Published by the Counseling and Development Unit, SSSD UTP (Issue 3)
Prepared by Hj. Abdul Jalil bin Abdullah
Study Skills – Concentration
What is concentration?
When concentrating fully you are so absorbed in what you are doing you are unaware of time passing or of what is going on around you.…The length of time for which you can concentrate fully depends on factors such as your enthusiasm for what you are doing, your skill at a particular task, your emotional and physical state, and your surroundings at the time.
Source: Marshall, L. and Rowland, F. (1998) A Guide to Learning Independently. p. 23)
What are the different kinds of concentration?
There are two types of concentration:
· Immediate concentration that allows you to observe the world around you at every moment.
· Prolonged concentration that allows you to read, learn and think.
Studying requires you to work with your prolonged or long-term concentration. In other words, you have to minimize the attention you pay to what’s going on around you and instead focus on the task at hand.
By improving your concentration, you can:
· Maintain a higher level of attention.
· Be more efficient when studying.
· Remember what you have learned.
How can you improve your concentration in class, at home and during exams?
· Pay close attention to your professor.
· Take good notes.
· Ask questions and actively participate in discussions.
· Create a working environment that is comfortable and adapted to your needs.
· Organize your time. Set aside regular study times (with breaks and rewards).
· Establish a routine: Create for yourself a convenient ritual before getting to work (for example, put some comfortable clothes on and make yourself a snack). This routine will become a conditioned reflex that tells your brain to prepare for work.
· Reduce your stress by establishing better working conditions.
· Avoid sitting near windows and limit outside distractions.
· Avoid sitting beside people who work much faster than you—their pace may discourage you.
· Bring all the materials you need (pens, books, calculators—if authorized—and a snack if you need it).
10 Tips for improving study concentration:
· Study in a quiet place that is free from distractions and interruptions. Try to create a space designated solely for studying.
· Make a study schedule that shows what tasks you need to accomplish and when you plan to accomplish each task. This will provide you with the structure you need for effective studying.
· Try to study at the time of day you work best. Some people work well early in the morning, others late at night. You know what works best for you.
· Make sure you are not tired and/or hungry when you study. Otherwise, you won't have the energy you need to concentrate. Also, maintain your physical fitness.
· Don't try to do two tasks at the same time. You won't be able to concentrate on either one very well. Concentration means focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all else.
· Break large tasks into series of smaller tasks that you can complete one at a time. If you try to complete a large task all at once, you may feel overwhelmed and will be unable to maintain your concentration.
· Relax. It's hard to concentrate when you're tense. It's important to relax when working on a task that requires concentration. Meditation is helpful to many students.
· Clear your mind of worrisome thoughts. Mental poise is important for concentration. You can get distracted by your own thoughts. Monitor your thoughts and prevent yourself from following any that take you off track. Don't daydream.
· Develop an interest in what you are studying. Try to relate what you are studying to you own life to make it as meaningful as possible. This can motivate yourself to concentrate.
· Take breaks whenever you feel fatigued. There is no set formula for when to take breaks. You will know when you need to take a break.
Studying without concentration is like trying to fill a bucket with water when the bucket has a hole in its bottom. It doesn't work.