Image from picjumbo.

Image from picjumbo.

When people say “if I study anymore, I’m literally going to die,” of course it is assumed that they are not being literal. But, as always, history has prevailed to prove us wrong, because, yes, studying too much can kill you. Just ask good o’l William Thornton Parker, Jr, a Harvard Law student who died in 1900 because of “abscess on the brain, a result of overstudy.” Go ahead, read his obituary here.

Although medical treatment practice and beliefs may not have been up to par back then as they are now, it is still safe to assume that overstudying can lead to unwanted and unneeded amounts of stress and tension. While on the surface too much studying can seem like a good motif, because of your uncanny ability to memorize that one more vocabulary word, pythagorean theorem or the elusive oxford comma rules, overstudying can also lead you to burn out.

Keep in mind that standardized tests are meant to be standardized (shocker, isn’t it?) In a way, they are supposed to test your aptitude or intelligence for a certain subject, and the score you receive should, idealistically, remain constant within a boundary of acceptable scores – no matter how many times you take it. Many people falsely believe, however, that by taking 10+ practice tests, they will be able to score higher on the real test. While taking practice tests are definitely helpful and should be done, studying these practice tests too much will eventually level off your ability to actually score higher. Basically, you can study for 1 entire year, but most likely after a couple of months of effective studying, your score will plateau.

Now, you are probably freaking out because all your life you have been told study, study and study! Yes, please do study. However, do so in moderation. Keep in mind that the score you receive over a test is not as important as your well being and health. You should definitely try your hardest, but don’t try to the point where you are going insane. In doing so, you will just create more levels of stress trying to remember more vocabulary words and formulas, and eventually you will burnout and possibly even free up on test day. Be prepared and study hard, however, study effectively.

After you have studied effectively, take some time for yourself and forget about the upcoming test you have. Spend time with family and friends, go catch the new movie that is out, hit up the local spas and frozen yogurt places. Enjoy yourself knowing that you have put in your all! If push comes to shove, the SAT is offered just about every month – so don’t stress yourself out by studying literally till the minute you walk in to the exam!

We don’t need another case of Mr. Parker.

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