You Know Cramming Is Bad For You, But Do You Know Why?


Absolutely no one (but desperate students) encourages cramming, cramming is bad for you. Most teachers will instead encourage students to space out reading over the course of a school year to achieve the best results.

Despite the fact that we have heard this over the years, a lot of us still find ourselves cramming information into our heads the night before a big exam or a big presentation.

It is hopeful that the reality of cramming persists because people have not seen enough reason as to why it is bad, so here we share a discovery on the issue that will make you think about cramming in a different way.

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Cramming is a technique which as the very word suggests entails a student on any subject committing in a short span of time, a huge chunk of information to memory.

People who participate in this activity require just one thing to feel comfortable; familiarity with the text and after five hours of studying for a subject with different devices applied to avoid sleep, it is easy to think that we have something committed to memory.

Cramming Is Bad Because It Simply Makes You Familiar With Concepts

Reading through and recognizing concepts and terms assures us of the fact that we have the text under our control. Unfortunately, familiarity is really bad at predicting whether we can recall something. Being able to recognize something is vastly different from being able to recall it.

What cramming does is, leave a lingering glow of activity in your sensory and memory systems, a glow that allows your brain to swiftly tag your notes as “something that you have seen before”.

Cramming Is Bad

The key to understanding the difference between familiarity/ recognition and actual recall is realizing that different  parts of the brain support different kinds of memory.

Where recognition is affected by the ease with which information passes through the sensory areas of our brain (like the visual cortex), recall is supported by the networking of different areas of the brain (frontal cortex and the temporal lobe) which work together to recreate a memory from the clues you give it.

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So whereas your visual cortex is processing notes after five hours of determinedly committing the same thing to memory, the rest of your brain may be quite unable to reconstruct the memory of the notes when you need it to.

If you manage even to recall the information for the particular exam or presentation, it never becomes something that you know. Recalling it at a future date will be next to impossible. So there you have our case for saying cramming is bad and encouraging spaced out reading and study, we hope it makes a difference.