topic. Oxford says, “being properly organized and prepared for tests and exams can make all the difference to school performance. Effective studying starts with the right attitude—a positive outlook can shift studying from a punishment to an opportunity to learn.”

Another method to consider is using an online study game such as Kahoot, Quizzizz, Gimkit, Blooket, or Quizlet. These games are fun and very helpful for remembering terms and definitions in a short time, especially with friends.

To be equipped for tests, do not forget to actively study, prepare and organize the material, and study in short bursts.

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