Exam prep, potato chips, and the question of taking breaks

IMG_0864This post is coming from India! My book Test Success! was published here and I am working with the publisher on how to get the book into the hands of students who might not have access to it.  While here I came across an interesting article in in The Hindu, one of the national newspapers. The article cited an international study about the habits of students preparing for the GRE. That is a high stakes exam here in India  as well as in the US., and around the world. The study sited, amongst other things, that Indian students’ favorite snack while studying is potato chips.  The subject of eating and studying tweaked my curiousity because I have long been an advocate of taking measured breaks while studying, but I recommend taking short breaks (5 minutes) and longer ones (30) minutes as part of disciplined study schedule. In brief (I’ll follow up in another post): optimal time for one study “burst” is about 30-40 minutes. Then take a 5 minute break (stretch, bathroom, glass of water), and do two more rounds of 30-40 minute study “bursts” with a short break in between. After you’ve done three rounds with the short break you can take a longer one (up to 30 minutes). At that point you can have your snack (as well as go online, text a friend, etc.– all activities not recommended for short breaks). I’ll elaborate on this in my next post– but just to let you know that eating while studying is not recommended. Why? Do one thing at a time: when you study, study. When you have a potato chip, savor it. Eating while you study is a little taxing on the brain and will lead to more distraction.

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