‘Cramming’ Before Exam: Highly Inefficient

Crap! I forgot to study for my Biology final tomorrow! Oh well, I guess I can just buy a six-pack of Redbull and pull an all-nighter.” This is an habitual approach that college students take in preparation for final exams. Yet, studies show that “cramming” is one of the quickest ways to ensure failure on a college final according to the BBC. Whether it be through the use of energy drinks or amphetamines, students around the country have been seeking the easiest way to minimize effort and increase results of performance on these tests for decades now. With the emergence of the highly effective “study drug” Adderall, modern American youths have been resorting to morally questionable means of final exam preparation in recent years.

In July 2006, a study conducted by Harvard Medical School discovered that cramming for a test lowers a student’s cognitive abilities. Researchers, facilitated by Professor Seung-Schik Yoo, deprived students of sleep for 36 hours before putting them through a rigorous test which gauged their ability to solve problems on a standard college-level final exam. They found that, “Chronic all-night cramming leads to exaggerated emotional reactions in college students who don’t break the habit,” says Demand Media Analyst, Ralph Heibutzki of the Harvard Crimson.

When Adderall, a prescription amphetamine designed to combat the symptoms of ADHD and Narcolepsy, hit the market in the mid-nineties, it was meant to aid those who struggle with uncontrollable disorders to function in a more normal manner. Instead, over the course of ten years the drug leaked onto this country’s streets with the ferocity of cocaine in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 10% of all college students actively use the drug today, and more than 80% don’t believe it is very dangerous to use as a study aid. This is a staggering number, when considering the damaging effects of the drug after long-term use.

Jennifer Berney, a Creative Writing instructor at the SPSCC, tells her pupils, “We are all procrastinators to one degree or another.” This can lead to an overwhelming desire in students to forsake that almighty tenet of mankind (sleep), and subsequently the one thing that would almost certainly ensure more success on these dreaded tests. Research by harrishealth.org indicates that a good diet and healthy amount of sleep, paired with timely study habits, is generally the surest way to achieve success on a final exam. With today’s constant stimulation available to adolescents, this is easier said than done. Every student on campus asked for the opportunity before them, which is all the more reason to put in the proper amount of effort.

As the old saying goes, “The only way past adversity is through it. Not around, over, or under it, but through it.” This idiom applies specifically to those who wish to avert the tribulations of being a student. Everyone struggles, everyone has procrastinated, but the research shows that cramming is hardly the best way to cope with the stress of being an ambitious young person in today’s world.