Why Cramming Doesn’t Work

June 11, 2020

Proper study habits is a necessary skill to develop, especially if you’re planning to go into a research-intensive career. However, the temptation to cram things on the last day seems like a habit that comes up for most students. Although cramming should be a last resort, people who get comfortable with doing it frequently end up hurting themselves in the long-term.

Where does the impulse of cramming come from?

Cramming is a behavioural response to stress and anxiety. For example, a person could be dealing with other social responsibilities so cramming feels like a valid option. In other cases, a person who isn’t great at organising their time can end up cramming for one subject to spend more time on another. Like an addiction, you end up thinking that doing things at the last minute is a safe activity if you get decent results back. However, this complacency can prevent you from realising your potential.

Is cramming an effective strategy?

Cramming is an ineffective learning strategy because it depends on a student’s stress levels. A person can only learn so much information in a short period. The time pressure of an urgent deadline for the next day or so is the motivation for the student. This causes stress to affect their concentration negatively and causes them to overload on receiving too much information.

Cramming prevents you from experiencing two things that are integral in learning: recognising your mistakes and taking your time. Part of studying is allowing yourself to make wrong answers and correct them later on by yourself or with a study group. This experience of learning deepens your understanding of the subject matter.

The information you cram is limited and stays only in your short-term memory. If you cram three weeks’ worth of reading in one night, you don’t have the liberty of double-checking your notes since you have a looming deadline at the back of your head.

How do I study without cramming?

Developing positive studying habits is a common reason why parents enrol their children in additional learning services like high school tutoring. It’s not to give extra workload to their child, but to teach them about the value of managing their time and making the most of it. The key to studying without cramming is a matter of blocking off distractions to focus on the task in front of you.

First, block off a set time slot to dedicate to just studying. Make sure to observe this strictly. Instead of focusing on your progress by looking at the time, read at your own pace. You can set up alarms in intervals to show you how much time you have left, but don’t look at the time while you’re studying.

It’s helpful for most students to write notes while studying. Additionally, making a lesson plan like a teacher will be easier for you to break down your learnings. Remember to go over your personal notes two or more times until you can simplify complicated concepts.

Finally, remember to give yourself enough sleep. Forcing yourself to study at late hours could lead to a negative learning experience. It’s best to work at a time where you won’t have to rush your studying session.


Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be so afraid of tests. Usually, these are markers of your personal progress in understanding the subject. This is why the band-aid solution of relying on your short-term memory will be ineffective for when it counts on finals exams. Cramming is a habit you should unlearn to ensure that you’ll be ready for the even greater challenges of university life.

Sometimes, it’s best to have a helping hand to assist you in developing your study habits. Young Growth Academy offers HSC tutoring in Penrith to help you be a better student. Book a trial subscription with us today, and you’ll see the difference our interactive learning experience can make!