Careers & Education

How to concentrate on studying

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The ability to concentrate on studying is easy for some and not for others

The big test is coming up. It will either make you or break you. Your grade going into the final isnít that good; however, it can be resurrected if you ace the test. You sit down to study and suddenly you find yourself gazing off, distracted by anything and everything. Try as you might you can not concentrate on your studies.

Concentration is the ability to direct your thinking and focus on the task at hand, ignoring any and all distractions. Easy to do? Not for some people.

Setting the scenario for a successful study session starts with finding a place in your home or dorm that is your dedicated study space. Do not bring your cell phone with you or anything that is going to distract you. You can go so far as to put up a sign that says DO NOT DISTURB.

You will need a table, chair, the proper lighting and your school materials (books, notebooks, highlighters, calculator, etc.)

If you like background music and it is not a distraction, fine, but there are those who cannot stand to have music playing (or the television blaring) because it is a total distraction.

Figure out when your energy is at its highest. Some people study and concentrate better in the mornings while others hit their stride at night. If you know that you have an exam at 8 a.m. the next day and you are not at peak study performance at night, then you should study the morning before the test, not the night before.

Study Guides and Strategies advises that you try a very simple strategy, which works for many. When you find yourself becoming distracted, your thoughts are wandering or racing and you are not concentrating on your school work, remind yourself to "Be here now!" This means that you are commanding your focus to return to the work at hand: studying.

A technique that may work for you if you have a lot of reading to do is called the SQ3R reading method. SQ3R means: survey, question, read, recite and review. Before you start reading, survey the chapter including the headings, subheading, title, pictures, charts, maps and graphs and the summary and beginning and ending paragraphs of the chapter.

While you are surveying, question everything that you see. Ask yourself, "What did the professor say about this chapter?" Ask yourself why this chapter is important and what you should remember?

When you start reading, try to find answers to the questions that you posed to yourself earlier. Pay particular attention to the words that are in bold, italicized or underlined.

After you have read a chapter, start talking to yourself. Ask yourself questions about what you have just read. Take notes. Highlight important passages in the book. Use your senses to concentrate and recall. See it, say it, hear it and write it.

When you write something down, it is going to be easier to remember. Write questions in the margin. Say out loud the answers to questions. Making flash cards may help you. Create a mnemonic device for remembering things that have to be memorized.

Mnemonics is a way to remember information. Mnemonics rely on making associations between things that are easy to remember which you then relate to the data that you are supposed to remember. For example, the keys on the piano: EGBDF. This can be remembered by recalling: Every good boy deserves friends.

Keep working on the process of maintaining your concentration. Eventually, through trial and error, you will find out what works for you and what doesn't.

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