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Posted 4 months ago
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What is the right strategy for cramming information?

You've probably been there before.

It's the day before an exam, and you have to pack all this information inside your head in a short amount of time.

Yes, I am talking about cramming! Cramming is when a person tries to store a large amount of information in their head in a short amount of time.

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Sometimes it might not work, due to factors like stress or not being able to comprehend the subject matter enough. However, there is a way to properly cram information that is both healthy and not done hastily. Here's how it's done.

Before reading the steps that I have outlined below, there are some things to keep in mind. First, I am talking about cramming as a concept; the application of cramming in each course is different, but the general idea can be summarized in two rules; namely, (1) study the concepts first, memorize the details second, and (2) time proximity is important.

  • Step 1: Plan out when you'll be cramming

    Going back to rule #2, it is important that the time between you finishing your cramming and the beginning of the exam is as close as possible. If it is possible, do the majority of the cramming about 15-30 minutes before the test starts. That way, all the details are as fresh in your mind as possible, and thus a minimal chance of you forgetting anything. 

  • Step 2: Assess how well you currently understand the information that you are trying to cram

    As this article has stated, there is a difference recognition and recall. Recall is simply remembering certain details without understanding it (i.e. learning the quadratic formula without actually understanding it), whereas recognition is like understanding how the quadratic formula actually works. One of the reasons cramming doesn't work is that sometimes, testing asks you to conceptually explain something, whereas you only know that something as information that you don't really understand. Combatting this cramming weakness brings us to step 3.

  • Step 3: Learn only the base concepts, and memorize nothing (at first).

    Depending on the information you are trying to cram, you might need to conceptually understand how something works. I unfortunately cannot say much regarding studying for understanding whatever concept it is you need to study, but as a general guideline, it is less of this:

     - Memorizing formulas
     - Memorizing quotations
     - Memorizing terms
     - Reading something over and over

    and more of this:

    - Asking yourself what this formula represents and how I can use this formula
    - What is the significance of this part of the story
    - Understanding the terms in relation to the subject
    - Actual comprehension of what you are reading (even if it's not a very nuanced understanding, it will be sufficient for now)

    Once you do that, we can move over to step #4.

  • Memorization of content
    After you have done all three steps, then you can move on to the actual memorization of content, and cram away! Remember that you planned this in step 1, and timed it to be done right before your test/exam begins (if possible).

    Make sure to prioritize the things that you will memorize based on the most important concepts, and the ones that you are most likely to forget. The ones that you are most likely to forget, are the ones that you took your time learning in step #3.

And that's it! Good luck on the exam!


What does Note Canvas have to do with this?
Note Canvas can be used to store all the information you got from your lecture, be it a PDF, a YouTube video, or just lecture notes. We give you extreme convenience by being able to store your PDF files, your own lecture notes, YouTube videos that you want to watch for later, all in one page! You would not have to go anywhere else (assuming you have all the notes posted in there).

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