How to study science: How long should you study?

Want to really know how to study science? Lauren was studying physics while she prepared herself for the AP Biology exam. She was also learning how to play guitar and she practiced a martial art.

When she got home from school most days, she had about 2 hours to study before going to work. For a while she spend half an hour on physics, half an hour on biology, and 30 minutes each dedicated to guitar and her martial art.

The results? She progressed very slowly in each area.

How to study science: There's a better way.

Research shows that when you shift your attention, it takes 20 minutes to refresh your concentration. if you study science for just 30 minutes, you'll only have 10 good minutes where you're really learning at  your peak ability.

On the other hand, if you study science too long, your brain will get tired. If you've ever stayed up half the night to cram for a test, you know how this is.

You reach a point where the pages in your book are a blur. You stare at the same paragraph and it doesn't make sense.

So how long should you study? If you're learning how to study science, balance is the key.

Study in big blocks of time, but not too big

The research shows that most people have about 90 "good" minutes. Then you need to take a break, grab a snack, text your friends, and start over with something new.

Ideally, plan your study schedule so you stay with one topic for up to and hour and a half. If you find you can't study science every day, that's ok.

You learn faster than you forget. If you have enough good learning on one day, you'll remember most of it a few days later. It would be best to study a subject for 90 minutes every day. Even better if you could spend 90 minutes in the morning and another 90 miutes in the evening.

But if you have a full schedule or you're studying many subjects simultaneously, you can maximize the value of your time by breaking it into chunks of about 90 minutes.

Note: This won't work out to exactly 90 minutes. Everyone is different. Experiment with different amounts of time, and see what works for you.

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2 thoughts on “How to study science: How long should you study?

  1. Thank you! It makes a difference when I study for 1 hour every 2days. Before I studied 30 minutes every day. My cousin says at college you have your classes on Mon, Wed, Friday or Tues/Thurs so you can study science for longer and have a bigger break for your brain. Do you think its better to practice martial arts every day even if its too short?

    • Glad this was helpful, Jaeger. BTW, for martial arts or anything that involves muscle memory (like playing an instrument) you probably should do it every day. But if your practice time is short, just focus on one thing–a specific punch or kick, free throws, plying musical scales, etc.

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