Hi, folks! Today's post is about cramming vs. learning. As students, we have all crammed for a test at one time or another. Hey, some of us knew no other way to study for a test! But we also know that cramming isn't the best way to retain information. In fact, it's the worst way, as the material we study in one sitting (like an all-nighter) is only stored in our short-term memory, which is good enough to regurgitate that information for the next day's test. This is why so many of us did well cramming in school.
The SAT or ACT, however, are not short tests for which you can memorize a series of facts. If you attempt to cram for them, you will find yourself in a heap of trouble. There is so much information packed into one exam that it's crucial to give yourself enough time to really prepare for it. Cramming won't cut it when you need to understand concepts and make connections between different types of questions, which is an important aspect of the SAT.
Here is an except from a recent article on cramming from Popular Science:
If the ubiquity of immersion-style language programs, emergency test prep classes, bleary-eyed college kids and caffeine-fueled energy potions is any indication, cramming is a wildly popular study strategy. Professors frown upon it yet collude by squashing vast topics like "Evolution" or "World history 1914 to present" into the last week of a course. So is cramming effective or not? A new study by UC–San Diego psychologists confirms what you may suspect deep down: The answer is no. Hurried memorization is a hopeless approach for retaining information.**
So, as appealing as a day-long or weekend SAT or ACT course might be, you'd be better off studying over several months to properly prepare for the tests. Bad news for a student's schedule; excellent news for their scores!