If you meditate before exams, it can help clear your mind and create a more receptive state for learning. Just 10 minutes may be enough to boost your focus and concentration ahead of your study session.
If your mind tends to race when you’re supposed to be studying or before you take an exam, you’re not alone.
It happens to all of us. Your mind may be resisting because you don’t actually want to be studying. Or, maybe the task in front of you feels too challenging.
Either way, your mind looks for distractions to relieve you.
Meditation has been shown to help you get more out of your study sessions, as well as to reduce stress and anxiety before exams.
Let’s explore more about meditation and studying.
How to meditate before exams
Here’s perhaps the simplest way to start meditating before exams:
- Sit comfortably: First, sit in a comfortable position.
- Focus on your breath: Breathe through your nose. Watch as your breath goes in and out. This is where you’ll practice holding your attention.
- Watch thoughts without judgment: Thoughts will come, and you’ll forget that you’re supposed to be focusing on your breath. That’s okay. Allow any thoughts that come to mind to pass by without judgement.
- Bring your focus back to your breath: Once you’ve noticed that thoughts have pulled your attention away from your breath, gently come back to your breath.
By doing this, you’re strengthening your muscle of attention in a healthy way. You’re gently reminding yourself to stay in the present moment, which improves your ability to stay focused and concentrate.
You don’t necessarily have to focus on your breath. Other meditation methods involve other single points of focus, like a flickering candle, or even a focus on the sensations in your body.
You could even try a mindfulness journaling session instead, as a way to experiment and see what works best.
The most important thing is to find a meditation style that feels right for you, so you can keep the practice up long-term.
Experiment, and find what works best for you.
Does mindfulness help with studying?
Yes, mindfulness helps with studying. In fact, mindfulness may even make you smarter, according to some studies.
As described above, it’s also been shown to provide short and long-term benefits to your memory, concentration, focus, and decision-making capabilities.
Other benefits of practicing mindfulness and meditation before studying and exams
- Helps you learn and retain knowledge better
- Helps you relax and recharge between study sessions
- Helps you be more focused, so you can get more out of your studying
Another key factor is that mindfulness and meditation have been shown over and over again to reduce stress and anxiety.
In the context of studying, this is critical. Students can put intense pressure on themselves to retain information and achieve a certain outcome. Especially when it comes to exams, stress can hurt performance. Meditation and mindfulness is an important way to counter this effect.
Is it better to meditate before or after studying?
If your goal is to retain more information from your study session, you’ll probably want to meditate before studying.
Meditation before studying can help to clear the mind and create a more receptive state for learning. Based on a variety of studies in recent decades, it looks likely that meditation has the capacity to increase both your intelligence and emotional intelligence.
In short, meditation can make you smarter long-term, but it also gives a short-term boost to memory, decision-making skills, problem solving, attention and focus.
Meditation after studying could be a good way to unwind and center yourself after an intense session of concentration and focus. And, you’ll benefit from long-term benefits to memory, focus, and concentration. However, meditation after studying won’t provide you with the boost to focus and concentration you’re looking for while studying.
How long should I meditate before studying?
How long you should meditate before studying will depend on your goals for meditation.
If you’re looking for a short-term boost to memory and focus during the course of your studying session, as little as 10 minutes may be enough.
A 2018 study showed immediate benefits to performance, attention, and focus with sessions of 10 minutes of meditation, even among inexperienced meditators.
However, if you’re looking for longer-term benefits to intelligence and emotional intelligence, you may want to meditate for 15-20 minutes on a more regular schedule.
Is meditation good before exams?
Exams can be a stressful time, and anything you can do to reduce stress may improve your performance on the exam, as well as your well-being.
A 2019 study looked at seventeen college students who underwent yoga and meditation training in the six weeks prior to final exams.
The students’ anxiety and stress scores decreased significantly over the course of the training, and by the end of the six weeks, no students scored high for stress or anxiety.
The great news is that this study only involved yoga and meditation once per week. So even small efforts can pay off, especially around exam time when stress typically rises.
How to calm your mind and focus on studying
Sitting down to study takes powerful focus and concentration.
Whether you’re distracted, challenged by what you’re studying, or you simply don’t want to study, it’s easy to face resistance to studying.
And when that happens, all that time sitting down and staring at your notes is less powerful than it could be. It becomes harder to retain knowledge and connect ideas.
Meditation is a proven tool to help improve focus, concentration, and decision-making capabilities.
As little as 10 minutes of meditation capabilities before studying can help.
Experiment with different meditation methods, see what works for you, and get back to studying effectively.
Frequently asked questions
Can I meditate before studying?
Yes. In fact, meditating before studying is likely to help you retain information and improve your decision-making capabilities. In the long run, meditation may even increase your IQ.
Based on a variety of studies in recent decades, it looks likely that meditation has the capacity to increase both your intelligence and emotional intelligence. Meditation has been shown to improve short-term memory, decision-making skills, problem solving, attention and focus.
Can you study while meditating?
No. It’s not possible to study while meditating, because meditation requires your full attention. However, you can practice mindfulness while studying.
How to stay mindful while studying
You can stay mindful while studying by giving your full attention to what you’re doing. Notice that after a while, your attention drifts away. When it does, gently bring it back to your studying.
Hi there—my name is Ryan. My mindfulness practice kicked off in 2016 after I joined a ten-day silent retreat. I started Mindfulness Box because thinking about what makes humans happy, calm, and peaceful is endlessly fascinating to me.