Even if you’re not at school anymore this information can come in handy.
David Earnest, PhD, is a professor with the Texas A&M College of Medicine and is a studying our bodies circadian rhythms. So not only his he well versed with what happens to our brains when we stay up to late, he’s also well aware of the inefficient tactics his students use to try and cram info an evening before a big test. He gave a couple tips that should give us the edge next time we consider cramming.
1. Don’t Lose Sleep
“Sleep deprivation’s effect on working memory is staggering,” said David Earnest. “Your brain loses efficiency with each hour of sleep deprivation.”
Everyone needs about 7 or 8 hours sleep so don’t go skimping, especially before a big test.
2. All-Nighters Only Activate Short Term Memory
By the time you’re considering doing an all-nighter you’re probably screwed anyway, either that or you’re one of those bastards that barely needs to study and still gets top grades.
“When we try to learn information quickly, we’re only enabling short-term memory,” Earnest said. “This memory type extinguishes rapidly. If you don’t ‘re-use’ information, it disappears within a period of a few minutes to a few hours. Cramming doesn’t allow information to assimilate from short-term to long-term memory, which is important for performing well on a project or exam.”
3. Study in Small Chunks Throughout The Day
“It’s fruitless to prepare for an exam hours beforehand,” he said. “The optimal study method is to stay on top of things and prepare by studying in small chunks (20 to 30 minutes), multiple times per day, three to four days in advance of the test. By going through information numerous times, you’re allowing your brain to move those facts to long-term memory for better recall.”