To cram or not to cram

Alexus Bomar

When it comes to studying, students do one of the following: study days in advance, study the day before (cram) or don’t study at all.  But many students may be studying the wrong way, which could impact their grades.

Figuring out how to study comes with trial and error. Every student studies differently, but learns one way that works better than others.

Melanie Chamberlain, academic adviser in the First Year Advising Center, stated that the most effective study habit is taking 10-minute study breaks, while the least effective is reacting to temptations.  

“Commit to studying for half an hour, then reward yourself with a 10-minute break, then repeat,” she said.

Chamberlain explained that the least effective study habit is being distracted by temptations such as using a phone or putting on a favorite show.  She suggested that students put their phones in a different room and don’t watch a show because neither is ideal for an effective study environment.

Every college student may have encountered some difficulties when it comes to studying. The Student Success Service is one place students can go to get tips on studying, along with tips on time management and test-taking anxiety.

“Right after class or as soon as possible, students should take 15 minutes to review the material covered that day,” Michele Applebee, student success coordinator, said. “Students will be surprised at how much more information they retain.”

Applebee said that every student falls victim to another least effective study habit, which is cramming. Our brains aren’t designed to take in large amounts of information in a small amount of time, so she suggests studying well ahead of exams, two weeks if possible, in short increments.

If a student doesn’t know how to go about studying, Applebee suggests using the SQ3R Method (Survey, Question, Read, Recite & Review).  It guides a student through how to read a textbook and how to remember key material that will help with an upcoming quiz or test. Visit the Study Guides and Strategies at for more information on this method.

If you need more tips and ideas on how to study better, visit the Student Success Service in Hamlin Hall or the Tutoring Center in North Foundation Hall.