We've all done it–crammed for a test. You've likely pulled a caffeine-infused all-nighter (or two) in college. But don't you remember struggling to recall that information a short while afterward?
If taking the NCIDQ Exam is on your horizon in the new year, cramming for it isn't likely to yield positive results. Besides a possible failure on the exam, you'll have wasted money and perhaps hurt your pride.
Plus, this isn’t a biology course you're fulfilling to graduate (no offense, biology!). Instead, interior design is your chosen career field, and you need to know your stuff. So why not make a study plan part of your schedule?
Here’s a few reasons why cramming isn't “jamming”:
1. Being able to recognize something isn't the same as being able to recall it.
“You'll only remember twenty percent of quickly learned material after a thirty-day period,” says author Thomas H. Mentos in his book, The Human Mind.
You're losing about eighty percent of what you thought you learned — because of cramming. Why? Because cramming stores information in short-term memory but doesn’t create a long-lasting connection.
Short-term memory is where we process everything in our brain and put it into temporary storage. It's where all the non-important stuff goes, like what you ate for breakfast two days ago and what you wore on Monday.
Your brain gets overloaded with thousands of pieces of data. Then, after a while, anything not shifted to long-term memory gets ‘dumped.’ So, the building codes you may have been memorizing in a crunch also get cast out with last weekend’s movie timings. See why cramming gets a failing grade?
Just because your short-term memory is active during a five-hour study stint doesn't mean the rest of your brain will be able to reconstruct anything when you need it to.
2. Your brain plays tricks on you
After several hours of looking at study material, your mind will trick you into thinking you've learned it. Every image, fact, and page begin to have a reassuring familiarity about it. As a result, you feel good about your prep time but under false pretenses.
A recent BBC article about test-taking shares that cramming leaves “a lingering glow in our sensory and memory systems.” This glow allows our brain to tag the information as “something I’ve seen before.”
Being able to recognize something isn't the same as being able to recall it.
3. Bad habits die hard
Many people rely on cramming, despite knowing it’s an inferior approach because it worked for them in the past. Old habits die hard.
Cramming repetitive information, like vocabulary or building codes, can often work because it relies on rote memorization.
But more complex information that requires analysis (like the NCIDQ multiple-choice exams) requires an entirely different approach.
4. Cramming is unhealthy
Staying up late in the days and weeks leading up to the NCIDQ exam to cram is going to leave you tired on and before exam day.
A UCLA study has shown that forfeiting sleep for extra study time is counterproductive. If you sacrifice sleep time to study more than usual, your performance on test day will suffer.
Besides fatigue, your mind and body will be more stressed out too, which will affect your immune system. No one wants to take the NCIDQ exam while suffering from a cold you could have avoided in the first place!
Here’s why study plans work:
1. Study plans are organized
Study plans corral all the material you need to cover and break it into smaller chunks within a defined timeframe. A structured study plan offers direction that requires little further thinking or planning. As a result, there’s no confusion about what to tackle next or how long to spend on it.
Most importantly, study plans help you learn the material. But, again, we're talking about knowledge stored in your long-term memory that you’ll be able to draw upon in the future.
The Qpractice Study Plan and Courses are a comprehensive program that covers all the NCIDQ Content Areas. You'll have 24/7 access to step-by-step how-to videos, online quizzes, practice tests, and an easy-to-follow study schedule.
You have access to Live Office Hours, email support, and recordings for questions and trouble spots. In addition, you can share tips in the study circle for your course with a community of designers like you. You won't have to study alone.
2. Sets milestones with you in the driver’s seat
Setting priorities and achieving goals is empowering. Once you get going, you’ll enjoy looking back and seeing all you accomplished.
Because a study plan reviews all the required material, you’ll also be able to assess your stronger and weaker areas. Then you will have a chance to revisit those more challenging topics.
3. Study plans keep you sane
Because a study plan tethers to a schedule, work doesn’t accumulate. Hence, staying up until the wee hours isn’t necessary.
You’ll find you have some free time to enjoy life without the lingering burden that you should be studying.