Academic Resource Center

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Concentration

I am easily distracted.
Eliminate your distractions:

Find or create a good study space and do all your studying there.
Don’t try to study when you’re tired or hungry.
Use earplugs if necessary, or if you prefer, relaxing instrumental music.
If your computer or cell phone is a distracter, turn it off.
Write down intrusive thoughts on a “worry pad” and deal with them later.

My mind wanders when I read.
Become an active reader:

Have a purpose for reading.
Generate questions and read to find the answers.
Highlight, underline, or annotate important information.
Pause periodically to reflect and review.
Recognize your attentional limits – get up and move at least every hour.

I can’t find time to study.
Learn to manage your time:

Use a calendar and a planner regularly.
Learn to say “no” when necessary.
Take advantage of in-between times to plan or review.

I procrastinate.
Make a plan and set a goal:

Read your syllabi at the start of the semester.
Keep (and use) a planner or to-do list – it feels great to check things off.
Break long assignments into smaller, manageable parts.
Get help if you need it.
Reward yourself for completing work.

My mind goes blank on tests.
Reduce test anxiety:

Be prepared – don’t cram the night before the test.
Use positive, not negative, self-talk.
Keep moving through the test – don’t get bogged down on one question.
Breathe slowly and deeply.

From Carol Kanar’s The Confident Student, 3rd Edition, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.