Exams are scary. It gives you nightmares and sweat breaks. (Nodding)
The fear of being judged is pouncing inside your head, even now. Sometimes, you feel like studying for the sake of exams, but most of the time, you feel the heat. You just don’t want to open the book.
In a world full of delightful distractions, it becomes really hard to focus on studies for exams. You feel the need to sway away from distractions, but are never able to.
A bundle of books and notes, encyclopedias to cram and the sight of your marks on the notice board haunts you day and night.
And the worst part, there is nothing much to do rather than sit and study. Every night begins with a promise to study the next day and the next day…You know well what happens.
You search for medicines to sharpen your memory and concentration. No effect. You browse the web for answers about the perfect focus plan. Still the same. You find nothing that can help you understand the study material, within one shot.
But the good news is,
You can kick all distractions and focus on studying like a topper (and get grades like a topper). Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to study for 25 hours out of 24 hours. Poor Maths. Duh!!
What will happen if you go to a 80% from 50%?
Sounds amazing. Isn’t it?
The wait is over. Here is your cheat sheet, the complete guide to focus on studies for exams and nail it completely.
It’s a bit long, so grab your cup of coffee and become stuck to unstoppable in upcoming exams. So,
How to focus on studies for exams?
#1: Make a Realistic Schedule
Old Strategy- Put more hours, get more marks
What really works,
Put in less hours, but master the content you study. If your study schedules say,
‘Study Maths for an hour’.
You need to change it now, with immediate effect.
Instead of counting the number of hours, set a target to finish within a time frame.
Don’t worry. Minor adjustments are never a crime.
New Strategy- “I will finish the algebra exercise today in 3 hours”.
Once you adapt the strategy and come up with a realistic schedule, the job is half done.
#2: The Day Bird Or Night Owl
The never ending discussion, once again. You say the mind is fresh in the morning. Your friend says, this studying thing can be taken care of only during the night.
You get confused whether you are hampering your productivity, by choosing the wrong hours.
The Pro tip– Study anytime you like. Just Stick to it.
It doesn’t matter if you are the day bird or a night owl, until you finish off what you have taken for studying.
Just stick to the time every day. It enhances focus and has been tried and tested. So, make merry during the day hours and study at night or vice-verse. It’s your choice.
#3: Start Early
#1 and #2 are completely waste, if you don’t start early. You procrastinate on studies, every single day.
When the platter gets full, you try to eat it at once. And what happens?
Instead of breaking your ass off during exams, make sure you just go through your class notes every day (even while watching TV, doesn’t matter).
When you cut on sleeping hours during exams, you are vulnerable to recall information during the exam. Nothing worse can happen except it.
#4: Gather Books and Notes
It feels ugly to attend that 2 hour lecture. Actually, you feel bored and sleepy. The simple way,
You bunk the classes. Fair enough. The easy escape.
I won’t suggest you to attend every single class. But, it is time you start attending some. If you pay the slightest of attention in class, take notes; then you are paving the path to a better focus.
It’s wise to digest information in chunks every day, rather than gulping it all in a single day.
Still not possible to attend classes?
Make sure you complete your notes with your friends.
#5: Choose the Right Environment
Here right environment is, a place which is away from all distractions and noiseless. It could be your home or a public library or a college ground too.
It’s your take. If you don’t feel like studying at home, opt for a library or a friend’s home for a joint study.
Make sure you aren’t disturbed every 5 minutes for household chores.
A small clarification about Joint Study,
What is Joint Study?
Is it just sitting together and start studying??
Absolutely, Not. There could be two or more people in a joint study session, but it ought to be meaningful for all.
It gives a chance to clarify on doubts and develop skills, which a person is weak at and the other is strong at.
Just study a common topic, write your doubts in a diary and at the end of the session, Discuss.
Discuss strengths, weak points and actions to rectify them. Don’t feel ashamed of weak ones, they will help you sky rocket your grades once you get over them.
Image Courtesy of Lewis Hine at Wikimedia Commons
#6: Bed Is For Sleeping
It’s a biggie. You study on bed because it feels cozy and comfortable. You tend to lie down at times and even doze off.
And then say you can’t focus…
Use your bed, strictly for sleeping or taking rest. You aren’t on rest when you study. Right??
Go and buy a study table. Sit on the mat and use it for studying.
“The Bed is for sleeping, a table is for studying”.
#7: Stationary and Material First
The focus is like an unbroken string. You should be able to stretch it, for optimum results.
Once you start studying, make sure you don’t get up to fetch additional study materials or stationary like pen, pencil, eraser etc etc.
The only exception being nature’s call.
Make sure you gather all the prerequisites for studying, so that your focus is unmoved. If you need to sway away from distractions, refer #5.
#8: Stop being a miser on dim bulbs
It would cost your eyes.
Yeah, it’s true. Go buy a fluorescent lamp or a CFL that could illuminate your book. Studying in the dark will put strain on your eyes and diminish your focus too.
Trust me. It is proven, scientifically.
#9: Be Choosy On Snacks
Your body requires energy to focus on studies. Pizza and junk food won’t give any. They are just calorie providers.
When you are hungry, you run to the kitchen and stuff your mouth with anything you get. These mostly include sugary foods.
Its time to stop.
Healthy Substitutes- Sprouted Beans, Oat meal, Fresh Fruits, Salads, Fruit and Vegetable Juice, High fiber Cookies and Lemon Juice.
These foods will energize you and prepare you for the hunger attack, which could hamper your focus.
#10: Say Bye to Mobile and Internet
Whistle!! You have a Message.
Oh, You have got a call.
Throw it away, right now.
You have the habit to check your phone every now and then. Don’t you think it needs some rest too, being a gadget??
Surrender your phone until your study session is over. If it’s damn important, you will get a call.
Ask them straightway, if it is that important or just tell them politely, “I will ring you back later. Bye. Take care.”
Lesser the distractions, bigger the focus.
#11: Learn to Schedule Breaks
There are two things, Break and Over Break.
You just know the latter one. Ideally, you should take a break every 1 hour for 10-15 minutes (non-negotiable).
But, it gets extended to 30-45 minutes.
It kills time. It murders focus. Set an alarm every hour, so that you could know the break time.
Schedule two alarms,
One- Break Start
Two- Break Over
Pro-Tip: You can check your phone during break or better take a deep breath. Make yourself believe that you did a great job.
#12: Find A Motivation
Whatever we do, we are always trying to achieve a goal. A milestone. That kick keeps us moving through.
Studies are no different. If you don’t like it, find a good reason behind it and see the difference.
A sample- I will buy a nice watch or shoes if I focus well this week. I can buy a chocolate as well (or anything you like)
Smart Tip: Make your elder brother/sister or parents pay for it. A nice reward. Isn’t it?
#13: Record TV
This one really hurts. When you have to sacrifice Prison Break for studies. Isn’t it??
Don’t Worry. Record the show and watch it later. If this isn’t possible, stream it on the web. The show won’t run away. You can always watch it later.
If you aren’t able to compromise, study in advance and enjoy the show. Fair enough??
#14: Switch Subjects
It might be possible that you need to study different subjects. A subject might require cramming, understanding or a mixture of both.
How to balance each component?
The answer is, you need to sense your requirement. Don’t stick to the same nature for prolonged hours. You will gradually lose interest and doze off. Absolutely useless.
What to do instead?
Cram for One hour. Understand the next. Cram and Understand the next. Repeat the same cycle. It would not only avoid boredom, but will allow you to study with a better focus. The results will speak for you.
#15: Use Mnemonics
Rote learning sucks. It won’t go to your long term memory. It can ditch you anytime during the exams.
Mnemonics are the best learning boosters. If you could relate to what you study, you could always recall it later.
Suppose you need to learn pen, book, paper, write in the same sequence and you just cram; you will fail for sure.
Try this- I took a pen. Opened the book. Wrote on the paper.
Make notes and paste them on your wall. Just a glimpse of it will help you retain it for longer.
#16: Avoid Multiple resources at a time
The burning question.
Where should I study from?
Books?? Class Notes?? Reference Books??
You get overwhelmed seeing the information demanding your attention.
Focus on just one source at a time. If you opt for notes, make sure you finish them first before picking up the book or other reference material.
It will help you focus and give a sense of accomplishment for finishing the whole thing, before moving to the next.
#17: A doubt book
Even a topper has doubts. Times will come, when your mind will boggle. You can’t understand everything in one go.
It’s a fact.
What to do when you are confused or doubtful about a concept?
Jot it down in a notebook. I call it “The Doubt Register”. You can write the actual doubt you have or the page number where you got stuck while studying.
How the “Doubt Register” Works?
During a study session, we come across tricky concepts. Later on, we don’t pay heed to them and skip the topic.
The same concept is asked in the exam and you feel like banging your head.
Spare the regret. Go purchase the “The Doubt Register” and clarify them with your friends or teachers. Don’t be afraid of your mistakes. Make every mistake before the exam, so that you find no excuse later.
#18: Use Bookmarks
You study. Closed the book and went to sleep.
You have no idea what page or section you were reading and it’s a 1000 page book. You start turning down the pages, investigating like Sherlock Holmes.
Immense Frustration. Half focus gone.
How can you spare the pain?
Learn to use bookmarks. Once you get used to it, it will allow you to plan your study session wisely keeping you organized.
You won’t have to scramble pages and waste time every day.
#19: Rely On Visual Aid
Fact- You retain 70-80% of what you see and 60-70 % of what you hear. Only 40-45% is retained when you read plain text.
Add some flavor to your study. Use podcast, videos and plenty of diagrammatic expressions. It will help you learn better.
You won’t get bored and it will power hack your productivity every time you study.
#20: The Forget Register
There are concepts you know. But there are times, when you forget a particular concept governing a question or problem. It just pops out of your memory, every day.
Pro tip- Buy a notebook and name it as “The Forget Register”. Whenever you feel a concept is hard to remember or you may find it difficult recalling it later, note it down there.
Make it a habit to browse the register once, every day. A time will come; when you will be able to remember every little detail which your counterparts can’t.
My Story- I used to get stuck on a particular concept in Calculus. Howsoever hard I try, my mind used to ditch me whenever that concept needs to be applied.
I thought it will be easy to reciprocate in exams. Unfortunately, that concept was asked for 10 marks and I couldn’t recall it.
That is when the idea of a forget register struck and I am maintaining it till date.
There is a very thin line between intelligence and diligence.
The intelligent says, “I know”.
And the diligent, “Even if I don’t know, I have the will to know”.
There is no shortcut to success in exams. There is no focus tonic as well. Change takes time.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day” (Cliche). I know you hate cliches, but it is true.
You can start now and in a month or two, you will notice the results. Don’t expect anything overnight.
Stop getting paralyzed seeing the other’s preparation.
How does it matter? Are you going to write their exam or their grades going to be yours?
What you were yesterday and what progress you made today. It is the only thing that matters.
So, pull up your socks and start studying for your exams. Study hard, but smart.
Time for Pen and paper now,
Are there some other obstacles which hinder your focus?
What is that one technique which you liked the most? Do you have some awesome techniques to study for our readers.
Share it in the comments section and have a Great Life Ahead.
Every ‘I’ is a great life in itself. Stop comparing, start exploring.