Samantha Flores- Sports & Health Editor
With the end of the school year quickly approaching, there are many things to look forward to: summer, vacations, time with friends, getting a nice tan, and not worrying about homework. However, one thing is holding students back from excitement: end of the year grades. From the last unit tests to EOC’s to AP exams to finals, the time to work the hardest has come. The real question is, how should students prepare to do their absolute best? A common decision that has to be made is cramming all of the information in last minute or studying a month in advance. Both can be effective and harmful in different ways.
Procrastination is almost like a disease plaguing many high-schoolers. It is extremely hard to focus on schoolwork while balancing spring sports, social time, and planning for summer. It becomes difficult for students to focus on the crucial end of year exams, and these tests can hit teens like a truck if prepared for last minute. Many students are found cramming information in at the final second, and in some cases it does more harm than good. A source on the subject reads, “Cramming is one of the least effective ways to learn a subject. Research has found that many students cannot recall much information after a cram session. They have trained their minds to recite the material without developing a deeper understanding.” Cramming can also be very stressful, and keep a student from getting a good night’s rest the night before his exam. On finals and AP exams, material is covered over an entire year. Learning an entire year’s worth of world history or advanced math can leave a student exhausted and confused. However, quick learners and those with photogenic memory use cramming to their advantage. They can retain the information with a lot less stress, but then there lies the risk of questions that require a deep analysis of the course material. Cramming depends on the type of learner and the course that is being studied for. Most kids choose cramming in areas they are stronger in, and that is the best strategy when using this method of studying. On the other hand, long term studying can be a better option for a harder and more intricate class.
Long-term studying can range from months to weeks ahead of an exam or final. Students prepare more slowly and gradually for their test rather than learning it all in a matter of days or even a single night. This type of preparation comes with less stress and a better understanding of material, but it also takes away from time for other classes and dedication to other areas of a student’s life. The longer one waits to begin to prepare, the more he or she has to do each day. With conflicts, long term studying can go from being stress free to being full of stress. Think of it like planning out reading a book: one may set an equal amount of pages for each day. However, if one gets off a day or something arises that conflicts with the schedule, it turns into having to read more the next day. This can result in a domino effect of slacking or even not finishing the book, or in this case, the studying for a class. Students often plan to study ahead of time, but it ends up becoming a cram session. Long term studying requires more dedication and motivation, but it ultimately helps the student. They will have a better understanding of material and can lay out a schedule so they are not as stressed. To be successful in this field of studying, it’s more than just saying one will study; it is making a true effort and working hard each day, sometimes a hard thing for overworked teens to uphold.
Cramming and long term studying are two very different methods of preparation that come at different costs. One means losing sleep and mental health while quickly re-learning an entire class and the other entails sacrificing their social and sports schedules to study with lots of time ahead giving them a better understanding of the material. Researchers say cramming is ineffective, but that really depends on the student, his mental wellbeing, and the class he is studying for. When it comes down to those last crucial weeks of school, decide “Long term studying or cramming?” Students must make a smart decision and choose wisely, or it can tear their GPA apart.