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What are the Drawbacks of Procrastination and Cramming in STEM Classes?

By Clare Schinzel

Cramming marathon flashcards, Youtube video lessons, and everything in between during the morning hours before a test is a rite of passage for every student. Whether it's for a dreaded chemistry final or a history presentation, students across the world are squeezing what should be weeks of preparation into hours designated for sleeping. Cramming is an epidemic across the globe, yet it could be stopped by stomping out the main “cause:” procrastination.

While it is common practice, procrastination and cramming don’t form an ideal study strategy. Students who procrastinate generally receive lower test scores than students who started preparing earlier. This is due to the reality that cramming demonstrates a lack of retention. Generally, people need to be exposed to a concept multiple times before they start to absorb it. Cramming initiates a time crunch that makes it impossible for a student to get enough exposure to all of the topics they need to know. Studying over time creates a foundation of knowledge to build upon, and cramming doesn’t give that foundation a moment to set.

The side effects of cramming aren’t simply reflected in test scores, either. Cramming can cause unnecessary stress. If a student does put pressure on themselves to do well, the reality of procrastination’s poor results can make the student feel overwhelmed, and that stress can follow them beyond the classroom. Additionally, putting off their physical health in order to have the time to cram for a test can make them physically ill as well.

Students in STEM classes are especially discouraged to procrastinate. Math and science generally aren’t classes where students can rely on just regurgitating facts. It requires analytical skills and recognition of patterns––things that can’t be retained by just looking at one problem. Cramming won't allow specific exposure to the skill, which hinders retention. Thus, it is essential that students allow skills to set in over time rather than burning the midnight oil for a quick review session.

Cramming also presents a person as less reliable or disciplined. An employee saying they will do something and failing to do it in a timely manner makes an employer loose trust in them, which can result in fewer opportunities for promotion and for advancement in a field. Teacher recommendations are also vital for graduate school, and if a teacher is familiar with a student’s faulty study habits, it could come across that they don’t care about the subject, and that wouldn’t make for a glowing recommendation letter.

Because cramming isn’t ideal, there are other time-efficient methods for students to utilize for good grades. Spaced practice is one such way. Instead of doing one long cramming session, students should distribute studying to shorter periods every other day. Because there is space, it allows information to set in. The brain can sleep on information in shifts, giving it the front and center from a day before moving on to the next set of facts. Additionally, because the stress of learning an enormous amount of information in a short amount of time can take up space in the brain, being free from that weight leaves even more room for information to set in, and an overall better retention and test scores.

In the end, while cramming is a popular study method, reality proves that it isn’t effective. If a student wants to achieve high test scores and a good reputation, spaced repetition and preparation over time will no doubt help them achieve their goals. It allows information to truly set in and displays to teachers and employers that a student is dedicated and studious, which, in the long run, will foster success in STEM classes, careers, and overall life.

Works Cited

Maghar, Maria. “Disadvantages of Cramming for Tests.” Education - Seattle PI,

O´Donovan, Kirstin. “8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life.”

Lifehack, Lifehack, 19 Apr. 2021,


“Procrastination and Cramming.” Houghton College,



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