How to study when you need a study break

study skills
By Tara Z.

There is a viral video of a little boy pretending to scoop the information from a book in front of him and place it in his head. Believe me, there were many instances where I wished this feat was possible. However, after taking the countless tests in school and standardized tests for the past 17 + years, I've realized that studying doesn’t always mean sitting at a desk or overusing your eyes in front of a computer or textbook. This became very clear to me specifically when I tackled the DAT: after hours upon hours at a computer, my eyes started drooping and I would realize that I was reading the same sentence repeatedly without retaining any information. If this is happening to you, STOP STUDYING: your brain is telling you that it cannot handle any more information. Instead of reading more information, the best thing to do is consolidate what you have learned. Your brain is filled to the max!

Sometimes, you may feel like you can’t stop studying - don’t fret! Here are some tips for making progress while giving your brain a break:

1. Review concepts while doing something you like.

I found that studying in my head while doing something mindless that I liked was very refreshing. I would take walks or paint while reviewing what I learned that day in my brain. This way I would be consolidating things I have already learned without getting burnt out. 

2. Keep tricky concepts in your head and review them throughout the day.

There are always tricky topics or concepts that you can’t seem to remember. I find that throughout the day it is great to test yourself on that concept. See if you can remember it while driving, washing the dishes, showering, etc. 

3. Read!

Reading can easily help clear your mind while actually still exercising it. Feel free to read anything, but you can also read things related to the topic you are studying. This way you can stay in the ballpark for your studies without having to exhaust yourself studying! 

4. Find a study buddy.

Having a study partner can often help you see things in a different light. A study buddy can also just be there as you rant about this topic (it's nice to have someone there who understands your frustrations). 

5. Just take that break.

Sometimes...you do need to just stop studying. And there is nothing wrong with that. No one can study all day at 100% productivity. Take a small break and get back into it. You deserve it and you will benefit from it. Taking this break may surprise you, maybe the information does sort itself out in your brain. 

Tara graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a degree in Biology. She's presently a dental student at Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

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