What part of the day is the most appropriate to study

The afternoon or the night?

This is a personal decision, but in any case, you can:

  • Choose hours that aren’t close to meals. You could end up giving up in the middle of the digestive process.
  • Try to study at the same time every day. This creates a permanent work habit that lets you better organize your leisure time and your breaks.
  • Study during the times you feel you are more efficient.


► Lastly, consider:

  • “What’s studied during the final hours of the afternoon and night is learned slower, but is remembered better”. In contrast, what’s studied in the morning is learned faster but forgotten easier.
  • We also need to alternate study breaks, and it’s better to always study at the same times of day and to have breaks at the same times as well. This creates a habit.
  • You shouldn’t study immediately after class, doing sports, etc.
  • You shouldn’t start with the most difficult subjects, but rather with those of medium or low difficulty (try to avoid the lack of motivation when studying the hardest subjects, or the lower concentration at the beginning). Then, go to the more difficult subjects, and finish with one that you like better.

Study breaks

Breaks: some students prefer not to take breaks, because then they lose all concentration and need lots of time to go back to studying. In contrast, breaks are really useful for other students, because this lets them renew their strength and continue working. For some, changing activities is enough of a rest.

What’s the case with you?

If you prefer to take breaks, remember the following:

-Don’t do it when you’re in the maximum performance phase, because this is the best time to study.

– If you only take one break, take it when you notice your performance and concentration start to decay.

– Don’t use your break for activities that make you lose concentration, such as watching TV, listening to the radio or starting long conversations, because then it will be difficult to concentrate again.

– It’s advisable to do some relaxation and concentration exercises. You’ll rest and you’ll be in good physical and mental shape to continue with the rest of the work.

– In all cases, breaks should be short during study times.

Performance curve while studying

– There’s an initial phase we can call “warming up”. Going back to the example of the athlete, you know that you always need to do some warming up before any sort of physical exercise. In a student’s case, you have to do mental exercises, and your mind needs time to prepare. This is the right time to do all of the tasks with medium difficulty.


– Then, there’s the maximum performance phase. The mind is ready, and we haven’t worked enough to be tired. This is the best time to get at those more difficult and/or less attractive tasks.


– In the final phase, both work rhythm and concentration decrease. We start to feel tired, and so it’s time to do the easiest tasks that require less effort and concentration.


Your personal time to study

During your daily study time, you have to keep the following things in mind:

  1. Prior planning: in the first place, you need to have enough time to do some prior planning. Before each work session, you have to plan what you’ll do during it, and this means you can’t forget to account for that time.


  1. Necessary supplies: When you know what you’re going to do, the next step is to prepare the necessary supplies. You need to have on your table some pens, rulers, paper and other supplies, books, calendars, dictionaries, etc., or you should at least have them as close as possible, because this will really help you out, since you won’t have an excuse to go looking for something and get distracted on the way there. This will help you earn some time, and you won’t lose concentration.


  1. Activities to do: writing notes, summaries, graphs, reviews, research, etc.

Then, you do your specific activities, according to the planned order and your own study rhythm. During your planning, you should include all the tasks (reviews, diagrams, research, summaries…), and you need to make sure you have enough time to do each one of them.


  1. Breaks: You also need to keep breaks in mind, if you’re one of those students who needs them and finds them useful. You need to determine how much time you’ll need, and when you’ll take them.


  1. Unexpected events: It’s not easy to strictly follow your plan. Some task might take you more time than you originally planned, you might need to do more research, you might get a visit, etc. So, it’s convenient to plan for this and leave some time that helps you deal with all your setbacks.


When you have a limited amount of money to spend, you work according to a budget. In the same way, when you have a limited amount of time, you have to plan accordingly.

You make an economic budget so you don’t spend more than you should, or so that you make sure to only buy what you need. Allocating your time properly helps you to avoid wasting it, so you can do everything that’s important.


So, we need to make a timetable that should be:


  • Personal: it should be written by you, keeping in mind every element. First, you have to get to know yourself so you can plan according to your skills and aptitudes. We all have different levels of intelligence, and we all have different skills. Some people find studying to be hard, and others think it’s easy. We’re better at some subjects than others, because we are more intellectually prepared for them.

In regards to interests, it’s really important to keep your eyes on the future so you can give special attention to those areas that are more closely related to subsequent subjects, depending also on the choices you make.

  • Realistic: on the one hand, it should be based on study needs and specific activities. On the other hand, it should be based on what you realistically can do. Don’t write an ideal plan. Remember that you’re writing something you must stick to, so keep your skills and available time in mind.
  • Flexible: you should always include some extra time in case of unexpected events. You might get an unexpected visit, or you might have to go out for some reason. If you’ve left some margin of extra time, this won’t be an inconvenience, and you’ll be able to do most of the work you need to do.

Concentration and attention

Regarding concentration and attention, do you know any athlete who gets nice marks without training hard? Well, the same thing happens with concentration: the student who wants to improve it has to train every day.

► Reinforcing your interest: Never start studying with the mindset that what you’re studying is boring, because then it really will be boring. You should rather think about how useful things are, and the results you get from your studying. You must be enthusiastic about what you’re studying. Then, it will be easier and more fun.

► Keep a positive attitude: You need to keep a positive attitude towards your classes, teachers and classmates. Of course, there are pros and cons about everything, but the people who always try to find the silver lining are the ones who succeed. The world belongs to optimists. If you always seek the positives about your classes, teachers and classmates, then learning will be more fun and interesting, and your attention and concentration will improve.

► Know yourself, trust in your skills: It’s essential for you to trust in yourself. If you give up at the very start, how will you ever succeed? Be realistic, and think that if you work hard, you can get anything you want.

► Control your nerves: When something doesn’t come out right, be calm. Getting nervous doesn’t solve anything, and it’s better to do relaxation exercises to help you keep control and, once you’re calm, you can find a solution.

► Confront your mistakes: No one’s perfect, we all make mistakes. But, people can react in different ways when facing a mistake: they either cave in and never get back on track, or they learn from their mistakes and move on. To be clearer: there are some students who get depressed when they fail a class, and so they stop studying. There are other students who fail a class, and then analyze what happened and what their mistake was, and they start studying, more eager than ever. Which of these will succeed?

► Avoid distractions: Look for the causes, the when, the how, and the why of getting distracted, and try to solve it.

► Solve your problems: You’ll have a hard time studying if there’s a problem and you let it get stuck in your mind.

► Get good study habits: Just like a good athlete prepares his muscles for great efforts with all his training, a good student prepares his mind, he trains it and accustoms it to study sessions. If the athlete didn’t prepare, he would get exhausted quickly, and if the student doesn’t prepare, he’ll have mental fatigue.

► Surround yourself with an adequate social environment: In a way, this is similar to what happens to athletes. When they have fans cheering for them and supporting them, they play better and get better results. The same thing happens with you, and this is why it’s important for your family to support you, and for you to be surrounded by good friends, who are hard-working and responsible. This will all help you greatly

Mental preparation

Making environmental changes and being fit is not enough to succeed. There’s still something fundamental remaining: “Mental preparation”; working hard on the other aspects doesn’t do much good if you’re not psychologically prepared.

Remember that studying is a mental activity, so it’s necessary to be psychologically ready to face studying.

You need to be confident about yourself, to be interested and to want to learn, to be optimistic, to set goals and of course, to be able to control your personal problems. How many times has it happened that while you’re studying, you lose concentration because you’re trying to find a solution to something that worries you or makes you mad, like money issues or even problems in a relationship?

Factors that help you study

EXERCISING: It helps to fight the harmful effects of sitting down for too long. Some studies say that over 50% of students don’t do enough exercise.

Besides, it’s been proven that there’s a correlation between physical preparation and academic grades. This means that students who are physically fit tend to get better grades than those who are not.

Lastly, if sports are not your thing, you should know that there are many other activities that help you exercise: hiking, walking, cycling, dancing, etc.


SLEEPING: It’s very common for many of you to still be tired when you wake up in the morning to go to school. Maybe you didn’t sleep enough the previous night, or maybe you went to bed too late. If this is the case, it’s very likely that a TV show is to blame.

TV steals many hours of sleep from students. However, sleeping helps the body relax, making it ready for the next day.

You might remember a time when you had a bad night. Surely, the next morning you didn’t feel like doing anything, and it was very difficult to focus on an intellectual task. So it’s important to have a strict bed time, because sleeping is a basic necessity for the human body.

You might be wondering how many hours you should be sleeping. It’s true that each individual person needs a different amount of time, but someone your age should ideally get between 8 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleeping time.


BALANCED DIET: It’s important to get a varied diet, rich in minerals, vitamins and proteins, because these are the things that get used the most when doing intellectual tasks. So, it’s important to consume: milk and dairies, rich in calcium and phosphorus; dry fruits rich in magnesium; meat, fish and eggs, rich in proteins; vegetables and fruits, rich in vitamins and minerals.

But, apart from your diet, there are other aspects to consider:

  • Don’t eat food that can give you digestive problems, because then you’ll be indisposed when it’s time to study.
  • Chew thoroughly to facilitate digestion, so you can be ready when it’s time to study.
  • Take care of your oral hygiene after meals. This helps avoid certain physical pains.
  • Take a break during digestion periods: don’t do anything that requires you to focus or to do a lot of thinking.
  • Have a good breakfast, eat well, have a light lunch and a small dinner.


NO STIMULANTS: Any product that’s detrimental to health hurts studying, directly or indirectly.

We’ll analyze some products:

  • Alcohol: reduces all psychological functions and overall performance. Even in small doses, alcohol reduces performance in intellectual tasks.
  • Tobacco: tobacco contaminates and consumes the oxygen that activates brain cells.


RELAXATION: Usually, when we breathe, we only use a small amount of our lungs’ potential power. So, we are losing some concentration potential, because deep and slow breathing has a positive effect on the mind, thanks to the larger amount of oxygen that’s passed on to the brain.

So, it’s advisable to do slow and deep breathing exercises, especially after waking up, when going to bed, and during breaks. Three or four minutes of breathing exercises while studying are enough.


Among these factors, we can find physical and psychological conditions, and they’re closely related.

Surely, none of you feel like studying when you’re sick and have a fever. However, it’s not exactly the same when you have a full stomach or you haven’t rested enough. It’s common, for example, for the student to take a test while looking like a zombie after studying hard for a few days before the exam, and not having slept enough. Do you really think you can give a good performance after a big meal, when all you really want is to sleep? Or, can you do it when you’re closing your eyes because you haven’t slept enough?


BEING HEALTHY: It’s important to be healthy in order to give your best performance while studying. You can hardly focus if you’re feeling uncomfortable, if you have a fever, a headache, etc. Under these circumstances, you must do your best to feel better, and once you’ve achieved this, then it’s time for studying.

In this section, there are two things that are really important: hearing and eyesight. A lot of students fail in their studying because they have a hearing or visual impairment that hasn’t been detected. In some cases, even if it has been detected, it’s not receiving the proper treatment. So, it’s important to go to a specialist and get regular checkups.

The place where you’re studying should be

FIXED: Use the same place whenever it’s possible, because this can help you create a study habit.

PERSONAL: It must belong to you, and it must be decorated according to your taste. You must consider that your study table, and the immediate space around your studying area, shouldn’t have anything that’s not specifically related to studying. This includes elements that can have a sentimental value (trophies, pictures, posters). You might have to share your room, but try to find a personal space in a corner. It’s important that you have your own furniture.

ISOLATED: it should let you focus, and for that, you should avoid:

◘ Conversations and telephone calls during study hours. If you share the room, try to study at different hours from your roommate, or make an agreement to keep quiet during the scheduled studying hours. The human voice is the main source of distraction when studying.

◘ Music. It’s not advisable to listen to it during activities that require great concentration. It could be a convenient method to drown out distracting noise from outside, but it would have to be background music with a low volume and without ads. If there’s no outdoors noise, it’s better to study without music on. Of course, TV is forbidden, because it stimulates both hearing and sight.

◘ Outside noises. Choose, if you can, a quiet room, away from the living room, the TV, etc.


ORGANIZED: It must be organized in such a way that each object has a specific place, and you can quickly find it whenever you need it. This will save you lots of time when looking for books, notes and material. Another important thing here is to have all the necessary material ready and at hand, so you can better face your study session. Of course, when it’s over, you must put everything back in its place.


ILLUMINATION: Natural lighting is better than artificial lighting. Light should come from the opposite side of your writing hand, so it doesn’t create distracting shadows. Artificial lighting must follow that rule as well. Try for it to be well-distributed, neither too intense nor too weak, and of course, that it’s not directed directly into the student’s eyes. An articulated lamp with a 60W blue light bulb and other environmental lamps that illuminate the rest of the room are the most appropriate sources of artificial lighting, because they don’t create too much contrast.


VENTILATION: It’s important to circulate the air in the room with some frequency, because if we don’t, we can suffer the effects of bad ventilation: headaches, dizziness, general discomfort, tiredness, sleepiness… this will cause you to have a lower intellectual performance. Going out to get some fresh air is not enough, because it doesn’t get rid of the effects of bad ventilation. It’s necessary to get a good supply of clean air, and this is where breaks can be useful.


TEMPERATURE: Even though it’s not easy to control this factor, especially in the summer, it’s convenient to know that research suggests the ideal temperature for mental activity is around 17 and 22 ºC. Anything above or below these numbers can produce undesirable effects, especially during long periods of time. Cold makes you restless and nervous; heat makes you sleepy and inactive. So, both temperatures make concentration harder. An important thing to consider is that the room should have a homogenous temperature.


FURNITURE: It would be ideal to have a study table, a chair, and a closet-shelving to put books, folders and stationary. However, a table with enough space to place all the material comfortably, and a chair with a straight back should be enough when studying.