Take breaks while you study


Dear students,

As you head towards those stressful final exams, you might feel compelled to lock yourself in your bedroom from 8 am to 10 pm and stare at your textbooks for 4 hours at a time.

That is not only a really torturous thing to do, but incredibly inefficient as well. Neurologists have found that our ability to concentrate and absorb information well continuously lasts only about half an hour on average (this research was mentioned by Dr Richard Palmer in his excellent book, Studying for Success). After half an hour, our ability to absorb falls precipitously and after an hour, most of us are essentially zombies pretending to study.


Thus the intelligent thing to do is to take a 5 to 15 minute break every half an hour or so. This will refresh your brain and reset your receptiveness to information, and when you restart, you will perform at a high level again.

So what should you do during that 5 to 15 minute break? Well, anything that helps you to recuperate and revive, from taking a walk to dancing to sipping your favourite drink. But I don’t recommend staring at your phone or even worse, lying down (that break is likely to last a lot longer than 15 minutes!).

Other research has also found that sitting for long periods increases your risk of an early death. Thus the approach of taking breaks and getting up while studying is crucial for your good health, too!

Of course, different students perform differently when studying. You might also find that your concentration lasts longer when you’re revising your favourite subject. Thus for myself, I have no fixed intervals whenever I study or read. Whenever I find my performance fading away, I take a break.

All the best for your exams!

Steven Ooi


Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from NUS, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as an English and GP tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to GP and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

General Paper sample essays here.

English or GP tutors keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10-15 on Google) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.


About gptuitionsg

A dedicated English and GP tutor with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, Steven Ooi retired from the profession after a 14-year career during which he was one of the most sought-after private tutors in Singapore. He is the recipient of the Minerva Prize from NUS, which is awarded to the top English Language honours student of each cohort. This website, which has consistently ranked among the top 10 on Google and has received over 530,000 hits, has now been converted into a GP resource site cum listing of recommended tutors. If you are a GP or English tutor who wishes to be listed here, please email Steven Ooi at stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Interested parties will be assessed and interviewed by him, and qualifications will be checked. These procedures are necessary to uphold quality standards. DISCLAIMER: While every reasonable effort has been made to assess the competence and verify the qualifications of recommended tutors here, no guarantees are made and you engage them at your own risk. By using this website, you agree that you will not hold the webmaster Steven Ooi responsible for any consequences — direct or otherwise — that occur in relation with your use of this website.
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