Do you ever wonder when is the best time to study?
I’ve spoken to and worked with over 20,000 students, so I’ve often heard some variation of this question:
“Will studying at a specific time help me get better grades?”
Here’s the truth…
How you study is more important than when you study.
Every student is unique. The best time to study depends on your circadian rhythm, schedule, extracurricular activities, and learning preferences.
What matters most is that once you determine your optimal time to study, you stick with that schedule.
Don’t wait until you’re feeling motivated to crack open your textbook. Instead, include study time in your daily and weekly routine.
For example, if you discover that you study best from 4 pm to 6 pm, set a recurring daily alarm at 3:50 pm to remind you of your upcoming work session.
If you do this, you’ll find it easier to stay on track with your study habits — and get better grades in the process, too.
Now, how do you determine the best time of day to study? That’s what the rest of this article is about.
Top benefits of studying in the morning
Most students I’ve worked with find it hard to study before school.
You want to arrive at your classes refreshed and ready to learn — not mentally exhausted from an early morning study session.
That being said, some students function best in the early hours of the day. So you can consider these benefits of getting your work done in the morning:
1. Your mind is fresh
Do you feel most alert and motivated at the start of your day?
Are you refreshed and raring to go after a good night’s sleep?
If so, you might find that the best time to study is in the morning, before daily decisions, chores, and to-do lists cloud your mind.
2. You won’t disrupt your sleep schedule
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re studying in the evening. Before you know it, the clock reads 11:30 pm — and your alarm is set for 6:00 am the next day!
If you want to do better in school, it’s crucial that you get enough sleep.
Now, you don’t have to follow a morning study routine to become a top student. But you might find it easier to stick to a sleep schedule if you’re not tackling assignments late into the night.
3. Brain-boosting natural light
Studies show that natural light affects our hormones and circadian rhythm while enhancing brain activity. Natural light can improve learning, cognition, mood, and even sleep.
I realise that my own sleep quality is much better when I get natural light in the morning!
If you have a study area where you can get natural light in the morning, you’ll be able to focus and retain new information more effectively.
4. A positive start to your day
When you start the day productively, you’ll often carry that positive energy with you throughout the rest of the day.
Plus, you’ll likely feel more in control and less stressed when you know you’ve completed a challenging task to start the day – before most of your classmates have even rolled out of bed!
Top benefits of studying in the afternoon
Let’s continue exploring the question of when the best time to study is by looking at the benefits of having afternoon study sessions:
1. Easy access to peers and teachers
One study tip that works for most students is to form a homework group.
Everyone has questions from time to time. When you study with a small group of motivated peers, you’ll have someone you can turn to for help.
If you always study alone, you might get discouraged when you’re faced with a hard assignment.
And if it’s early in the morning or late at night, your teachers and peers might not be available to support you.
2. Public spaces and libraries are open
Many of the students I’ve worked with tell me that it isn’t effective to study at home.
Distractions like video games, siblings, and the TV can make it tricky to focus on the task at hand.
If you focus best in a quiet space where there are other students (like a library or study room), the afternoon might be the best time to study for you.
3. Opportunity to integrate new information
I’ve said it before many times in my previous articles, but it bears repeating: cramming doesn’t work.
What approach works better instead?
Studying smarter by periodically reviewing the new material — starting on the day that you learn the new information.
If you choose to study in the afternoon, you’ll have the advantage of reviewing your notes while the information is fresh in your mind. This is because you would have just covered the material in class earlier that same day.
4. Fewer restrictions on your study time
If you get your work done in the afternoon, you’ll have more control over your schedule.
Your study sessions won’t get cut short because you need to go to school or because of late-night fatigue.
Top benefits of studying in the evening
Are you a night owl?
Maybe you realise that you have more energy in the evening and at night, and you can concentrate better during those hours.
Here are a few benefits of doing your schoolwork in the evening:
1. Fewer distractions and noise
Many students excel during the quiet and peaceful nighttime hours because there are fewer distractions.
But be sure to go to bed at a reasonable hour so that you still get sufficient sleep!
2. More conducive to a busy student’s schedule
I’m sure you’re a busy student. Between school, hobbies, chores, and exercise, sometimes the only opportunity to study is in the evening.
That’s fine, so long as you keep track of your homework assignments and prioritise them accordingly.
3. Retention of new information could improve
Some research suggests that students are better able to retain new information when they learn it before going to sleep.
Because when you’re sleeping, your brain is consolidating the new information so that you can retrieve it later on.
I encourage you to try it out and see if it works for you!
Deciding on (and sticking with) a study schedule is a great way to improve your academic performance.
But it’s only one step.
If you want to become a focused and effective student, you need a plan.
That’s why I’ve created The Perfect Study Plan. It’s a proven, step-by-step formula to help you become a straight-A student. Learn more about this exam preparation and study skills course here.