My failed experience with an all-nighter

Photo by Brenda Lin

I am not afraid to admit to having stayed awake all night to study for an exam the following day. Some of those occasions were not far in the past. However, these attempts at salvaging my titanic-like situation have seldom ended in a savory fashion.

For this reason, I must discourage any effort to prolong waking hours for the purpose of raising one’s grade on a test.

Let me drop some hypotheticals on you real quick. Imagine a guy named Eric. He usually has his life together, but for some reason this past week didn’t quite turn out so well. Now it is Sunday, and Eric is feeling desperate. An all-nighter seems inevitable, but would it actually help? The answer is scientifically proven to be a resounding no.

“But wait,” you ask, dumbfounded. “How else could I possibly do better on an exam that I don’t know the material for?”

While it might seem logical during the evening prior, come morning you will feel the deepest regret, which is known only to those who have acted upon the poorest of instincts. Your eyes will ache and your bones may break (but probably not). Those are only a few of the innumerable grievances you will unequivocally desire to lend voice to.

“I do not particularly want to be in unimaginable agony during my midterm,” says your conscience. “So what should I do instead?”

Well, if you do fancy (or desperately need) a decent grade on the exam but also do not have aspirations of misery, I would genuinely suggest inventing or locating and buying a machine capable of time travel. What, did you really expect me to have a magical solution which I would reveal only to readers so steadfast that they have made it this far into this rambling editorial? Unfortunately for any individuals reading this who find themselves in a position in need of a quick fix, one doesn’t exist.

This is not to say you are completely done for; there are indeed some avenues which will undoubtedly factor more positively into your personal well-being as well as that of your GPA. If you ever find yourself seriously considering staying awake through the night for the sole reason of learning a significant portion of upcoming exam material, do yourself a favor and go to sleep instead.

A number of studies, including one done by Dr. Philip Alapat at the Baylor College of Medicine, have conclusively found sleeping before an examination to produce consistently better results than those achieved through all-nighters.

Why should you trust this random study? Well, if you came into this article looking for validation of the opposite viewpoint than the one I just made, then I confess you have no reason to believe any of what I am wrote. On the other hand, one could simply choose to accept a credible scientific study for nothing less than what it is, and re-evaluate their test-taking strategy accordingly.