Many students suffer distractions and lack of concentration in studies. Here are the study skills that the students can practice to improve their concentration and attention levels.
Introduction to study skills
Study skills are approaches applied to learning. They are very important for success in school, for attaining good grades, and useful for learning throughout one’s life. Practicing study skills improve performance in school and ability to learn in general. Many students are not achieving up to the mark in examinations simply because they lack study skills.
Individuals learn differently, and have their own style of studying. To get the most out of your studying, it’s important to better understand what works for you, and what doesn’t.
Intervention to improve the study skills
There are a number of techniques to improve the study skills so as to have a better output, especially during the exams. All the necessary virtues of a good study can be trained by practice, which anybody willing to attain can acquire. Let us go through them.
If you’ve ever felt like you have a “short attention span” when you should be focusing on a task, you might be able to benefit from some of these activities. Along with practicing these skills, eliminating distractions, putting an end to multitasking and meditating regularly can have a beneficial influence on attention.
Select appropriate places to study. To maintain attention, study in a room that is free from distractions like noise, windows, and wall hangings. To aid concentration, choose a pleasant environment with appropriate temperatures, adequate ventilation, light and comfortable seats. Try studying in the test room if possible. Eat right and get enough rest. Maintain an optimal level of activity; both too much and too little activity lessens one’s capacity to pay attention and to remember the material.
Managing multiple tasks actually reduces both productivity and accuracy. If you want to make the most out of your attention resources, try focusing on just one task at a time. To be frank, while you do number of things at a time, you are switching your attention continuously from one to another, which could later turn into a habit of being unable to concentrate on a single job for more time.
Mindfulness involves purposely paying attention to things in a particular way, and helps improve your ability to concentrate. To become more mindful, you should always be aware of when your mind wanders. It’s okay though you get it after some time, but as soon as you realize, take control. Try to disengage yourself from the distraction willingly and bring your focus back to the task at hand. This ability can be improved with practice. Understand that your attention is like a muscle of your body, which shall be toned when you work on it.
Meditation helps to focus attention on a single item and ignoring irrelevant items. Meditation decreases the attention blink that we all experience. Attention blink is a brief period of time after we focus on one item, about half a second, where we are unreceptive to secondary stimuli.
Turn off the Technology
Constant distraction presented by technology (mobile phones and television) can actually make it more difficult for any person to focus on activities such as reading for an extended period of time. A student should never study in a room where TV/a video on some device are playing. No distractions should be allowed.
Concentration is the ability to direct your thinking. The practice of concentration is to focus on the task at hand and eliminate distraction. We all have the ability to concentrate sometimes. It is a commonly observed thing that your mind wanders from one thing to another. The thought that bothers you takes you away before you know it. Also, if the reading material is boring, difficult to understand, or if it is not interesting, you cannot concentrate.
Improving your concentration
Before you are going to start, sit in silence for a few minutes and prepare yourself. Clear your mind of all the probable distractions that may disrupt your productivity. Then start engaging in your studies, and concentrate on what you read.
- Make yourself comfortable with a dedicated space, chair, table, lighting and environment.
- Never let your cell phone or telephone present in your room.
- If you have to, don’t hesitate to put up a sign to avoid being disturbed.
- If you are habituated to have a certain kind of background music, then it’s fine. Otherwise, it could be a distraction to hear songs or music around you.
- Make a routine of such study schedule and stick to it.
- Don’t hesitate to have your study time and practice daily to focus on what you read.
- Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to summarize a few objectives, gather what you will need, and think of a general strategy of accomplishment
- Reward yourself with incentives for successfully completing a task, such as calling a friend, a food treat, a walk, etc.
- Change the topics you study for every 1-2 hours for variation.
- Vary your study activities like reading aloud, drawing the procedure while reading (for science related subjects), walking while reciting etc.
- Alternate reading with more active learning exercises
- If you have a lot of reading, try the SQ3R method
- Take regular, scheduled breaks that suits you
Don’t expect yourself to be perfect and stress yourself thinking that you cannot. Just like any practice, there will be ups, levels, and downs in everything. When you notice your thoughts distract, say to yourself “Stay at this moment” and gently bring your attention back to where you want it.
You’re studying and your attention wanders to all the other homework you have, to the fact that you’re hungry. Say to yourself “Stay in this moment”.
Start focusing back on your subject with questions, summarizing, outlining, mapping, etc. and maintain your attention there as long as possible. When it wanders again, repeat “Stay in this moment” and gently bring your attention back, and continue this practice, repeatedly. It will work.
Do not constantly judge your progress. Take it easy on yourself. Good practice is enough to say that you did it, and that you are on the road. The mind is always different and the practice develops over time with many ups and downs.
Keep a worry period
When things enter your mind distracting you by interfering your concentration, set aside a specific time each day to think about them. When you become aware of a distracting thought, remind yourself that you have a special time for this. Keep a worry period to worry or think about those distracting issues. For example, set 4:30 to 5 p.m. as your worry or think period. When your mind is distracted into worrying during the day, remind yourself that you have a special time for worrying in the evening and you can postpone it. Then, let the thought go for the present, and return your focus to your immediate activity.
Make best use of your energy level
Aware when your energy levels are at its highest and lowest. Remember to study your most difficult courses at your high energy times, to concentrate more. If it is early in the morning, Study your most difficult course then. Later in the evening, when you actually cannot concentrate more, work on your easier courses or the ones you enjoy the most.
Most students tend to put off the tough subjects until later in the evening just to postpone the moments and open those books when they become tired. Thus it becomes more difficult for them to concentrate. Reverse that instead. Study hard subjects at peak energy times and the easier ones later. This alone can help to improve your concentration in a better way.
Visualize an exercise before you begin studying
Think of those times when concentration is not a problem for you no matter what situation. Now try to image yourself in that situation. Recall that experience immediately before your studies by placing yourself in that moment. Repeat before each study session.
Keep your entire study equipment close at your study place (e.g., pens, paper, pencil etc.)
When you sit down to study, tell yourself that you intend to study. Break larger tasks into smaller sections in order to complete a large assignment.
If the subject matter in not naturally interesting, find ways to learn it anyway. Some of the techniques could be like
- Pay attention in class.
- Review notes more than once or twice for exams.
- Use mnemonics.
- Use visuals in notes such as sketches, mind maps, diagrams, charts, etc.
- Quiz yourself over material that could appear on future exams and quizzes.
- Organize details to main ideas into numbered or lettered lists.
- Convert text and material into your own words.
- Think about material that could be on exams and quizzes when you are not studying.
- Try to understand material in your notes as opposed to memorizing.
- Try to organize main ideas and details into some logical or meaningful order.
All of these steps help you remember the material very well. Have patience and try willing to succeed.
If you still feel like you need help in focusing and improving your scores, or if you need to have some career counselling, please feel free to approach our psychological consultants, who can help you with some advanced techniques. Book an appointment today.