How to improve concentration in studies
Concentrate!! Enjoy your studies!! Excel in exams!!
How not to study?
Do you remember yourself reading sentences after sentences of your books, but without
actually concentrating on it? That is called a casual reading. A casual reading through the books
doesn't help much. That is because, the concepts just pass by the mind, without being able to
associate themselves with your understanding, or your memory. But the time that you spend in
such casual reading never comes back. Moreover, it is boring. Study without concentration is an
utter waste of time and energy. Avoid it.
The secret of concentration
There is no big tricks to develop concentration. If you want to improve your concentration in
studies, you just need to enjoy what you read. There are books teaching you meditation, etc
that claim to improve your concentration. I have tried a few of them, but personally I feel that
the claims are over exaggerated by the authors. I discovered a simple technique that simply
works wonder for me. I benefited immensely from the technique, and now I want you to benefit
from the secret. The secret to concentration is being able to develop interest in the subject.
How to develop interest in the subject?
Simply stating, information is not at all interesting. But most curriculum books just provide
information. Even intellectual concepts are presented as if they are information. That is the
reason why curricular books are so often dreaded by students. But information becomes
interesting when we discover the underlying concepts in them. So if you want to make your
study hours interesting, try to discover the concepts yourself. Do not just believe what is said in
the book. Let whatever you have to learn, be learnt not just as information, but as concepts that
YOU have re-discovered.
Make separate self study note book for each subject.
When you sit to study a subject, do not forget to be ready with your self study notes and pens(at
least 2 colors).
With each line you read from the book, make questions, as if you are going to make a tough
question paper in that subject. This will force you to concentrate on the subjects.
Note down the questions in one color and the answers in another. But write the answers from
your understanding, in your own words. Don’t copy paste from book.
The tougher the questions you have made, the better you have concentrated. And the longer
you are going to remember what you have learnt.
The most important thing is this: REVISE your notes. This would hardly take 5 minutes for every
hour you have spent in making the question and answers. If you miss to revise, then the extra
effort that you have put to make the notes will simply be wasted. But every revision will pay
back at least 10 times of what you have invested.
Solve examples and exercise questions. You will be surprised to see that you are able to solve
most of them.
Jolt down what all you want to revise in a particular study session.
Assign the time that you can afford to spend on each topic of revision.
Open your self study notes. But don’t just read through all that you have written, else your mind
will start wondering, day dreaming, etc.
Read only the questions. Hide the answers. Try to recall the answer you have written. Check
If you are able to think some new questions and answers in your mind, add them to your notes.
When to revise?
Every day night, before sleep, revise all that you have noted down in your notes.
Every weekend, revise all that you have noted down during the week.
Before the exam, all that is needed for the exam.
If you have genuinely followed up to this, congratulations!!! You have noted down your success,
and before the exam, when everyone else will be cramming, you are revising your success as a
The source :
Best types of studying
Some key study skills include:
Removing distractions and improving concentration
Maintaining a balance between homework and other activities
Reducing stress, such as that caused by test anxiety
Subject-specific study strategies
Preparing for exams
Talking to other students
Maintaining a balance between studying and other activities
Many students find it hard to start working or work for too long when they do. If one finds
himself avoiding starting work or seemingly finding ways out of studying then he should try to
start studying for short periods of 10-15 minutes on a regular basis. This, if done properly, can
help ease one into interrupting your normal daily routine enough to actually get some work
done. When one finds that one can sit and concentrate (which are skills that need to be warmed
up by this process as well) for longer periods then changing to a full study routine is possible.
If one finds that one studies for too long then it can seem much more of a chore than it really
has to be. Even students who really enjoy their subject can end up resenting the amount of work
they have to do if they fall into ineffective study patterns. If this happens one may begin to fall
into the avoiding-starting-to-study pattern.
A realistic study pattern (although it is better to find your own personal pattern) is that of a
designated 2 hour session with a 5 minute break every half hour. During the 5 minutes be
mindful to get away from the studying and do something that is both relaxing and different e.g.
get a breath of fresh air or a drink of water. Make sure that you end the 2 hour session whether
you have completed what you have been studying or not and commit to return to that point in
the next 2 hour session.
In between sessions try to do something you enjoy or something new and refreshing. It is
sometimes easy to view times of study as mundane but they can also be times where you try
new experiences and be creative. At first it may seem a little hard to think of things that you
don't normally do and might enjoy and it is different for everyone. Some examples may include
going to the park, watching a DVD, painting a picture, going to a museum, meeting friends (but
preferably not talking about study), learning a musical instrument, watching a sporting event
that you do not normally attend, reading a novel, playing a new sport, etc... It is important to
attempt to change a revision period to a time where you are choosing to experience new things
as well as choosing to learn new things, which is a much more positive way to approach studying
Preparing for exams
Preparing for an exam requires a good understanding of what is expected of you, a rigid work-
life balance than maximizes your energy and strengths, a certain amount of self discipline, and a
set of study skills that are effective, varied, and interesting.
It is a basic premise that the more that you use information (read it, speak about it, draw it,
write it, use it etc...) the more you remember and the longer you will remember it.
The PQRST Method
The method that many students who like to add an overt structure to their learning to keep
them on track is the PQRST method. It helps the student focus on studying and prioritizing the
information in a way that relates directly to how they will be asked to use that information in an
exam. The method can also be modified to suit any particular form of learning in most subjects.
It can also allow more accurate timing of work so instead of having to decide how much time to
attribute to one whole topic you can decide how long it might take to preview the material and
then each step after that.
Preview: Look at the topic you have to learn by glancing over the major headings or the points in
Question: Formulate questions that you would like to be able to answer once you have finished
the topic. It is important that you match as much as possible what you would like to know to
your syllabus or course direction. This allows a certain flexibility to take in other topics that may
aid your learning of the main point or if you are just interested. Make sure that your questions
are neither more specific or more open-ended than they might be in an exam.
Read: Read through your reference material that relates to the topic you want to learn for your
exam being mindful to pick out the information that best relates to the questions you wish to
Summary: This is the most flexible part of the method and allows individual students to bring
any ways that they used to summarize information into the process. This can include making
written notes, spider diagrams, flow diagrams, labeled diagrams, mnemonics, making a voice
recording of you summarizing the topic, or any method that feels most appropriate for what has
to be learned. You can combine several methods as long as this doesn't extend the process too
long as you may lose sight that you are merely seeking to use the information in the most
Test: Use this step to assess whether you have focused on the important information and stayed
on topic. Answer the questions that you set for yourself in the Question section as fully as you
can as this using of the information is another way of using the information and remembering
more of it. This section also reminds you to continually manipulate the information so that is
focused on whatever form of assessment that it is needed for. It is sometimes easy to lose sight
of the point of learning and see it as a task to be completed mundanely. Try to avoid adding
questions that you didn't formulate in the Q section.
This is time consuming, but probably one of the cheapest and most effective ways of studying.
There are two types of information that can be written over again: notes taken in class, or
information out of a text book. If you're going to re-write notes that were taken from class, then
you're ready whenever you have the time: just get out your notebook, pen and extra paper and
begin to re-write. If you're going to re-write parts of a chapter from a book, the best way to go
about it is: Highlight all the important information in the chapter. This makes re-writing quicker.
Next, re-write the information that you've highlighted. This is good for students who don't
retain information well from lecture classes.
Once you’re finished, the next step is one of the following: Write the notes again. If you can find
time to re-write your notes at least twice, you’ll have a better chance of remembering. More
than twice is even better, but it’s hard to find time for that. The other option is to make
flashcards or mock test questions (both techniques are listed in this entry).
Every student will have summary methods that are individual to them as the subjects they are
using them for. It is important to vary your summary skills set and not get stuck on one method
that you have always done and have had success with. Some methods are better suited to
different subjects and tasks, e.g. mnemonics may fare better for learning lists or facts while
spider diagrams better for linking concepts.
Mnemonics: This is a very old method of memorizing lists and organising them. As they are
often funny, rude, or explicit, they are sometimes not seen as the creative and effective memory
devices that actually aids the process of categorising information that occurs in the brain when
trying to remember new facts by linking them to an event, word, or location.
Example 1: A simple childhood mnemonic is used for learning the points of the compass. Never
Eat Shredded Wheat reminds us not only of the points of the compass but in the order they
occur when encountered clockwise.
Example 2: Unlike elephants and compasses the best mnenomics actually relate directly to what
it is that has to be learnt. A medical example of this is related to the four muscles surrounding
the shoulder (the mnemonic taken from the first letter of each muscle givens SITS) and it is said
that anyone hurting these muscles SITS out from sports or other activities. Given context the
mnemonic itself is more useful as a memory tool despite also reminding you of the names of the
muscles, the order in which they are located and so on.
The best menomics are generally personal ones that you generate at the point of learning and if
possible are arranged to be in context. You can also use the imagery created e.g. an elephant
with a compass in the first example, to remember the information more as images and stories in
a method often praised by people who teach people to improve their memory.
Spider diagrams: Using spider diagrams or mind maps can be an effective way of linking
concepts together. They are incredibly useful for planning essays and essays in exams. They can
also be useful for linking loosely related chains of facts and make them form a more solid
narrative of connected information. There are many books available that built on spider
diagrams or mind maps as an effective summary tool used in all parts of modern life.
Diagrams: Diagrams are often underrated tools. They can be used to bring all the information
together and give you practice at reorganizing what you have learned in order to produce
something practical and useful. They can also remind you of information you have learned very
quickly particularly if you made the diagram yourself at the time that you learned the
information. Try buying a notebook with no lines and make a sketch, diagram, or pictogram of
the information you have just learned. This could form part of the Summary part of the PQRST
method or in any other way. These pictures can then be transferred to flash cards that are very
effective last minute revision tools rather than rereading any written material.
FlashCards (A5 index cards): These are effective revision tools but students often set out to
make them and they become more of a chore. It is much more effective to make cards at the
time that you are revising. If these cards are made during the summary part of the PQRST
method then are directly associated with what you learned. The cards are less effective when
students set out to make them late in a revision cycle merely as tools to look at during the 20-30
minutes before an exam. The cards are indeed useful for last minute reading as they offer
nothing new and therefore is more likely to focus on what you know and not alert you to
something you don't know so well.
Hybridize all of the above: Since each of the above methods is proven to improve study
outcomes, it makes sense that the ideal should be to do all of the above at once. Checkout study
software generally for this approach where a hybrid of the above is emphasized.
Some students find the topics that they are revising overwhelming and seemingly endless.
Although the PQRST method can help maintain your focus on the whole point of learning the
large topic in the first place there are other methods that help facilitate your learning.
If you break a large topic in a series of smaller topics that can be defined as a size of material
that takes less than 10 minutes each to complete. Even the largest project or topic can be
broken down into these bitesize sections. The important part comes in regarding the series of
smaller 10 minutes as adding up to the whole topic and that it is finished.
This system can be drawn as a pyramid with topics requiring incrementally more time on each
level. So if you decided that you needed to break it into 20 minute segments then you could
place 10 minute and 5 minute topics on lower levels of the pyramid that mount up to the whole
topic at the apex of the pyramid. Starting from the bottom when all the smaller blocks are in the
place then the pyramid is built and the topic finished.
Topic ABCDEFGHIJK Collectively 1.5 hours
Part 1 ABC 20 Minutes
Part 2 DEF 10 Minutes
Part 3 GHI 5 Minutes
Part 4 JK 5 minutes
Something that may have been put or slowed down by the size or important of the topic may be
greatly shortened. Of course you can apply any other study skill such as the PQRST method to
each of the individual parts to help their progression..
It is a common pitfall in studying to set out to learn everything that you have been taught in an
orderly and precise fashion. If time, boredom, and fatigue were not variables that can impact on
your studying and even health then this may always be possible. More normally you will have a
set amount of time (that doesn't encroach on leisure time for any reason) to learn a set amount
of topics. An easy way to separate what is really important to know (likely to constitute the
majority of exam marks) from what you would like to know if you had infinite time and energy is
the traffic light system.
Green: Take a green pen and label or place a star next to everything that is essential to know for
your exam. These topics should be studied first and allow you to progress to the less number of
amber and red topics. These should generally be the first few on a syllabus and be the easiest
concepts to learn but also the easiest to underestimate.
Amber: Take an orange or gold pen and label everything that is neither essential to know or is
not too time consuming to learn. This should form the mainstay of your learning and range from
topics leading from the green range of topics to ones leading to the red range of topics.
Red: Take a red pen and label everything you would want to know if you had all the time and
energy necessary but not at the expense of the essential green topics and desired amber topics.
This would include overly complicated ideas and subjects that may add one or two marks but
may cost you if you focus all your attention just on knowing the more difficult bits and
underestimating the importance of accumulating the green and amber topics first and to a
greater extend. A greater focus on green and amber topics may also lead to topics that seemed
red to become more amber as time goes on.
The color system should remind you that it is easier to get moving on green topics and to be
needlessly stopped and held up by red topics. It is also important to stop amber topics It is also a
healthy reminder to keeping your learning as a progressive experience and never allow it to
stagnate where all topics become more red in nature as you become more tired and bored. An
alternative form of this can be used in which you determine which subjects you need to spend
more time on.