How to Take Breaks Effectively While Studying for FE and PE Exams?

As a candidate for the FE Exam or the PE Exam, your emphasis should be preparing for the test with complete focus, zeal, and determination. During this preparation phase, one of the main issues you will face is whether to take a break and how to effectively manage breaks without getting carried away.

Time and time again, science has cleared up certain misconceptions about taking breaks by proving that it is essential to take breaks while studying and that adding breaks effectively in your study schedule helps you improve your retaining power end overall proficiency.

The same applies to the FE and PE examinations. To help you in your exam preparation journey, we will explore how to take breaks effectively while studying for FE and PE exam while improving the exam preparation and utilizing your time best.

Understanding the Importance of Breaks

When you work or learn hard, your brain must avoid distractions to concentrate on the task. When studying for the FE or PE exam, one must process how to deal with distractions while studying. This type of “thought-work” is primarily the responsibility of your prefrontal brain, which is essential in your capacity to focus, think clearly, and resist impulses.

As your brain expands energy, this degree of focus becomes more difficult by the minute! You will need to refuel at some time to refill after working so hard. As a result, taking frequent breaks might help you be more effective than working continuously. Effective breaks can assist in relieving stress and prepare you to refocus when you return to study.

Therefore, you will be more productive if you take breaks effectively while studying for FE exam and PE exam. Not only that, taking breaks while studying even increases recollection! If you find yourself becoming increasingly irritated or blocked on a certain topic despite your best efforts, it may be time to relax your brain and take a break.

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The Science Behind Taking Breaks

Science Behind Taking Breaks

Now that we have understood the importance of break, we shall explore some other facets of it. Earlier, we mentioned how science has been able to bust different myths about taking breaks and how effectively adding breaks into your work or study schedule can help improve performance.

Let us now look at the scientific evidence in reasons behind the motivation of taking breaks and how they can help us improve the outcomes of our exam preparations.

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Benefits of Taking Short Breaks on Cognitive Function

Firstly, let us look at the benefits of taking short breaks on the brain’s cognitive function. We have listed these benefits for your ease and understanding.

  1. Improvement in Memory: It has been demonstrated that short, repeated learning periods with pauses improve focus and aid in memorizing new information. The Pomodoro method may be a great way to learn during productive periods and relax during breaks.
  2. Relief from Stress: Worry and pressure may lead to chronic stress, and students are more likely to experience greater stress levels, which can have physical and emotional consequences. As a result, regular pauses can help to relax and reduce stress.
  3. Increase in Energy Levels: When we concentrate on one topic or chapter, it is extremely typical to feel depleted of energy. Rest can be beneficial in allowing your body to heal. Power naps of 10-20 minutes help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the syllabus!
  4. Improves performance and creativity: When practicing different problems, questions, and tasks, new innovative ways to challenges may emerge. So, the next time you’re stuck, consider taking a break, resting, and doing something else. Hopefully, by the time you get back to work, you’ll have come up with some fresh ideas.

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How Breaks Can Improve Focus and Motivation

When preparing for an exam, distractions while studying are common negative factors in your environment. This is where taking short and structured breaks helps. Research has proven that taking intended and effective breaks helps improve motivation, energy, and focus. You should also look at these tips to decrease studying distractions for FE and PE exam, to tackle environmental distractions.

Once you take breaks that are scheduled within your study plan and do some purposeful activity during that break, such as meditation, taking a walk, or maybe cooking a small snack, your mind will relax and destress itself by releasing hormones such as serotonin.

So once you go back to studying and preparing for your examination, you can do so with a fresh mind and improved motivation and focus due to the refreshing effects of the hormones in your system and a relaxed body.

Common Misconceptions About Taking Breaks

Common Misconceptions About Taking Breaks

It is usually frowned upon when discussing taking breaks during an exam preparation schedule. Common misconceptions about taking breaks include that they’re just a waste of time and you’re cutting out the time you can use to study.

Also, if you study for more extended periods and then take breaks, that approach is more effective, and you’ll be able to concentrate more. These misconceptions are not based on facts and are wrong. Hence the word misconceptions. Let’s explore these in detail.

The Notion That Studying for Longer Periods Is More Effective

According to a 2011 study by researchers at the University of Illinois, when you pursue a single activity for an extended length of time, your attentional resources fall—and as your attentional resources decline, so does your capacity to focus.

However, the same research also discovered that taking small pauses from a task assists you in maintaining attention and concentration for extended periods, something we will cover in the next heading. Therefore, the notion that studying for extended periods is more compelling is wrong.

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Mastering Study Sessions with the Serial Pomodoro Technique 

Taking breaks is crucial for focus and preventing burnout while studying. But what if you could leverage breaks to further enhance your learning? Enter the Serial Pomodoro Technique, a powerful tool to optimize your study sessions.

The Serial Pomodoro Technique Explained

This technique builds upon the popular Pomodoro Technique, which uses timed intervals to promote focused work. Here’s how it works:

  1. Focused Work Intervals: Set a timer for 25 minutes and work diligently on your study material. Minimize distractions and stay laser-focused on the task at hand.
  2. Short Break: Once the timer rings, take a short break (5 minutes) to refresh your mind. Get up, move around, grab a healthy snack, or do some light stretches.
  3. The Power of Repetition: After completing 2-3 Pomodoro cycles (typically 50-75 minutes of focused work), take a slightly longer break (10-15 minutes). Here’s the key difference: During this extended break, actively review the material you just covered.
    • Summarize key points in your own words.
    • Review flashcards related to the topics covered.
    • Explain the concepts to a study partner (even if it’s an imaginary one!).

This review stage utilizes spaced repetition, a learning strategy where information is reviewed at increasing intervals. Studies have shown that spaced repetition techniques significantly improve long-term memory and knowledge retention [1]. By actively recalling information during breaks, you’re essentially “cramming” strategically, solidifying understanding and boosting your ability to remember what you learned.

Maximizing Your Study Sessions

The Serial Pomodoro Technique offers a structured approach to studying that goes beyond simply taking breaks. By incorporating focused work intervals, short breaks for refreshment, and spaced repetition during extended breaks, you can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your study sessions.

The Belief That Taking Breaks Is a Waste of Time

It is a common acceptance that if you take breaks when preparing for an examination, you’re wasting time. Fortunately for us, all this is not true. On the contrary, taking breaks is one of the top methods to avoid distractions while studying.

Because if you take a break during a study period, you can look at the distraction and interact with it so that it is removed. Either way, a break can also destress your brain by relaxing or doing something productive like walking. Breaks also help you relax physically when you can get out of that sitting position, off that study table, and do some little stretching to relax your body posture as well.

Once you return to that study table with a refreshed mind, relaxed body, and free of any distractions in the environment, you will increase your productivity and retain more information and knowledge. Hence proving that you must take breaks effectively while studying.

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Preparing for any exam, especially a licensure exam on the lines of the FE and PE exams, adds stress to your routine and has a significant role in your professional goals. Earlier, it was always considered that the longer you studied, the more beneficial it is for your preparation for the exam.

Fortunately, research and studies have proven that not only does taking breaks to increase productivity, but it also helps increase your mind’s ability to retain and reproduce information. Therefore, we recommend you take breaks effectively while studying for FE and PE exam.

We wish you the best of luck in your FE and PE exam preparation journey! Keep checking our blogs for suggestions and tips for your FE Electrical exam prep and PE power exam prep.


Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.