For those of us at the Universities at Shady Grove, A doesn’t stand for Apple or Aardvark but instead Academic, Assessment, and Achievement. For students in particular, A takes on a more symbolic meaning—the letter grade that has represented our best work on report cards from first grade to Introduction to Financial Accounting.
My name is Adam Binkley, and I am the Senior Coordinator at the Center for Academic Success. This time of the year, many students come to our offices wondering how they can do better on their final exams and are seeking strategies for how to chase down that elusive A.
Luckily, I have something to share with you that just might improve your performance in your coursework. This is a method that students often overlook, but has always helped humans reach their peak, leading to countless inventions and innovations. And the good news is that you (yes you, reading this right now) don’t have to learn anything—you have already been doing this your entire life!
I’m talking about sleep. Get that A from catching ZZZZZZs. Stop pulling all-nighters cramming and cram yourself into a nice warm bed or pile of pillows. When we feel the pressure of deadlines and upcoming papers and tests, sleep is often one of the first things we sacrifice. But sleep allows our brain to recover from all the academic work we’re putting it through. ZZZZs can actually be a critical boost during exam week.
This is according to new research out of Baylor University that challenged students to get an average of 8 hours of sleep per night. Offering students extra credit as an incentive, the researchers wanted to see how students fared when they reached the recommended time spent in dreamland compared to their more sleep deprived peers. And their findings indicated that students who met the challenge performed better on their final exams than those who didn’t.
Don’t just take my word for it—check out the research yourself (just don’t stay up late reading it!).
Thinking back to my own experience as an undergraduate and professional procrastinator, these claims definitely ring true. I had far too many all-nighters and late night study sessions that directly contributed to me feeling bad on exam day. Operating with too little sleep and too much caffeine, my brain felt like a self-driving car without a functioning navigation system. So the next time you are setting out to plan your study time, try to spread it out over the week in order to save time for shut eye.
Let A stand for Asleep, so that you are Awake and Alert come exam time!