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The Daily Illini

Cramming before finals can be bad for health


As finals week approaches once again, some students have already broken out their textbooks and begun reviewing their materials. Others, however, like Jessica Ost, freshman in general studies, said cramming the night before an exam actually helps her to focus.

“I guess cramming is better for me,” Ost said. “For some classes it’s better to cram, because if I don’t then, it’s spread out and I forget things.”

Ost said she has done well on some of the exams she has crammed for because the information stays fresh in her mind.

Ost added that she thinks procrastination has become a habit among most college students, and since cramming does not work for every individual, or every exam, students should try to start studying earlier.

“I procrastinate a lot,” Ost said. “I’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to study tonight,’ but then I don’t and end up doing something completely unrelated to school.”

Jennifer Carson, wellness prevention specialist and stress management educator for McKinley Health Center, said depending on the individual, cramming can be harmful to a student’s health if practiced over long periods of time.

“Students should try to get through work earlier so that they don’t have to have all-nighters,” Carson said. “I think there are more effective ways to study.”

Ost said that although cramming does sometimes work for her, she has felt an increased amount of stress, sleepiness and dizziness when she studies all night before a final.

Tyrone Phillips, freshman in FAA, said he crams for half of his classes and has felt hyper and dizzy while taking a final.

Carson said getting adequate sleep, eating healthily and taking occasional study breaks can help students be more prepared for their finals. How students choose to manage their study time, however, is completely up to them.

Phillips said he would start studying earlier for his exams if he had the time.

“Time is an issue for a lot of students,” Phillips said. “I always end up having a lot to do and then I procrastinate and end up cramming.”

Phillips added that he thinks cramming can be a good thing for some of his classes in terms of memorization.

“It depends on the test if you should study earlier or not,” Phillips said. “I think for languages like my Spanish class, it’s more beneficial to start earlier, but I don’t know how huge of a difference it could make.”

Carson said she thinks studying in advance can make a big difference in how efficient and concentrated students are while taking their finals.

“Giving yourself necessities while preparing for an exam makes you feel relaxed,” Carson said. “It refreshes your mind and body.”

Carson added that if students can learn to improve their time management skills, it could lead to better outcomes in the future.

“Cramming builds stress and intensity, and if students use time and stress management, they won’t feel out of balance,” Carson said. “This can lead to long-term benefits.”

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