Down with the marathon study sessions


I don’t like marathon-length study sessions. Honestly, sitting in the library for eight hours straight doing nothing but cramming is probably one of the most efficient ways for me to develop a headache. Not only that, I found that by the time after a couple (or four, if I’m lucky) hours has passed, my brain started pleading to do anything but studying. Hence, often times, after a study marathon session, I would end up knowing more about new ipad than about organic chemistry. Not to mention the feeling of guilt that could literally grill my conscience  and haunt my dreams. Of course, there are always a few who could handle an (extremely) extended period of studying without faltering. Like athletes, they’ve trained their minds to focus well and have built up a substantial amount of (mental) energy reserve. Thus, an study marathon would probably work for them. However, for an average Joe off the street (like me) with relatively low mental stamina, study marathon session often turns out to be a dreaded affair on the same scale as nuclear bombs and Justin Bieber :).

Analysis over with, now it’s time to put forth a few proposals, right? Well, instead of long, drawn-out  sessions, maybe short, but intense periods of learning could work out better, like sprinting e.g study for an hour but with 10-minute breaks in between. As well, since I wouldn’t be studying for the whole day, I might as well set up the time after 8:00 pm as chillin’ time. In a way, that would be equivalent to burning my bridges to retreat. I force myself to raise efficiency because I don’t have the excuse to say “I’ll just finish it later tonight” anymore. It also force me to abandon very inefficient and time-consuming methods like re-reading my notes and force me to focus more on practice problems and applications. Even better, the free time at night could very well serve as an positive reinforcement as an reward for a hard day of working. Of course, along this train of this thought, it’s pretty crucial balance the time I set aside for working vs chilling, for instance, maybe after chillin’ after 9:00 pm are better those who work well in the night and can’t get up early. I suppose most important point here is absolutely do not study during the chillin’ periods; after all,  it’s a promise and a contract and it would be very damaging to break this promise to oneself (unless, in emergency situations like mid-terms and finals).

Of course, this proposal is, in essence, an adaptation for those with relatively limited levels of mental stamina. Thus, keep oneself well fed and watered and rested are paramount in the respect that these things keep the brain going (btw, brain LOVES glucose) and can increase mental stamina quite substantially.

For those who loath long studying sessions, I hope I have provided a basic frame of mind onto which better methods can be built and individual adaptation added. If you find yourself nodding along at places and thinking “this might work…” just post below and bound a few of your ideas around!

One thought on “Down with the marathon study sessions

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  1. I agree with you on a lot of points — I think having clear study times and down/relax times is of paramount importance. I also agree that having many short study periods can be just as useful if not more so for some people than long, marathon sessions. Great post! Thanks!


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