Cramming: A Student’s Best Friend? March 4, 2011Posted by ljsteele in Behavior, Biology, Chemistry, Health, Medicine, Science & Culture, Uncategorized.
The night flies by…
As a senior undergraduate student, slowly over the past four years I have realized the importance of cramming before a test. Simply put, by this stage in my academic career, it has become routine to stay up all night before a test to study. In classes where there are multiple choice tests, it appears to be easier to stay up all night cramming, as is the belief that if you at least can recognize the question, ruling out the different choices for the answer becomes quite simple. It has been shown that over a third of students cram the night before a test.
However, although many students utilize the practice of cramming, whether or not it helps students is up for debate. There are different levels of cramming, and each appear to cause different results when it comes to grades and GPA. The issue that is starting to be seen is that although cramming may help in terms of short term memory, the retention of that information weeks after the course ends seems to be up in the air. Of course, when cramming is being utilized, it only makes sense that the information storage would be contained in the frontal lobe of the brain, while long term memory, which would be associated with studying that has taken place over numerous days or weeks, would be stored over multiple parts of the brain.
Many different universities have brought to light the health implications that one may bring upon him or herself when cramming. But, it is also shown that certain periods of acute stress are positive for the human body, which cramming would appear to fall under the category of acute stress. During acute stress, the body increases its fight or flight response (epinephrine and norepinephrine), shuts down digestion, reproductive systems, and boosts metabolism. Vasoconstriction and vasodilation also take place, therefore pumping blood into certain areas of the body and brain that during a normal day’s activities may not get stimulated very often. Especially during the fight or flight response, one becomes more attentive, which would seem to help with say, studying for a huge test.
Are there more effects than just retaining information?
Although cramming may not be ideal for certain people, research needs to continue in terms of stress and cramming, and even learning styles. Certain people are exposed to more stress than others, so possibly stress levels are compromised, leading to a decreased ability to study and cram the night before a test. Students continue to cram because results are obtained on tests and finals. Quite possibly cramming could do more than just get a student a good grade on a test-it could also help to train the body for different stress activities that otherwise may not be achieved.