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How to Take a Study Break

Vivan Vatena

@ student in journalism | | Education

If you are anything like me, when studying for exams, you need to take breaks. However in recent years, due to the increasing use and prevalence of the internet, on demand media, and with my cell phone by my side, taking a “study break” has come to mean checking Facebook, Twitter, celebrity blogs, Google Chat, and every other distracting website and app you can imagine.

Thus, a study break morphs from a reprieve into an unplanned detour into internet-land that takes up just as much time (if not more) than the actual studying. A five-minute break becomes half an hour, and pretty soon, instead of going to sleep at midnight as planned, you get to sleep at 4 AM instead. Some study break that was.

Don’t be like me. Here are some tips from Brainscape HQ on how to have a good study break, get refreshed, and prepare yourself to dive back into your books.

How to Take a Study Break

“Study break” has turned into a euphemism for procrastinating and distractions. That being said, a well-planned out study break does not have to lead to procrastination. Let’s get back to what a study break really is and then cover a few tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of these breaks.

The point of a study break is to get the mind rejuvenated so that you can refocus on the task at hand when it’s time to get back to work. A good study break consists of an activity that allows you to take your mind off studying and not use it for a little while. This period of disuse can reinvigorate your brain so that you are ready to come back to your work and attack it with renewed energy!

So, in this season of GRE, MCAT, GMAT, SAT prep, here are some tips to help you make good use of your time (instead of procrastinating):

Make sure your actual study time is used efficiently:

Use Brainscape‘s “smart flashcards” on the web or your mobile device, to meter your study sessions appropriately and manage your learning progress using solid metrics & goals

Set a goal for what you want to accomplish in your currently allocated study session (whether it’s 15 or 45 minutes), and don’t quit until you reach that goal!

When taking a study break, DO:

Periodically schedule breaks for short amounts of time in between your studying.

STICK to your schedule. Not a minute more!

Remember to EAT. Not junk food on which you’ll snack the whole time you study. But a take 20 minutes to cook yourself a real meal and sit down and eat it. Food for thought, anyone?

Take time to exercise! Exercising not only works out your body—it will also stimulate your brain, making your study session far more effective.

Read a book or an interesting article in a magazine unrelated to your test material.

DO NOT:

Tell yourself that you will check your Facebook/e-mail for 15 minutes then take half an hour instead.

In fact, don’t check your email or Facebook at all while you’re studying!

Start a new TV show (especially the week before finals). TV provides an ENDLESS supply of material for procrastination. You will get sucked into a new series and then you will have to watch all 6 seasons, and before you know it will have been a week since you left your apartment, and your boss is calling you every hour wondering where you are. Enough said.

Do not take a nap for more than 20 minutes. Otherwise, you might find yourself spending more time dreaming about doing well on exams than actually doing well on exams.

A study break is all about making a schedule and sticking to it, though there is obviously wiggle room. However, remember that when you need to get something done, leave enough time for it as well as for the down time you may need. That is the best solution!