The 80/20 Pareto Principle (commonly known as the 80/20 rule) is used in many areas, including business management, economics, computing, and software engineering.

The 80/20 Pareto Principle is an incredibly effective tool for students striving to obtain knowledge in a particular area. Students who adopt the Pareto 80/20 rule in their studies increase their efficiency by focusing on the key areas that significantly influence their performance.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the 80/20 Pareto Principle

Despite being praised by many experts for its efficacy Pareto principle also involve some drawbacks and limitations.

Advantages of Using the Pareto Principle

There is a vital aspect behind the grown prominence of the Pareto Principle with utmost rationality. It offers a fundamental strategy to determine which area needs most of your efforts for maximum productivity and efficiency. For example, if 80% of plane crashes occur due to 20% of human errors, then aviation experts must find the right areas where these errors are hidden and try to fix them instantly.

The impact of the 80/20 rule is based on how well you assess the entire scenario. If you poorly find and label 20% of determining factors incorrectly, the results will reveal otherwise. Therefore, by critically evaluating the application of the 80/20 Pareto principle in your studies, you can leverage advantages like:

  • Improved Productivity

The 80/20 rule helps you redirect all your efforts and focus on the core areas and resources that produce most of the productivity and efficient outcomes. Using the 80/20 Pareto principle, students can prioritize different sections of their course outline.

The priorities are subjective to the students based on their existing knowledge and understanding of the subject. By doing so, students can focus on 20% of the subject to produce 80% of the results.

  • Broad-Scale Application of the Principle

Apart from preparation, you can apply the Pareto principle in different areas of your academic, including research, exam, assignments, projects, etc. For instance, you can read and assess the question paper during the exam to align and restructure your thoughts before attempting the test.

Think of investing only 20% of your time in reading your paper. By doing so, you can solve your exam efficiently with more confidence and better time management, instead of reading and attempting each question individually.

  • Assessment of Unproductivity

You can also use the 80/20 Pareto principle to find the reason behind your unproductive study routine and reasons for procrastination. If you are one of the students who lack focus on their studies, the Pareto 80/20 rule tells you that 80% of your unproductive routine is driven by 20% of the distractions.

The unproductivity and inconsistency in your studies can be highly damaging to your academic career, but you can improve it by eliminating only 20% of the distractions.

  • Optimized Study Routine

Your study routine is the most powerful aspect of your exam preparation strategy that can either make or break your study routine. According to the Pareto 80/20 rule, you can conclude that 80% of your study routine is complete or irrelevant, and unnecessary activities only produce 80% of productivity for your exam preparation.

Alternatively, 20% of your study routine involves actions and practices that can make up 80% of the results. By critically evaluating your study routine, you can easily prioritize your tasks and time for a more effective study session and scale your productivity to a considerable extent.

Disadvantages of the Pareto Principle

The fundamental idea of the 80/20 Pareto principle is to uncover the key actions and KPIs that allow you to produce more results with fewer efforts. But it also involves some disadvantages, such as:

  • Lack of Absolute Nature

The Pareto principle of 80/20 is based on comparing the results of the events that happened in the past. The approach can be irrelevant in most of the current-day problems or all existing areas. For instance, you can find a case study highlighting the benefits of the 80/20 rule for arts and social sciences students.

But for engineering and scientific education, the masses would suggest not using this technique. Simply relying entirely on the 80/20 rule without logic and reasoning can be problematic in the long run.

  • Loopholes in Problem Solving

The Pareto 80/20 principle only provides a quantitative relation between exam output and student input. It neglects the most critical factors in its problem-solving equation, such as indirect factors, human factors, psychological factors, etc.

It means what worked for the majority may not work for you, or in the worst case, it may exacerbate your problem. For example, you can expect the 80/20 rule to produce results for students suffering from anxiety and depression or any psychological disorder like Dyslexia.

  • Lack of Completeness

The 80/20 rule is not absolute in accurately giving 20% and 80% results, as it states. You can expect to produce 70% results with 30% of efforts or initiatives or 60% of results with 40% of efforts. This is subjective to the student, academic discipline, and various other factors like subject interest, existing knowledge, psychological well-being, etc.

  • Misleading Dependence

Do not get fooled by the sole idea put forward by the 80/20 Pareto principle. If you are thinking about scoring only 80% on your exam and start preparing for the 20% of the syllabus and neglecting the rest of the course, you will find yourself in deep trouble.

The idea is absurd when you start focusing on the 20% at the cost of neglecting the rest of the 80% areas without going deep into the technicality and subjectivity of the rule. If it still worked for someone, you can call it luck but not a law of nature.

  • Higher Chances of Failure

Focusing on the wrong KPIs and poorly weighing the aspects based on a partial or surface-level understanding of their criticality can easily break your perception of the principle. You are not an academician or student consular, and your conclusions can be full of biases and irrational decisions.

If you fail to weigh the factors correctly and label the least critical and irrelevant factors as 20%, you will suffer sooner or later. Therefore, you cannot rely 100% on this principle just to jump on the bandwagon of adapting it.


The 80/20 Pareto principle is a great tool to improve your productivity and efficiency in your studies. But in light of the disadvantages mentioned above and the Pareto principle examples, it is recommended to take help from your student counselors and subject experts.

If you’re preparing for the FE or the PE exam, for example, it’s better to follow tried and tested preparation tips. Speaking of which, we highly recommend checking out our tips for passing the PE exam and tips to pass the Electrical FE exam blogs.

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