Why do students cram when it comes to exams?

Why do students cram when it comes to exams? images of students in an examSo let me ask you why do students cram when it comes to exams?  With mid year exams around the corner in the Southern Hemisphere and final exams in the Northern Hemisphere approaching, I thought it was a good time to have a discussion around cramming and exams.  In my experience as an Academic Life Coach it is a very common occurrence amongst students and that there are many different reasons why.  These include:

  • Procrastination – students regularly think they have more time than they do to prepare.  Unfortunately this often comes back to bite them.  They end up running out of time to ensure they revise and study in any form of detail.
  • Worried they won’t retain the information if they study or revise too early – this is logical in their minds.  However, they don’t realise that by putting different strategies in place earlier is better.  They are more likely to ensure the information is stored in their long term memory and there to recall when they need it.  A more effective approach to preparing for exams.
  • They don’t know any different and think that’s what they should do – many students don’t really know what it means to actually study and revise.  Students do however know they need to do it, as they are told often enough by parents and teachers.  They just don’t know or realise there is a better and more effective way!
  • Students are not taught study or revision strategies, or not taught effectively – Teachers have a lot to get through in teaching students the curriculum.  Unfortunately therefore they don’t often have time to include teaching students this as well.
  • Image of a stressed student - why do students cram when it comes to exams?Some students get anxious and stressed – they feel that cramming the night before will make them less anxious or stressed.  They believe they will be able to cope better.  Where in effect this usually only increases their stress and anxiety levels further.  Cramming the night before can also end up affecting their actual exam performance too.
  • Believing that cramming is the best strategy – many students just feel that they need to do this to ensure a greater chance of success.  They obviously don’t know the content as well as they should.  Students hope their short term memory will retain it just long enough to get them through.
  • So they can use cramming as an excuse as to why the don’t do well – I left it to the last minute so that is why I didn’t do as well.  I have seen this with a few students who blame the cramming.  They don’t tend to blame the lack of preparation prior to this for their low results.
  • Not really understanding the difference between learning and studying – they might think that cramming is studying.  You just adopt this approach and this is how you pass an exam.  There might be a natural disconnect somewhere in their minds in understanding the difference between the two.
  • Believing that cramming is more efficient – they think if they study too early they will just forget it and have to study it all over again. So why do it more than you have to.  It is more efficient to them to wait and do only once.  Naturally, this is not a great approach for students to have.  It is very rare cramming is actually the best strategy.
  • Image of stressed student at his desk - learn why students can get stressedStarting to study or revise earlier is uncomfortable and challenging – cramming can be seen as a less painful strategy in the eyes of some students.  They don’t want to believe that learning something new can be hard.  Unfortunately students now days generally tend to look for the easiest option!

Does your child cram?  Do they leave their revision to the night before?  Do they not do as well in exams as they do with their course work or even tests during the term or semester?  If you are nodding your head then your child might benefit from learning strategies and tools to allow them to study smarter not harder when it comes to exams.

PS if you know of other reasons as to why your child might cram that are different to the above please do share!

PPS here’s a link to another BLOG to learn some helpful tips to support your child in preparing for exams

To get in touch and learn more please email or give me a call to discuss your child and their needs – [email protected] – 0409 967 166.