While cramming and pulling an all-nighter is not preferable, it is sometimes necessary. Before you begin, understand that it would have been more effective to study earlier and more often. Remind yourself that you will have an opportunity to do that the next time. Give yourself permission to be fallible. In short, lighten up. Our brains work better when we aren’t criticizing ourselves.
Even if the end result of your cramming is a good grade, don’t expect to remember the material later. Cramming is really just a short-term memorization aid. If you will need to know the material later – math equations are an example – you’ll probably need to re-review it after the test. The more courses you have to cram for, the less effective cramming will be. Cramming is not the same as learning. If your studying relies solely on cramming, you are cheating yourself of a true education. This point is especially important if you are cramming for mid-terms. You may be unpleasantly surprised during finals. Without additional review and practice, the material learned in cramming sessions is usually quickly forgotten.
Cramming is more work. It takes longer to learn materials when you do it under pressure. You can’t save time by cramming. Its purpose is only to make the best of your situation. Cram to get by in a course, but vow to do better next time. Cramming might help raise your grade if you have been reasonably attentive in class, have taken fair notes, and have read or skimmed most of the material for the course.
While cramming probably won’t get you an “A,” it can definitely save you from an "F” if you follow a few guidelines for effective cramming. There are only a few steps to short term memory cramming:
There are a few additional things you should consider when pulling an all-nighter:
So do all-nighters work? Yes and no. Pulling an all-nighter is a right of passage. It is a time honored tradition that almost all college students will eventually have to do. Two-thirds of college students reported that they had pulled at least one all-nighter during a semester. You may be able to memorize material to pass an exam, but you are not really learning. Several studies have indicated that pulling an all-nighter instead of spending the night sleeping will most likely result in lower test scores. Pulling an all-nighter is nothing short of sleep deprivation. If done repeatedly, it can have harmful effects on the body and the mind.