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The Importance of Breaks When Studying

By: Elias Azizi, Contributing Writer

At school, whenever we hear the words ‘test’ or ‘exam,’ the first thing that comes to mind is study preparation. For most courses, studying is incredibly essential to be successful and finish with top marks. For some, studying before tests involves cramming information into their heads. For others, studying is just a brief review of concepts that one has already understood. Either way, one must always take breaks when studying. A 4 hour straight study period may sound extremely productive, but it actually it’s rather harmful and unproductive. Unproductive study periods can lead to poor results on assessments, which can harm one’s future academic endeavors. Therefore, it is crucial to understand why studying for too long can be harmful, and why it is essential to take breaks.

Why you should not study for very long periods:

Sometimes, studying for several hours may be necessary; specific exams may require more preparation than others. However, one must understand that it is okay to study for an extended period time if breaks are frequently taken. If one were to work for multiple hours non-stop, they would definitely not be focused. This has been proven in countless studies, where numerous groups of people worked for different periods of time. In almost all these studies, the group that took frequent breaks was more concentrated, and was able to study more productively. Productivity can be the difference between a passing grade and a failing one.

Although breaks should be taken often, they shouldn’t be taken excessively. If one were to take too many breaks, they would never become fully concentrated on their work. They would start some work, start getting a bit concentrated, and then become distracted during their breaks. The takeaway is that breaks need to be taken once your brain and body feel and require one. There is absolutely no point in taking a break if you don’t need one.

Some people can work longer than others without breaks. It is important to understand who you are as a learner to be able to study effectively. You will likely experiment when you’re studying to learn more about yourself and your needs.

How to plan your study session:

Now that you know about the importance of taking breaks, you now will learn how to effectively plan a study session.

In order to save as much time as possible, make sure to pre-plan your study sessions the day before. This definitely won’t take too long (maybe an hour or so) and will benefit you greatly. By pre-planning and organizing your study session, you likely won’t procrastinate the next day, and therefore, you won’t waste a lot of time instead of studying.

In your plan, try and plan breaks every hour or so. Each break shouldn’t be extremely long or short; 15 minutes or so will do. A break that is too short will have no value, as your body won’t have much time to relax. A break that is too long on the other hand will cause you to feel too relaxed, to the point where your mindset has shifted from study mode to relaxation mode.

During your break, you should drink some water or get something to eat that is nutritious: something that will energize you. Yes, you can also use your phone, but avoid applications like Youtube or Netflix:once you are on these apps, it tends to be hard to get off them. In general, social media should be avoided during your study breaks; remember that you need to study not socialize online. As I stated in one of my previous articles, you should also try to stand up and walk around a bit after prolonged periods of sitting when studying, to remain healthy.

Posted below is an example of a planned study session with breaks:

  • 1:00-1:45: First study period

  • 1:45-2:00: First study break (Get water, walk around the house)

  • 2:00-2:45: Second study period

  • 2:45-3:00: Second break (Get a snack, go outside for a few minutes to appreciate the nature)

  • 3:00-3:45: Final study period of the day

Concluding Thoughts:

Students all over the world have to study for tests or to review content. It is important for every student to understand that studying quantity (time) is not quality. A person who studies for 2 hours with breaks is likely more productive than a student who studies for 6 hours without breaks. Pushing your brain and body to their limits will make it hard for you to remain concentrated when studying, and a lack of concentration can lead to a lack of productivity and overall efficiency. You must understand that to effectively study, you have to pre-plan your study session, and include frequent breaks to ensure that you don’t overwork yourself. This simple plan can be made in less than an hour, and will definitely help you review and learn topics from school. To all the students around the world, study hard and study efficiently, by taking a couple of breaks every hour or so.

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Samira Al-Maqaleh
Samira Al-Maqaleh
Jun 18, 2021

I usually have a hard time concentrating so taking breaks is extremely important to me.


Hilary Hong
Hilary Hong
Jan 26, 2021

Yes! Being productive is important and it can certainly impact our mental health!


Nov 25, 2020

This is such useful information! So many students like myself find ourselves cramming the night before a big test or exam and the results are just not worth the sleep deprivation. This is why I agree 100% with the idea of working smart, not hard. Productivity is key!

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