How Long Should I Be Studying?

How you study is more important

Studying using sticky notes

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How long should you study for a test? The answer to this question is different for everyone, because it's not just a matter of how long you study— it's also how effectively you study.

If you study ineffectively, you might find yourself studying for hours without making real progress, which leads to frustration and burnout. Effective studying, on the other hand, can just as easily come in the form of short, focused bursts or in lengthy group study sessions.

Study Session Timing

Most good study sessions are at least one hour long. A one-hour block gives you enough time to dive deep into the material, but it isn't so long that your mind wanders. However, one 60-minute session often is not enough time to cover an entire chapter or semester's worth of material, so you'll need to schedule more than one session.

Take time off between one-hour or two-hour sessions. This is how your brain works best— short but frequent bursts of attention, separated by frequent breaks. If you find yourself reading long chapters without stopping and then remembering absolutely nothing when you put the book away, consider adopting this one-hour strategy.

Ultimately, the key to determining how long you need to study is rooted in your unique brain type. When you figure out why your brain works the way it does, you can schedule your study sessions more effectively.

Students Who Are Global Thinkers

Some students are global thinkers, which means their brains work hard behind the scenes as they read. As they read, learners may initially feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they're taking in, but then—almost like magic—discover that things start to make sense afterward. If you are a global thinker, you should try to read in segments, taking occasional breaks to relax. Your brain needs time for information to sink in and sort itself out.

If you are a global thinker, try not to panic if you don't understand something right away. Don't stress yourself out! You'll remember much more if you read calmly, then let your brain work its magic after you've put the book away.

Students Who Are Analytic Thinkers

Some students are analytic thinkers, which means that they love to get to the bottom of things. These thinkers often can't proceed if they stumble upon information that doesn't make sense right away.

If you're an analytic thinker, you might find yourself getting hung up on details, which keeps you from getting through your reading in a reasonable amount of time. Instead of re-reading sections over and over again, put a sticky-note or a pencil mark on every page or section where you get stuck. Then, move on to the next section—you can go back and look up words or concepts the second time around.