This information has been gathered through the years and compiled into
this document, which may be used as a handout for students. Each statement
may be turned into a question for students to answer individually or
in groups. Colleagues are welcome to rearrange and edit this information
to best meet the needs of their students.
Concentration is an outcome, a by-product, a result of a series of activities
and behaviors totally under the control of each individual student.
The students must create an environment where concentration can take
- Find A Place That Is Quiet And Will Stay Quiet. Research
is clear that sound interferes with and in some cases prevents learning.
Some of those sounds are most types of music, talking, and intermittent
sounds such as doors opening and closing, noise from roommates, pet
sounds, TV, etc. Beware of egocentric individuals where you live.
Egocentricity means self-centered. An example of an egocentric individual's
behavior goes something like this: when I want to listen to my stereo
so does everyone else within a 2-mile radius. Egocentricity is a child-like
characteristic that many college students have not matured beyond.
In college, the worst place to study is usually where you live.
Remove potential sources of visual and auditory distractions or remove
yourself to a less distracting study environment. All the study skills
in the world won't do much good if students are studying in the wrong
place that interferes with concentration.
- Have Everything You Will Need before you begin to study:
pencils, pens, paper, notes, textbooks, reference books, etc.
- Study In The Same Place As Much As Possible. You will associate
that place with study, which enables you to begin concentrating sooner,
do it more deeply, and get the job of learning done faster. Psychologists
call this a conditioning effect and it speeds learning.
- Study With A Pencil Or Pen In Hand. According to an expert
in concentration, Dr. Pauk, you should study with a pencil or pen
in hand and use it to take notes. The activity of taking notes increases
concentration. Use the Cornell System for lecture notes and the Notecard
System for textbook notes.
- Vary Your Study Activities. If your study style is not to
focus on one subject for a long period, then vary what you do. Read
and take notes for a while, formulate answers and questions for a
time, then recite and review your q & a's to break the monotony.
An example is to do math problems, then take notes from your psychology
text, quiz yourself on the psychology notes, and then go back to math.
- Eat Well Balanced, Regular Meals. Research indicates that
those with healthier diets earn higher grades. Avoid quick uppers
such as sugary snacks because quickly rising and falling blood sugar
levels negatively affect concentration. High fat foods cause sluggishness
and drowsiness. Choose to snack on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Get Plenty of Nighttime Sleep. Fighting sleepiness lowers
concentration. If your living environment prevents sufficient nighttime
sleep, change it. It is your future at stake. College students need
between 7 and 9 hours of nighttime sleep to not hinder learning ability.
- Use A Worry Sheet. Each time you catch yourself worrying
about something, jot it down on a piece of paper. Then do something
about each item as soon as you can. If worrying prevents you from
concentrating, use the expertise of the campus counseling center staff.
They help students with personal concerns daily and may have just
the information and assistance that you need.
- Intend To Cencentrate. Sounds simple. Humans tend to do what
they tell themselves to do. Therefore, it's easier to concentrate
if you set a specific length of time to study and consciously tell
yourself that "I will concentrate" for that length of time.
It is easier to concentrate when there is a beginning and an ending
- Adopt A Proven System For Studying And Learning. An effective
step-by-step plan for studying and learning makes concentration easier.
For example, take main ideas, turn them into questions, and place
them on one side of a notecard. On the other side, use the details
that clarify and explain each main idea as answers for your questions.
Frequently and regularly, look at the questions and practice reciting
answers aloud from memory. Then, turn the notecard over to check your
answer. If right, move on to the next notecard. If wrong, do not move
on until you read the answer aloud and re-quiz yourself until you
get it right. This activity promotes concentration. Reading, and rereading,
and rereading, and rereading does not. If you study by rereading and
rereading and suffer from poor concentration and poor recall, you
This activity also allows to identify what you have learned and what
you have not yet learned before you take a test when you can still
do something about it? When is the best time to see if your parachute
has been packed correctly? Before you jump out of the plane or after?
When is the best time to discover what you have and have not learned?
Before or after a test?
- Take Regular Study Breaks. It is normal for concentration
time to vary individually from 5 minutes, to 20 minutes, to an hour
and on up. Take a short 5-minute break when concentration wanders.
Use the restroom, get a drink of water, look out the window. There
is danger in starting conversations with others during breaks. Many
conversations turn out to be more interesting than the studying at
- Study away from the temptations of your computer such as
email, games, and exploring the Internet. Turn off cell phones when
trying to concentrate. Did you know that people survived before cell
phones when they missed a phone call?
Think of concentration improvement as a 3-step process:
Step 1) Learn the causes of poor concentration and decide which apply
Step 2) Understand what you can do to control them.
Step 3) Apply these controls and make your concentration habitual.
Use the chart below to help you identify sources of distractions and
how to deal with them.
Even if you lapse into old habits of distraction and daydreaming, keep
expecting yourself to concentrate. Use the controls above until you
can routinely concentrate well on your studies. Soon, concentration
will become a habit for you.
Humans become better at that which they practice. If you practice not
concentrating, you will become better at that, also.
Questions or comments? Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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