Take A Break for Better Test Scores

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: September 18, 2015

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All that cramming and those late-night study sessions aren’t necessarily helping you earn higher grades. There is such as thing as studying too much. Balance is important, and sometimes you just need to take a break.

Don’t just settle for a relaxing Netflix binge every now and then. Remember: taking a break doesn’t mean disassociating or indulging in TV or social media. If you want to know how to get better test scores, it pays to get out of your dorm and go do something that’s fun, mentally stimulating, and proven to help you score better on a test.

You may be asking yourself “how often should I take study breaks?” That’s important – but what you do and how you do it are equally crucial factors.

There are many possible tips for better test scores, but here are some of our top ways to get in shape for the exam season, crush that lab report, or ace that assignment.

4 Great Tips for Better Test Scores

1) Exercise Before Exam

A study from the University of Illinois that was focused on how to get better test scores found that 20 minutes of exercise, like walking, running, or even cycling, can help to boost your test scores. Researchers from the study found that people who partake in physical activity before an exam do much better than their peers who do not exercise.

Although it’s smart to review your note cards before a big test, you may want to take a break, and get some exercise instead. It’s proven to help increase your memory. Researchers from the University of California found that people who are physically active have better memories than people who don’t work out. Maybe, regular exercise can help you recall important terms and information that’ll be on your next test. 

2) De-Stress With Music

If you’re stressing about a big exam, take a break and listen to music. Even better, go see a play or a Broadway show. Research from the University of South Alabama’s psychology department shows that listening to music can not only keep anxiety and depression at bay, but music can also increase your optimism levels and creativity. Additionally, listening to music while you’re studying can help to boost your test scores, as well.

Plus, music is simply enjoyable. Listening to some tunes is a nice way to relax and unwind after a busy day in the library or after staring at a screen all day. If you’re thinking about how to get better test scores, consider boosting your mood with music that makes you happy.  

3) Get Plenty of Rest

A study from Belgium involving 621 first-year college students found that the students who got a good night’s rest performed better on tests. The grades of the students who slept seven hours per night were up to 10% higher than their peers who didn’t get a good night’s rest.

Additional research also supports that sleep can boost thinking ability. Medical experts agree that adults should get seven to eight hours each night. Not only is a full night’s rest beneficial to your grades, but naps can also be helpful. Dr. Matthew Walker from the University of California says napping, even for just one hour, can reset your short-term memory, making learning facts easier.

Additionally, one-hour naps can increase your alertness for up to 10 full hours. That gives you more time to study and actually retain the information.

4) Go Outside

 According to research from Harvard Health, Americans spend 90% of their lives indoors. All that time spent indoors can bog you down.

Spending time outside has been linked to better mental health in addition to a handful of other benefits, including concentration levels. If you have trouble concentrating, spending quality time with nature may help.

Consider taking a hike on the weekend with a friend or joining a hiking club at your university. Use an app like AllTrails to find local trails near your school. It’s easy and free to download onto your smartphone.

You could also think about riding your bike instead of driving when commuting to campus. Just be sure to use a bike lock, or bring your bike into the lecture if your professor allows it.

How Often Should I Take Study Breaks?

How often should I take study breaks? Well, the correct answer depends entirely on your schedule, preferences, and personality. As a general rule, though, trying to cram in as much study time as possible isn’t great advice for getting better test results.

An ideal scenario involves a workday that spreads meaningful and restorative breaks throughout the day. If you think you’ve finally cracked a difficult theory or concept, take a break and do something that helps your brain to relax, like listening to music or taking a walk in the fresh air.

Doing this a few times per day will help your brain feel refreshed and lighten a load of all that studying and cramming. Plus, it will help you feel better.

It’s worth considering that you are a human being. You’re not a robot. Your brain actually gets fatigued after sustained use and needs rest to help it recover. Try to give yourself days within the week that are devoted entirely to yourself. Exercise, go see a movie, or just enjoy nature.

In fact, it's widely acknowledged now that taking breaks at work is more beneficial. If it can help everyone from office workers to chiropractors and bartenders, then it can also help you as you study.

Want to Learn More About How to Get Better Test Scores?

As you can see, there are many tips for better test scores that involve taking well-deserved study breaks. Studying doesn’t have to be as back-breaking as some like to make out. 

Interspersing your work days with well-thought-out breaks can be a game changer, both for you and your test scores. There is a wide range of research showing that well-meaning, regular breaks help to boost retention and can contribute to better mental health than cramming information night and day.

Studying can be a minefield of schedules, preparation, and practice, too. For further study tips, test prep, and access to helpful resources check out Score At The Top.

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Topics: Test-Prep

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