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You may hear the word "cramming" get thrown around a lot before tests, midterms, and during Week 9 at Dartmouth in general. Students flipping through text books, looking over sticky notes, and highlighting "important" portions of text as fast as they can. But as you may already know, "cramming" isn't the best for learning. 1

Research says spacing out sub-topics you're learning is far more effective than learning the whole topic at once, and using flashcards, specifically, helps the learning process. 2

Highlighting your notes or readings does not get as much of a great rating. "Going over" class materials is not as effective as "getting into" them, finds Maryellen Weimer, PhD, an expert in the field of effective study strategies. She points out that going over highlighted notes, in particular, is not conducive to prioritizing material in the way that you may need it. 3

Efficient highlighting depicted by a couple of sentences highlighted, versus inefficient highlighting, which is basically the whole page.

"Active Recall" is one of the most efficient study strategies 4 It involves asking yourself questions and then answering them which, in effect, reinforces your understanding  of the material. Weimer points out that although this is more time consuming than "going over" notes and readings, research maintains this is a more effective way to learn. So the next time you think about cramming, maybe try this instead:

  1. Ask yourself a question or a problem
  2. Give yourself time to come up with an answer
  3. Answer it, or don't, in which case you should re-visit the material
  4. Repeat

You can use Active Recall as often as you want. Right after you've learned a topic to days or weeks later. The best part is you don't necessarily have to be at your desk or in front of your books to do it! The next time you're walking around campus, or waiting in line at KAF, think of a question or problem and try to answer it for yourself. And as always, remember to take breaks, sleep, hydrate, and stay nourished, so your brain is well taken care of for learning.


  1. Andrew J Fuligni, UCLA
  2. Nate Kornell, Applied Cognitive Psychology
  3. Maryellen Weimer, Rethinking Reading
  4. Jeffrey D. Karpicke, Science

Dartmouth campus during spring term
Dartmouth campus during spring term

Welcome back to Dartmouth! As you might have noticed, there was a large pile of snow on the Green waiting here to greet you. But that’s okay, in the next couple of weeks, the spring will bring warmer weather, more sunshine, and awesome memories. ...continue reading "Spring Term Has Arrived!"

At the end of every term, the Tutor Clearinghouse sends out a feedback form to all tutees, asking for feedback on their academic mentors. In 17F, Kensington Cochran '20, PSYC 6 tutor and study group leader, and Henry Burns '19, MATH 8 and MATH 13 tutor, received overwhelmingly positive feedback from their tutees. We wanted to share what their tutees had to say about them, as well as their thoughts on what makes their relationship with their tutees so positive and successful.

Photo of Henry Burns '19
Henry Burns, Peer Tutor, Tutor Clearinghouse










What Henry's says about tutoring:

"Tutoring is without a doubt the best job I've ever had. I love getting to work directly with other students to help them with subjects I'm passionate about. The students I tutor are incredibly hardworking, and it's always great to see the progress they make throughout the term. Also, I often find that I understand a subject better myself when I teach it to others."

What Henry's tutees had to say about him: 

"He worked with me every step of a problem and never once made me feel as though I wasn't capable of figuring it out." 

"He would always take time to slow things down for me and offer helpful tips and tricks."

Thanks, Henry!

Photo of Kensington Cochran
Kensington Cochran, Peer Tutor and Study Group Leader, Tutor Clearinghouse










What Kensington says about tutoring:

"I think the reason tutoring through the Tutor Clearinghouse is so successful is that every tutee really wants to learn the material, and that creates a positive, enjoyable, and productive learning environment."

What Kensington's tutees say about her:

"She was literally amazing, super flexible with meeting me and went above and beyond with providing resources."

"She's so great at explaining concepts and visual conceptualizations."

Thanks, Kensington!

Henry and Kensington continue to be a great help to the Tutor Clearinghouse as academic mentors. We are so lucky to have them!

For questions, please email

You can read more about tutoring, tutor applications and requests, as well as other services on our website:

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