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Taking Breaks

Marathon study sessions lasting hours on end are usually conducted by students with the best of intentions. The problem is that marathon study sessions aren't very effective. This is because, after a while, your mind will begin to wander, and you won't be completely focused on the material in front of you. When this happens, study time simply isn't very productive. As a result, while you may think that breaks are a waste of time because they take you away from the books, you may actually be able to improve your academic performance by allowing your mind to take a periodic breather.

Advantages of Study Breaks

Taking regular breaks while you are studying can benefit you in several ways. First, studies have shown that students remember more of what they study at the beginning and end of a study session, and less of what they review in the middle. By making study sessions shorter (and therefore reducing the amount of information that was studied during the middle of a session), you can increase the amount of information that you will be able to recall. Studying for hours on end can also lead to feelings of fatigue, restlessness, and boredom, all of which can make concentrating difficult. A short break can help you feel more relaxed, refreshed, and focused when you return to the books.

How Often Should I Take a Break?

There are many different theories about how often students should take breaks. One common suggestion is to study for 50 minutes and break for 10, but the most important thing is to develop a schedule that works for you. When you feel like you're just reading your notes and aren't really absorbing anything, it's probably time to take five. Remember, though, there is a difference between needing a break and just not wanting to study. There is no need to take a break every few minutes.

What to do during Study Breaks

If you're planning a 10-minute study break, the number of things that you can do in this time is obviously limited. The most important thing when deciding what to do during a study break is to make sure that it's something that you'll be able to stop doing once it's time to return to your desk. Take a short walk, sit outside and have a cup of coffee, or read a few pages of a magazine. Leave your desk during this time; it's even a good idea to leave the room if possible.


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Last Updated: 08/20/2013