Staying focused while studying: Improve your concentration

Frank Healy Licensed Professional Counselor, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory Associates For Life Enhancement

When you go to college, whether you live on campus or commute from home, there are many distractions that can impede your concentration on studies. The list includes school activities, social life, relationships, jobs, homesickness, and the pressures to get good grades. This article gives you tips on what to do and what not to do to improve your focus.


Do

Do take some deep breaths when you sit down to study, to clear your head

Most college students are juggling their schoolwork with work, school activities, social life, and relationships. When it is time to study you need to remind yourself that your work is all that you are going to think about for the designated time that you study.

Do keep your mind focused

If you start daydreaming or get distracted, gently remind yourself that it’s study time. Everyone’s mind tend to wander at times, so just remind yourself that that is what minds do. Just bring yourself back to the studying.

Do designate a quiet place to study

It helps to study in the same place and at the same time each day if you are able to do it. If the dorm or the fraternity/sorority house is too noisy, go the the campus library or another place where it will be quiet.

Do budget your time so you will have enough time to study each subject

A general rule is that you should take the amount of time you spend in a class and multiply it by three. That should be the time you spend studying for each class. Naturally you will spend more than that when you have a test coming, finals, or a project due. After the test or project you will spend less time, but classroom time times three should be the ballpark average.

Do know immediately before bed is the best time to study for a test

If studying is your last activity of the day you will retain more information the next day than if you distracted yourself with TV, Facebook, a video game or any other distractor. The last thing you think about in the day stays with you overnight because the brain has the whole night to process it.


Don't

Do not compare yourself to others

There is no need to evaluate how you are doing or compare your performance to others. When I taught college students who struggled, they told me that they would get so aggravated that they would want to throw the book across the room. Typically this started when they read a paragraph and realized they had no idea what they just read. Then the aggravation built. The problem with that is that they thought about how they were faring. Consequentially, they were not focusing on the material and it led to frustration and poorer performance. The best way is to clear your head, as stated in the first do. Additionally, don’t get down on yourself if you have to read the material more than once to fully understand what is going on.

Do not party before the test

Parties, ballgames and concerts are for after the test and project. When I was in college, other students used to brag that they drank at a party, went to a major league baseball game, or a concert the night before a test and still got an A on the test. I never believed any of it. You need to focus on the test and have minimal stimulation and distraction while studying.

Do not be in a different state of health and mind when you take the test versus when you studied

There is a principle called State Dependent Memory. It is based on the idea that you remember something better when you feel the same way as you did when you learned it. For example, some students pull an all nighter two nights before a test and then get a good rest the night before. While this might seem like common sense, you would fare better to cram the night before because then you would be tired when you take the test and tired when you study. Doing this will give your brain more cues to remember the information.

Do not multitask

Multitasking is a myth. When you study you should not be doing other things at the same time. Most people who multitask do not do any of the tasks as well as they would if they did it one at a time. Even if you have a short attention span and ADHD divide your time up with each subject, maybe a half hour on each subject but don’t move things on your desk or have your cell phone with you when you study.

Do not forget to also have a social life

Although studying is important, don’t make it the only thing you do. It is important to have a well rounded life. Although studying is important you should not forgo social life, school activities and fun because studying is the only thing that matters. The most successful people have social lives and activities in addition to their work.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

College can be a challenging time. There are things you can do that help you fare better in school and things which do not help. This article gives you the tools to use and the habits to avoid to be a good student.


More expert advice about Undergraduate Programs

Photo Credits: Ammentorp/bgistock.com; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Frank HealyLicensed Professional Counselor, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory

Frank Healy is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of New Jersey. He counsels people with depression and anxiety. He has Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. He remembers every day of his life since he was six years old. This incl...

View Full ProfileRecent Articles