Why It is Foolish to Cram for Exams

In “The Future of the Mind:  The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind” Dr Kaku presents some results that might provide the answer.   When fruit flies were administered an extra CREB suppressor gene, they could not learn all.  However, if administered an extra CREB activator gene, learning became almost automatic.  The scientists involved in these studies theorize that we have a fixed amount of CREB activator in the brain that can limit the amount we can learn in any specific time.  Students who try to cram before a test quickly exhaust the amount of these CREB activators.  Sufficient time must be provided so these CREB activators can be replenished.  The likely purpose of the CREB suppressor gene is to serve as a filter cleaning out useless information.

Should you not believe that research done on fruit flies is relevant for you, there are other reasons not to cram.  There is plenty of evidence that spaced learning is better than massed learning.  One of the reasons for this is that the context changes each time  you study., which enhances recall.  As other posts have indicated, studying alone is insufficient, effective learning requires the recall of the relevant material.

Of course, these two explanations are not mutually exclusive.  It is likely that both are operative.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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