To cram or not to cram?

Whether ‘tis nobler in the classroom to fail. The tests and quizzes of outrageous topics, Or to use cramming against a test of trash, And by doing so end them?

Just as Hamlet questioned the value of existence, students question the value of cramming.

Just as Hamlet questioned the value of existence, students question the value of cramming.

Josh Brooks, Staff Writer

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Commonly cramming is seen as a bad thing that students normally do when they are unaware or unprepared for a test.  This isn’t always the case, though; cramming can be very helpful for students to remember words or phrases that they might not have known otherwise.  The purpose for cramming isn’t to learn everything.  It’s to be able to make connections with words so that if they appear in the test the student can get that answer correct.  If a student is studying five minutes before a test, then they aren’t trying to learn; they’re trying to get a good grade.

I asked one of East Lake’s many AP students, senior Amanda Foreman, how she prepared for a test.  “It depends on the test but sometimes a night or two before I cram until I feel like I understand everything,” she said.  Amanda also mentioned that for a harder class like AP Chemistry she would do “distributed studying” to learn the material better.

While cramming isn’t always a bad thing, there is a good time and a bad time for it.  For a cumulative test, cramming isn’t always the best idea because of the sheer amount of material being thrown into the test.  For a chapter or module test it would be a better because there is less to remember and more success can be found.

As a student, I have found that if there is a question that I don’t know on a multiple choice test, I will pick an answer that I know instead of something I don’t know and this is where cramming helps.  Cramming becomes increasingly more productive if the test is some sort of vocabulary or matching test.  By being able to associate words with certain topics, guessing on questions becomes a lot more successful.

For a test based around taking information and applying it to a new idea like most AP test are evolving into, this wouldn’t be successful at all because cramming isn’t for concepts; it’s for quick memory.  With any test based around memory, cramming is very successful because one or two word associations are really easy to make.  Also, the shorter the associations the student can make, the more that they can remember.  Cramming isn’t as bad as most teachers make it out to be.  Being able to make associations between 10 smaller things that are going to be on a test is a lot more productive than spending hours before the test memorizing the same things.  Unless what is going on in a class is something that you want to do in college or as a career, memorization isn’t that important and passing the test is more often than not the main goal and cramming does help accomplish that.

 

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