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Monday, May 19, 2014

How To Know When To Stop Studying

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I've given some pretty bold study advice but one piece of advice that confuses most people is this: You should not study when you're completely prepared for a test. Even if you have the time.

There is a time when every student should be absolutely done with studying before a test. In fact, there are plenty of times when stopping studying does way more good than continuing to study. While most study advice focuses on “STUDY MORE!” I tend to believe in an appropriate balance. The human brain is not naturally designed to memorize large sets of information without some survival necessity. The less necessary the studying is, the less effective your going to study it anyway.

When To Stop Studying Before A Test

If you have a good study habit then you probably don't need to study the night before you take a test, in fact, there are plenty of advantages to not actually studying before you take the test. If you've studied all the pieces of information that you planned on studying then studying for it one more night won't help too much.

The brain gets bored when it starts getting used to the same information. The first time you memorize something it's a novelty that your brain is more inclined to let stick. If you're going over it the sixth or seventh time then the brain is a whole lot less interested in making it stick. That leads most students to a nasty case of horrible distraction.

That distraction is terrible for the study habit but it can also lead to poor recall during every study session in the future. When you struggle through the final study session before a test (because you're not focused,) you're also setting yourself up to struggle through the test. In fact, you might even start to have to worry about the test. That can ruin your sleep that night. That can ruin your final score on the test.

I've found, one of the best ways to eliminate worry about a test is to not study the night before it. Instead, I accept that I'm as prepared as I ever will be. A bad study session before the test is a whole lot worse than no study session. Sleep is generally easy when you have the required confidence. When it comes to test time, your brain will have spent 24+ hours thinking about how confident you are. Stress won't be an issue.

One of the best things about cutting out studying the night before the test is the habits that it helps develop. When you avoid studying the night before a test you train yourself to never cram. Cramming absolutely kills most students ability to study. (See my other articles for a long explanation.)

If you haven't studied everything required then it may be better to study the night before a test but in the future, try to be at least one day ahead.

When To Give Up Studying For A Night

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There are times when you should stop studying during a regular study session. Many times people think it's important to study no matter what. While I recommend a habit of starting to study, I certainly don't think it's necessary to end studying at the same time habitually. Some days, it's better to stop studying early than to ruin your good study habits by studying longer.

The first and most important time to stop studying is when you've mastered the information you intended to master. Before any study session, you should have a goal to understand a certain set of information. When you have memorized that information, and have proven it a few times, you don't need to spend more time studying. It can be helpful to reward yourself and stop studying then. When you study faster than expected, you can make some really amazing things happen.

Another time to stop studying is when you can't study effectively mentally. If you've spent 10 minutes trying to stop thinking about something other than studying during your study time, you may be too distracted to effectively study. If you're usually really good about studying then don't feel bad to stop studying when you're that distracted. It shouldn't be a habit but there are times when there are more important things to think about.

The last time I recommend stopping your studying is when you're physically incapable. If, after ten minutes of studying, you're physically exhausted to the point that you can't focus on anything, you should stop studying. This is usually because of sleep deprivation. Learn your lesson and fix whatever happens to be causing your struggle. That being said, don't give up studying to do something fun. Spend the time you should be studying laying down or resting.

With all these opportunities to stop studying, you might consider not studying at all if you're expecting to hit one of these problems. I recommend never not starting. Be in the habit of starting to study whether you're capable of finishing or not. Many times, when you think you won't be able to study, you wind up having a great study session. It's worth starting the session to find out.

Summer Study Stop

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Students hate me for this but let me make my case.

Nearly 30% of the information you learn during the school year gets forgotten during the summer.

If you study through the whole summer, you can be 30% ahead of your peers when school time comes. That can make the following year easier than ever. You should be taking advantage of that. You should not stop studying at the end of the school year. You should continue your habit so you're still working at peak when the next school year starts.

That being said, you don't have to study a bunch of information you hate. While it's good to review some of the subjects for school, you can focus most of your studying on subjects that you enjoy. Think about the things that you want to do with your life and study those subjects. If you want to travel the world then study Mandarin or Spanish or another language. If you want to become an artist then study art. Just keep that habit going.

The habit is the most important part. Once you're good at studying at a certain time, you don't wont to risk losing it. It can take a very long time to get it back.

Use this article as a guide to know when it's time to stop studying and when you shouldn't stop studying. Studying more is not always the best solution. Your brain is not magic. It can suffer from fatigue that drowns your ability to learn. Unless you're using some nootropic drugs then you can't get away with the forced information shove. You need to learn the effective means to deliver the information naturally.

Do you want to know the secrets to mastering school without spending your whole life on it? Follow this blog and our Twitter to keep up. Also, be sure to check some of our older articles.

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