Whether you have upcoming exams or are just looking to improve your retention following class, studying helps to create lasting connections in the brain that will make information retrieval and usage easier and more effective. Although your schedule may vary, there are scientifically-based optimal times for nearly everything in your day, including learning and studying. Knowing the best times to study can help you develop a more effective routine to improve your academic performance and prepare you for your future career.

General Trends

Based on scientific studies, the best times to study are those times when your body is most awake, alert, and focused. Depending on your personal preferences, this time may vary. If you have a natural tendency to rise early, try to schedule studying shortly after breakfast, when you are feeling energized and your mind has sufficient willpower to focus on thought-intensive processes, such as studying and schoolwork. Individuals who prefer to stay up late are at their mental best during the late afternoon and early evening, making these times more beneficial for studying than the morning, when grogginess and poor focus will prevail. Studies show that younger individuals often perform best at schoolwork and studying later in the day, but this performance shifts as the body ages. The older you become, the more likely your body clock is to drift toward early mornings, also changing the times when you learn best.

Following Your Personal Clock

Despite what general trends may say, every person has an individual and unique body clock. The strategies that work best for the general public may not be best for you, so it’s also important for you to find the best time to complete your studies based on your schedule and its other demands. Regardless of the clock hour, the best times to study are those when you will have uninterrupted time to yourself. A quiet environment where you can concentrate on your studies is best, making the least optimal times to study those hours during which you may be interrupted or your surroundings are more active. Early mornings and late evenings can be the easiest times to find the peace and quiet you need, but it will depend on your personal schedule. The key to finding the right time to study is making the effort to fit studying into your schedule; even if you cannot schedule studying in with a rigid start or stop time, making sure to integrate this task into your daily or weekly routine will help you develop the healthy learning habits you need to manage your classwork alongside any other demands on your time.

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