The term is usually frowned upon, but as a medical school student, I’ve come to learn that “cramming” doesn’t deserve the negative connotation it comes with. The vast amount of material that has to be learned in short periods of time leaves little option but to make extremely effective use of the time given to study. Focused and strategic learning in a limited amount of time- this is what I mean by “cramming”. It’s a skill I learned out of necessity, but the value of it can be appreciated by most students. Choosing to treat your normal study sessions with a cramming mentality could be a more effective use of your time than endless hours of unfocused “review.”
Be intentional about studying in the time you have committed to doing so- knowing that you promised to yourself that this is all the time you will be spending specifically studying, be sure to treat it accordingly. Cut out all distractions, have out only the books and notes you need to study with (some extra paper and pens for you tactile learners wouldn’t hurt either!), and get to it. Take frequent breaks- after each chapter/major topic/ at least every hour. The breaks shouldn’t be long at all- just enough time to walk around, think, maybe send a few texts, or have a snack and water. Take a good half hour for meals. Right before you break after finishing a section, be sure to either try some questions testing your recall and understanding, or try to quickly teach yourself (and not just re-reading) what you just learned. Come back from your break and do the same- either try a few questions or teach yourself (or a friend). Questions that test your recall and use of the information you just studied will make it possible to retain information.
Always make sure to get enough sleep afterwards- you must make sure you treat your body to some well-earned rest.
You don’t need to be forced into situations to cram- choose to study efficiently by being intentional about studying in the time you want to, and you’ll find you can really learn more information than you usually would have. It gives you more time to doing the things you would want to, and get to do them without feeling guilty for having not studied yet!
Written by: Editorial Team, My Learning Springboard, Inc.