ConversationPerformance On A Biology Exam: Narrator: Listen to part of a conversation between a student and her biology professor. Professor: Hi, Samantha, how did your track meet go? Student: Great! I placed first in one race and third in another. Professor: Congratulations, you must practice a lot. Student: Three times a week pre-season, but now that we are competing every weekend. We practice six days a week from 3:30 to 5. Professor: Athletics places a heavy demand on your time, don't they? Student: Yeah, but I really love competing, so ... Professor: 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? Student: No. 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. Professor: 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 handled the microscope and the samples of onion cells and, well, how careful 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 understood the chapter. I mean, it seemed you really had a good understanding of it. Student: I thought so, too. But I missed some questions about cell division on the exam. Professor: So, what happened? Student: I just sort of blanked out, I guess. I had a hard time remembering details. It was so frustrating. Professor: All right. Let's back up. You say you studied. Where? At home? Student: At my kitchen table, actually. Professor: And that's supposed to be a quiet environment? Student: Not exactly. My brother and parents try to keep it down when I'm studying but the phone pretty much rings off the hook, so. Professor: So you might try a place with fewer distractions, like, the library. Student: But the library closes at midnight 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. Professor: Oh, OK. You know that studying six consecutive hours is not equivalent to studying one hour a day for six days. Student: It isn't? Professor: No, there's a research that shows that after an hour of intensive 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 review your notes even twenty minutes a day, it'd be much better than waiting until the night before the exam to try and absorb all those details. Student: Oh, I didn't realize. Professor: Think of your brain as a muscle. If you didn't practice regularly with your track team, and then try to squeeze in three weeks' worth of running practice the day before a track meet, how well do you think you will perform in the races?