Self-Help Information: How to Develop Better Concentration When Studying
Think of concentration improvement as a three-step process:
Learn the causes of poor concentration and decide which apply to
Understand what you can do to control these factors.
Make your control habitual. Even if you lapse into old habits of
distraction and daydreaming, keep insisting of yourself that you
concentrate using these controls until you can routinely
concentrate well on your studies for fifty minutes of every
Learn the Causes
Control the Causes
Environmental distractions: TV, chairs that are too
comfortable, snacks, other people, etc.
||Leave or re-arrange a
distracting environment. Go to a library or a classroom when
you seriously intend to study.
||Noise: Music with words,
||Train yourself to study away
from others and in silence.
||Physical distractions: hunger,
||Plan to study when you are most
alert. Eat a high-protein snack. Do five minutes of light
exercise to wake up.
||Boredom, dislike, disinterest
||Find a reason that satisfies
you for taking the class; talk with other students and the
||Anxiety about studies
||Make sure you know how to study
effectively. Put the course in perspective.
||Intimidating study tasks
||Break up large tasks into
achievable subtasks. Do the most intimidating task first.
Give yourself rewards for progress.
||Separate daydreams from
studying. When your mind starts to wander, write down the
interrupting thought and continue studying. Or, recall
important points and then turn away from your book and
continue to daydream. When you're ready to read again, do
so. The trick is not to daydream and read at the same time.
||Identify and define the problem
and develop a concrete, specific plan to resolve personal
worries. Talk with someone who can help: a friend, a
counselor, or a specialist.
The following information is from
www.studygs.net where you can find many useful study aids.
The art or practice of concentration, no matter if studying biology or
playing pool, is to focus on the task at hand and eliminate distraction. We all
have the ability to concentrate -- sometimes. Think of the times when you were
"lost" in something you enjoy. But at other times your mind wanders from one
thing to another. Your worries distract you. Outside distractions take you away
before you know it. The material is boring, difficult, and/or not interesting to
you. These tips may help:
"Here I Study"
Get a dedicated space, chair, table, lighting and environment.
If you like music in the background, OK, but don't let it be a
Stick to a routine, efficient study schedule.
Accommodate your day/nighttime energy levels.
Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to summarize a few
objectives, gather what you will need, and think of a general
strategy of accomplishment.
Incentives and Rewards: Create an incentive or reward for
successfully completing a task, such as calling a friend, a food
treat, a walk, etc.
Change topics: Changing the subject you study every one to two
hours for variety.
Vary your study activities: Alternate reading with more active
Ask yourself how you could increase your activity level while
studying? Perhaps a group will be best? Creating study
Take regular, scheduled breaks that fit you.
Be Here Now
This deceptively simple strategy is probably the most effective.
When you notice your thoughts wandering astray, say to yourself, "Be
here now," and gently bring your attention back to where you want
Worry or Think Time
Research has proven that people who use a worry time find
themselves worrying 35 percent less of the time within four weeks.
Set aside a specific time each day to think about the things that
keep entering your mind and interfering with your concentration.
When you become aware of a distracting thought, remind yourself that
you have a special time to think about them.
Tallying Your Mental Wanderings
Have a 3 x 5-inch card handy. Draw two lines dividing the card
into three sections. Label them "morning," "afternoon," and
"evening." Each time your mind wanders make a tally in the
appropriate section. Keep a card for each day. As your skills build,
you'll see the number of tallies decrease.
Maximize Your Energy Level
When is your energy level at its highest? When are your low
energy times? Study your most difficult courses at your high-energy
As an exercise before you begin studying, think of those times
when concentration is not a problem for you--no matter what
situation. Now try to feel or image yourself in that situation.
Recapture that experience immediately before your studies by placing
yourself in that moment.
Need Additional Help?
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Counseling and Wellness Services offer free individual counseling for these and
related issues for veterinary students (WSU Veterinary Students ONLY). For more
information or to schedule an appointment call or e-mail:
Anne LaFrance, MA, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
135A McCoy Hall
The information contained in these self help
documents is not to be used as a substitute for professional care. Neither the
authors, Washington State University nor the College of Veterinary Medicine
assume liability for injury incurred by following the information presented in
these self-help documents