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After writing post after post discussing how much you shouldn’t use cramming, you might get the mistaken impression that I have something deeply against cramming.
The truth is that I don’t really mind cramming. There are some negative consequences that come with it that need to be accounted for but the cram alone is not the problem. The big problem is the reliance on cramming.
The problem isn’t so much cramming. The problem is needing to cram in the first place.
If you have a halfway decent study routine (one that you actually follow through on) then you should not need to cram.
You should have had plenty of time to study what you had to study long before the night before the test.
If you’re not all prepared the night before the test then the cram isn’t your problem, it’s the weeks before the cram that are your problem.
I typically recommend not to cram if it gets to this point because it comes with major risks.
One risk is that you ruin any positive associations you have to studying.
It could take days to get back on a good study routine after that.
Another major risk is that you’ll end up letting yourself make the same mistake of not studying enough the weeks before the test because you know you have that safety net of the cram waiting to save your grade.
It’s sometimes better to take the hit in the ouchies and learn your lesson.
The concept of putting a ton of work in when you need it is actually something I greatly value. The cram just happens to be an example of that with negative consequences. I bring that up to get to show a contrast to the real point I’m trying to make.
There are days when you’re going to be working like crazy.
School work cycles together. All final projects in classes will be due around the same weeks. All midterm projects will be due around the same time. Right when things start to get busy, they’ll start to get even more busy. That’s the nature of the system.
There is no easy way around that.
Sure… sometimes you’ll luck out and be able to start a final project months before it’s due but most of the time teachers will be throwing you the details way too late in the year to let you get a head start.
When a lot of important work shows up in a single moment, that is a defining moment for you.
That is the moment most students will say, “I can’t do this.” They’ll slack off. At best, they’ll half-ass their work.
That is the moment when those students should be saying, “this is what I’ve been preparing for.” They could put extra time into their work and do a killer job on all of it because they’re not letting the stress define their productivity.
I believe in skipping low priority work (at least occasionally.)
The reason I believe in skipping low priority work because it’s letting you have the time you deserve. You should be able to slack off when the work barely means anything.
That being said, when the moment comes for you to start putting in a real effort, I highly recommend you find it in yourself.
Cyclical work is good.
When you know you’re only going to have to work hard for one or two weeks, those one or two weeks aren’t that bad.
When you’re polluting your time with low priority work, you’ll never know how good it can feel to push yourself for the stuff that really matters. You’ll be worn out before you even get the chance to start.
If you happen to be a gamer think about it this way: don’t go pummeling every enemy in sight. Save some health for the boss battles.
Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.
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