Listen to part of a conversation between a Student and her biology professor.
Hi Samantha, how did your track meet go?
Great! I placed first in one race and third in another.
Congratulations! You must practice a lot.
Three times a week pre-season, but now that we're competing every weekend, we practice 6 days a week from 3:30 till 5:00.
Athletics place a heavy demand on your time, don't they?
Yeah, but I really love competing, so...
You know I played soccer in college and my biggest challenge, and I didn't always succeed, was getting my studying in during soccer season. Are you having a similar...
No, I... I really do make time to study.
And I actually study more for this class than I do for all my other classes.
But I didn't see the grade I expected on my mid-term exam, which is why I came by.
Well, you didn't do badly on the exam, but I agree it did not reflect your potential.
I say this because your work on the lab project was exemplary.
I was so impressed with the way you handle the microscope and the samples of onion cells, and with how carefully you observed and diagramed and interpreted each stage of cell division.
And I don't think you could have done that if you hadn't read and understood the chapter.
I mean it seemed like you really had a good understanding of it.
I thought so too, but I missed some questions about cell division on the exam.
So what happened?
I just sort of blanked out, I guess.
I had a hard time remembering details.
It was so frustrating.
Alright, let's back up.
You say you studied, where, at home?
At my kitchen table actually.
And that's supposed to be a quiet environment?
Not exactly. My brother and parents try to keep it down when I am studying, but the phone pretty much rings off the hook, so...
So you might try a place with fewer distractions, like the library...
But the library closes at mid-night, and I like to study all night before a test, you know, so everything is fresh in my mind.
I studied six straight hours the night before the mid-term exam.
That's why I expected to do so much better.
You know that studying six consecutive hours is not equivalent to studying one hour a day for six days.
No. There is research that shows that after about an hour of intense focus, your brain needs a break.
It needs to, you know, shift gears a little.
Your brain's ability to absorb information starts to decline after about the first hour.
So if you are dealing with a lot of new concepts and vocabulary, anyway, if you just reviewed your notes, even 20 minutes a day, it'd be much better than waiting until the night before an exam to try and absorb all those details.
Oh, I didn't realize.
Think of your brain as a muscle.
If you didn't practice regularly with your track team, and then tried to squeeze in three weeks worth of running practice just the day before a track meet, how well do you think you'd perform in your races?