Cramming for Finals

Julie Paulson

As the end of the semester rapidly approaches, college students across the country begin to worry about the final hurdle before Christmas break: Final Exams.

Scroll through the “finals,” “tests,” “college,” “school” or “studying” tags on social media websites like Tumblr or Twitter and you will see many hopeless, panicked, hilarious, sarcastic and often obscene posts about all the trouble students are having with their studies.

“My studying is more vigorous because it’s the end of the semester,” says Jacob Walz, sophomore in criminal justice. “I need good grades to get to the next semester.”

And as students panic, they begin to hunker down in one last attempt to learn all the material they were supposed to have been studying all along throughout the semester in a move commonly known as “cramming.”

Many people have a few common tips. Some students say that “coffee is your friend”, “learn the important parts”, “you can pull an all-nighter” or “just make up parts of that paper.” So the question is, which tips and tricks work and which will hurt students in the long run?

Students are told at the beginning of every semester and in many academic success classes that cramming is the least efficient way to study and should be used only as a last resort. But when it comes down to the wire and the exam is only a day away, cramming may be the only choice some students have.

“It’s worked in the past,” Walz said. “Depending on the challenge and the subject of the class.”

So what can the stressed out students do to maximize the effectiveness of their cramming? Some can look up various tips on the Internet and try and sort out the best ones that fit them, adding another hour of figuring out how to study to their workload. They can panic and procrastinate, thinking they will find time later. Or they can just read the chapters or their notes over and over in the hopes that the material will sink in.

The Academic Success Center on campus strongly advises against cramming, but in a pinch, offers the following advice:

1. Write a course summary to remember how the information was organized.

2. Work through notes but skim the text to get the important points.

3. Take breaks and get at least six to eight hours of sleep to reduce stress levels.

4. Only study what is important.

5. Eat well and stick to your exercise plan.

6. Record this experience to remind yourself not to procrastinate next semester.

“I don’t pull all nighters,” said Kelsey Burggraff, freshman in apparel merchandising and design. “It’s better to guess [the answers I don’t know] and get some sleep.”

For students who don’t plan to do all their studying in one night, various study groups are being offered around campus in common subjects such as math, science and psychology. The Academic Success Center offers more general advice for studying for finals, including forming calendars to write study schedules, a day-by-day breakdown of Dead Week and by using the organization’s tutoring program and help center hours.