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Cramming is a form of massive learning in a hurry (e.g. on the last night before an exam). Cramming leads to memories of poor coherence. Low coherence implies you can pass the test and still know little.

Cramming can help you pass exams, but it is also extremely harmful. It can literally hurt your brain or your health. It can affect your love of learning. It produces short-term memories that will quickly get forgotten via interference. However, if used repeatedly on the same learning material, cramming can lead to toxic memory. Cramming is useful only if you need a great deal of knowledge fast, now, and for a while. You should never cram in the night.

In the context of SuperMemo, cramming is any massive review with intervals shorter than optimum intervals. It has been shown that cramming can actually weaken memories, or result in accelerated forgetting via interference.

In contrast, subset review with a purpose of restoring a disintegrating structure of knowledge may be beneficial. Subset review before an exam may be unavoidable. Cramming before an exam can help you pass the exam, but it can also weaken long-term memories.

See also:

This glossary entry is used to explain "I would never send my kids to school" (2017-2024) by Piotr Wozniak