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How to Focus on Studying

Two Parts:The Do'sThe Don'ts

Studying for any quiz, test, or exam can be both difficult and stressful, and you may find your mind wandering frequently whenever you try. To really focus on studying, find a quiet study place, give your brain the occasional break, and minimize distractions like music and the computer. Following these and other simple strategies should greatly improve your ability to concentrate on your studies.

Part 1
The Do's

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    Find a suitable studying environment. Your bedroom or classroom isn't always the best possible place. Find a nice, quiet place with a large, comfortable chair, like your sitting room, preferably without a television, a computer or a cell phone within your reach.
    • The library is usually a nice place to study because it's quiet. Perhaps your parents' office is another potential location, provided it's quiet and offers few distractions.
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    Collect revision materials before you begin studying. Do not plan to look for pens, highlighters, rulers, etc, in the middle of studying. It can be really distracting at times, so prepare everything you think you need.
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    Find a study partner. Pick someone who is sensible and focused like you are on the same task. Don't always pick your best friend, as you may ruin both your concentrations by chitchatting. Having a study partner is a great idea, as you can bounce ideas off each other, and see things form a different perspective as yourself.
    • Some people find study partners distracting. Chances are if you are an extrovert, meaning you really like other people and love talking, a study partner probably won't be the best option for you. If you are an introvert, meaning you generally keep to yourself and are a bit shier, a study partner might work great for you. However, if you are studying with a very extroverted partner, they will most likely try to talk to you while you are trying to study.
    • Choose someone who is smarter than you. It sounds basic to say, but a lot of people overlook this. If you want to learn, choose a study partner who is smart, dedicated, and doesn't mind teaching. Your study sessions will be a whole lot better.
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    Collect suitable revision snacks. No energy drinks or coffee, because sooner or later, you will crash out. Granola bars, fruit, and water are good, because they are simple and effective at releasing carbohydrates.
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    Take short breaks. After 45 minutes of studying, take a 10 minute break and do something different. Try to get back to your studying after the break; the break shouldn't be longer than 20 minutes.
    • Plan your breaks out with alarms. If your breaks are planned, you're less likely to miss them in the first place, and more importantly, less likely to "accidentally" take more time than is needed.
    • Why take breaks? Your brain needs time to recharge after it processes a bunch of information. In some studies, taking a break and walking around improved memory recall and simple test scores in subjects.[1]
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    Get Motivated. If you do your revision well and prepare for the exam, you will do fine. Get to a point with your revision so you can enjoy the exam when it happens. Do not think that the exam is a big deal, think of it as something to challenge your learning.
    • Set a goal for yourself, even if it's a bit unrealistic. Push yourself to do better than what you think you can do, and who knows, maybe you'll surprise yourself.
    • Motivate yourself with a reward. This takes a bit of self-control, so ask someone in a position of authority to help you out if you need help. Give yourself a reward if you study well, feel prepared, and do well on the test.
    • Tell yourself why studying is important. This is different for each person. Maybe you care about getting that perfect 4.0. Maybe you really care about the subject material. Maybe you made a bet with your dad and you can't stand losing. Whatever it is, remind yourself of why you're working hard and tell yourself it's worth it.
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    Sit down and study. You have everything you need in front of you and there's nothing left to procrastinate with. It's just you and the material. Well? What are you waiting for?
    • Use flash cards and notes to your advantage. Flash cards are helpful for some people, as they contain important information in very little space. Use them if you feel they are helpful for you. Lay them out sequentially, or order them according to a different scheme if you want to give them a little more meaning.
    • Make use of mnemonic tools. "Mnemonic tools" is a fancy word for memorization. Make some information into a funny song, or put the information into an acronym (remember VIBGYOR?) to help you remember what you're trying to remember.
    • Make sure you know the most important information first, and then move onto the rest. Study and understand key concepts before you branch out. This will give you a basic level of understanding to build on.
    • Ask yourself why you are studying, what will be the benefit of studying and write it down on a piece of paper. Every time you get distracted look at the paper and remind yourself why studying is important for you.

Part 2
The Don'ts

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    Don't panic! When you panic, you make mistakes, so keep calm throughout. If you successfully planned your revision, you will have no need to panic when the exam comes. Take a deep breath, tell yourself "I can do this," and cool down.
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    Minimize computer use. Especially the internet. You learn better when you write things out yourself. Also refrain from using your cell phone as you will be replying to texts every minute, which is very distracting.
    • Turn your internet off if you know you'll be tempted. Turn your computer off or ask your friend to hold onto it. Basically, try to ensure that you're not whiling away your time on the Internet when you're supposed to be studying.
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    Don't listen to music unless it helps you study. Some people need music in order to help them study, but try not to give your brain anything else to focus on while you're studying. One more distraction, even if it's calming music, is another thing your brain has to process in addition to the information you're trying to learn.
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    Don't stray off-topic. We all catch ourselves going off-topic from time to time. Sometimes it's because the information we're supposed to learn is boring; sometimes it's because the information we don't need to know is exciting. Whatever it is, wait until after you've studied to really dig deeper and explore different subjects.
    • Always ask yourself: How likely is it that this information will show up on my test? If you're really focused, you can rank the information from the most likely to the least likely, giving the most likely material the majority of your time and the least likely the rest of it.
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    Don't get discouraged. Studying for a test can be daunting, especially in the beginning. Take things in manageable chunks and don't worry about getting things perfect the first time around. Remember, you're here to learn, not necessarily ace a test. Try to understand the "big picture" if you're having trouble understanding the concept. This should make the details easier to understand.


  • Don't think about friends or compare yourself with others. Instead of this think that study is a fantasy and study with your imagination or with curiosity.
  • Remember that grades do not go up on its own and this time that is put to studying affects greatly on your future test or tasks.
  • Try thinking about your parents' happiness after getting a good result.
  • Don't think negative. Think about how happy everyone will be with your result.
  • Never wallow in panic! Instead, focus on the step in front of you, and complete that task. And then go on to the next step. Think positively, and be determined to score a good grade.
  • Do not worry too much. If you're feeling panicky while studying, take a deep breathe, read the notes and try to process & understand the information.
  • Always study at a quiet room.
  • Sleep well and have your day scheduled. Knowing that you have can have a break after an hour, or maybe two hours can motivate yourself to work hard. Working hard makes the time seem to go faster.
  • Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.
  • Make notes. Read a paragraph and either blindly or understand and write down the essential stuff in that para. This will help you to boost memory
  • Take small practice tests on your own once you finish reading a topic.
  • If you feel drowsy or sleepy while studying take a quick nap so that when you wake up your mind is fresh to study and focus. Studying when you are sleepy is not a good idea to stay focused.
  • Set yourself a timetable for your studies and time slots for each subject (e.g. math @ 6:30; English @ 7:30; etc.)
  • Have healthy brain foods to help you focus.
  • Studying in a closed room boosts your productivity and eases any distractions.
  • Imagine how far ahead of you your friends and/or rivals might be. This will help you regain focus!
  • If music helps you study try to get the instrumental versions, That way you don't sing along but still have your favorite song to help you concentrate.
  • Write your goal and hanged on the wall so that you see every day, and study in the morning and you'll smile to your day in order to feel better as the beginning of your day!


  • Don't leave your revision to the last minute. Plan in advance. Just remember, the earlier you start, the less stress you will feel. Always revise when you come home from school every day. Revise your work bit by bit.

Article Info

Categories: Learning Techniques and Student Skills