What is cramming?
Cramming is defined as an emergency test-preparation strategy. It usually aims at absorbing a huge amount of information in a very short period of time. It can take many forms, like studying last minute, staying up late the night before taking a test, trying to review as much materials as possible, etc. Cramming is widely used worldwide and has been practised through generations.
Good study habits are an important skill for every student to learn. Sometimes however reserving sufficient time to study is hard. In these situations, cramming might seem like the perfect solution. Memorising a topic and recalling it, sounds like an efficient and effective way to ace a test. However, cramming has been proven to be a major stress factor for students. This automatically leads to concentration issues, which is not ‘ideal’ when taking a test.
Why does it not work for the TOEIC® test?
Cramming has proven to be effective for some topics. However, language studies are not one of them. Research has found that many students cannot recall much information after a cram session. Practicing to recount study material without deeper understanding will only undermine the learning process.
The nature of the TOEIC® tests design, the evidence-centred design (ECD), results in the development of tasks that reflect real-world skills. Cramming for these tasks will not be an effective test preparation. In addition, a research led by Paula Winke and Hyojung Lim on the Effects of Test Preparation on Second-Language Listening Test Performance states that “test preparation’s best function appears to be familiarisation with test format and the test’s item types, especially item types that are relatively new or unknown to the test-takers”. These findings emphasize the importance of structured practice for an assessment like the TOEIC® test. Getting to know the test, the area of improvement and the real-life situations reflected in the test are the key to a good test preparation.
For the TOEIC® test, the best way to prepare is to plan your test session well in advance to be able to split shorter studying periods over a longer period of time. This will help you remember what you’ve learnt and gain essential language skills. Using official preparation tools, to prepare for a TOEIC® test avoids wasting time on an all-night cramming session!