Cramming for Tests is Less Effective than you Think

End-of-semester exams are fast approaching. When will your child start studying?

At some time during their academic careers, almost all students cram for a test at least once – that is, they wait to study until the day or even the night before, then spend several hours intensely reviewing the material.

According to a 2009 study, cramming is less effective than spacing out one’s studies over several episodes in an evening and several days (or even a week or two) before an exam. Students don’t realize it – 72% of participants believed that cramming was more effective than the alternative – but the numbers don’t lie. Fully 90% of the study’s test subjects who spaced out their studies made better scores than the test subjects who crammed.

While your child may protest that it really does work for them, cramming is simply not the most effective method of preparing for a test. So even though end-of-semester exams are more than a week away for most students, it isn’t too early to start studying. Encourage your child to start making flashcards this weekend. If they go over the cards briefly on multiple days between now and the exam, and if they continue to study all cards including the ones they already know, they’ll be preparing much more effectively and should attain a higher grade than they otherwise might have.