Damning the cramming

Okay, so I'll admit an ulterior motive behind those weekly quizzes in "Understanding Media" class. The ulterior motive is that I'm naturally perverse. Just kidding. The ulterior motive is that it's a reasonable way to encourage you to pick up information from the text in small bites rather than big gulps. In fact, cramming the night before the test is about the worst way to retain information. We retain information more like a wine bottle than a dishpan: poured in slowly. So rather than grunt through the night before an exam, you'd probably be better prepared by getting a good night's sleep.
You don't believe me on this, I can tell. Okay, how about Martin Schuster, a psychologist who researches these things at the University of Cologne. Intensively cramming for hour after hour through the night is "just too much," says Schuster. It may make you feel that you've met your duty, but it doesn't lead to better grades. In fact, Schuster gives his students a few tips on better exam preparation:

Go to the exam thinking positively. Say to yourself, "I'll pass" every morning.
Frankly, I think that last one sounds a little far-fetched, but, hey, can't hurt to try.


Copyright 2004 by Ross F. Collins <www.ndsu.edu/communication/collins>