How To Get The Most Out Of Your Study Break

Posted September 2, 2013, by Marni Williams

You ploughed your way through the trials and breathed a big sigh of relief – but now you’re realising that it’s only just begun. How will you possibly remember everything 6 weeks from now?

I hear you. But don’t worry, even if you flunked out, there is still time to get good results. Trials are weighted for a reason and if you use them to flush out weaknesses then you will set yourself on the right track.

It’s all about maximising the impact of the time you have. Like anything, study is a craft and it can be learnt by anyone – even those of you who are sick of reading this article by now.*

Follow these six steps and you will be surprised at how much more you can absorb.

1. Set a goal

Why are you doing this again? Work out what you’re working towards. Make it SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. With 6 weeks to go, you can’t afford to procrastinate. Tell your close family and friends what you’re working towards and make yourself accountable!

2. Prioritise

We might be able to do anything, but we can’t do everything.

Look long and hard at your exam papers; where do you need to improve? It’s easy to focus on the subjects you enjoy, but if you have been avoiding something, then put it to the top of your list and deal with it when you’re fresh.

3. Prepare

Get your tools in order: do your notes make sense? Are they matched to the syllabus? Do you have practice papers? Your favourite pen?

Know your tasks: mark your study time out in a calendar and delegate time to different subjects. And forget FOMO – you won’t even remember that party 10 years later, trust me.

Rest well, eat well: your brain needs fuel and will thank you if you give it sustained energy. Stick to proteins like nuts, the slower releasing sugars found in fruit, and keep your grey matter hydrated with plenty of water. At least 8 hours of regular sleep is not negotiable.

4. Focus

Sounds obvious, right? But how many times a day do you check your phone? Respond to Facebook notifications? Watch surprised kittens, grumpy kittens, or kittens playing piano?

Each time you get distracted it takes 7 minutes to get your focus back. That means around 25 per cent of your study time will be wasted if you check your phone every half hour! Turn it off or put it in another room. Switch your computer notifications off and tell your friends they can wait.

If you hit a brick wall and just aren’t getting it, move on! Or take a quick break and clear your head. Some of my best problem-solving has happened on my morning walks.

5. Reward yourself

You don’t need to be a monk to get good grades. It’s ok to go out and let off steam with your friends – you will need the support!

Your brain will focus better if it has a chance to switch off. Give yourself an hour of down-time before bed, and stay away from glowing screens after dark – they mess with your body clock.

6. Get help, give help

There’s not much point doing practice tests without feedback. Your teachers may be busy but they will be stoked that you’re putting in extra effort – so use them!

Nothing tests knowledge more than trying to teach others. You will benefit from talking things through with your study buddies and your ATAR will be bumped up if your class does well to boot.


Here’s the cheat sheet:

  1. Why are you doing this? Set a goal.
  2. Prioritise: worst subjects first.
  3. Prepare for study with good notes, sleep and fuel.
  4. No distractions! Ditch the phone and Internet.
  5. Have a break, reset your mind.
  6. Ask for help, but also give it – you’ll learn too.
Marni Williams

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