Why Cramming Before Break is Bad for You

December has officially started, which means teachers are rushing to cram in units, tests, and assignments in before we are finally released for our two-week winter break. As of today, Friday, December 6th, we have exactly two weeks until we walk out of school for the last time this month. For academic classes, this means tests will be upcoming in about a week, and all of them will roughly land around the same time. I understand why they do this– to keep lessons and information fresh in their student memories– but is this healthy for their students?
When asked their opinions, students were more than happy to share their grievances. Senior Annie Boyle commented that too much testing in a short period of time resulted in her feeling “probably one of the worst feelings [she’d] ever felt.”
Boyle was not the only one to say they disliked a large group of tests. Andrew White, a year below Boyle, added: “it’s pretty horrible, especially during finals week.”
Students generally do not or can not begin studying for their upcoming tests until a few days before. Combine this with the four or five other tests they have coming up, and the result is an abundance of studying to be done in the upcoming weeks. The problem with this, though, is that cramming, or forcing themselves to do too much work in a short period of time, is ineffective. Cramming, although it may seem useful to the student at the time, does not help with long term memory. That means that students who cram right before a test will still get average grades, but they are likely to forget the information once it is no longer useful. When this technique is falsely proved efficient, it becomes a regular study plan. The recollection of information becomes harder and harder, and the point of school gets lost in the mix. What is the point of doing all this work only to forget it the next day? Nothing. Cramming also results in loss of sleep, overconsumption of caffeine, and studying in other classes the morning of. This not only distracts from learning and focusing on other classes, but also negatively affects students’ health.
There are other ways to study that create less stress and increase long term memory. Studies have shown that studying in different environments, and intertwining your subjects, may be the way to go. This takes longer, but studying in different places prevents your mind from linking information to place, and instead forces you to learn the information by heart. Also, mixing subjects results in a more alert mind while studying. For instance, if a student writes a paragraph, then switches to their math homework for a few problems, when they come back to the essay they have a fresh mind and it helps with retention. Overall, instead of cramming this holiday season, students should be able to know the content of their tests beforehand so they can get the optimal study plan. If this isn’t accepted, teachers should at least try to stagger their tests, so that students don’t feel as pressured or stressed. This would be a great improvement that would not only relieve the students but also improve their grades.