You are on page 1of 15

Exam Preparation Tips

For many people, exam time is the most stressful part of the school year. With so much riding on the outcome, there can be a high degree of pressure to perform well. Here are some exam preparation tips to help you excel in school.

Getting Started
The earlier you start, the more time you will have to prepare for the exam. You don't have to wait until exam time approaches; try to set the stage from the beginning of the course by reviewing the material after each class. By starting early and studying on a regular basis, you will have a better opportunity to absorb the information and life will be a lot easier when it's time to put it all together for the exam. Make sure all of your course material is well organized so you can find and fill any gaps. If you miss any classes, get the notes from your friends right away instead of scrambling at the last minute. Proper organization will help you to get a better picture of the material that has to be covered and improve the flow of the study process.

Creating a Study Plan

As the exam nears, you will need to create a plan to help you study effectively and minimize stress. The first step is to figure out how much time and effort you must dedicate to studying for the exam by asking the following questions: How much material do you need to cover? How difficult is the material? How much time is available? Do you have any other priorities during the study period? What is the format of the exam? How important is the exam? What is your performance target for the exam?

To prepare the study plan, map out all of the material that has to be covered and make a schedule showing what, when and how much you will study each day. If you have kept up with the course work, studying will involve revision of the material that you have already covered. If you are behind in the course, you will have to finish the readings and other uncompleted work before starting the revision (if there isn't enough time to go over everything, you must decide what is most important for the exam). Here are some tips to follow in creating your study plan: budget your time realistically; allocate the study time into several manageable study sessions; divide the course material into small segments and assign them to the study sessions; set clear and specific goals for the study sessions; prioritize to ensure that material weighted more heavily in the exam gets sufficient study time; take into account your familiarity with the material and the difficulty level; don't make the study sessions too long; study sessions should have enough variety in terms of topics and activities to prevent boredom and loss of effectiveness; avoid cramming before the exam; and don't forget to include regular breaks.

Studying for the Exam

You are now armed with a plan and ready to start studying for the exam. Try to study in a location where you can concentrate and won't be interrupted. You can work with others or join a study group if you find it helpful, but be careful to keep it from turning into an inefficient use of your time. Some proven study tools and techniques are listed below - people respond to different learning styles, so use what works for you. Revising with Summary Notes Make a condensed version of your readings and class notes by creating summary notes. Pinpoint the key terms and concepts and make sure that you understand them. You can identify key terms and concepts by paying attention to what has been emphasized in your classes, textbooks and course syllabus. For example, if a particular topic has taken up a lot of time in the classroom, it is more likely to be on the exam and you should have a good understanding of it. The process of making summary notes can help you to retain more information. By writing the information thoughtfully instead of just seeing it, you can develop a greater perception of the material. To take this further, activate your other senses: you can recite the summary notes aloud, and even record and listen to them. Memorizing with Flashcards Flashcards (or "index cards") are a good memorization tool. Reduce your summary notes into bullet points, keywords, lists, formulas and diagrams and place them onto a card for each topic. (Some people like to use flashcards to prepare their summary notes in the first place, while others find that it leads to information overload.) The items on the flashcards act as memory triggers. By memorizing the flashcards you can enhance your ability to recall larger bits of information referenced by the triggers. You can carry the cards with you and review them even when you have only short bursts of time available. Practicing under Exam Conditions Knowing the course material is necessary but not sufficient to guarantee success on the exam - you also need to be able to communicate the answers effectively under exam conditions. Practice using sample questions in the same format as the exam and answer them in a simulated test environment. The sample questions can be sourced from old exams and assignments, which are often similar from year to year with small changes. Even though you are only practicing, it is better to write full answers to the questions so you can work through the entire thought process. The practice session should serve as a feedback loop. Check the answers to the practice questions to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. If you are weak in an area, go back and study it further to address any gaps.

Taking Care of Yourself

Don't forget to take care of yourself during the exam preparation. It is very important to be in good mental and physical condition for the exam. A small amount of stress can get you psyched, but too much mental or physical strain can be detrimental to your performance. The last thing you want to do is to sabotage your efforts by ignoring your well-being.

After you finish studying, take some time to relax. Don't stay up too late if you can help it and try to get a good night's sleep. Eat before the exam to build your energy, but avoid heavy foods that can make you drowsy. Keep a positive attitude about the exam. Think of it as a way to demonstrate your knowledge and not as some imposing challenge. Go to the exam focused and relaxed - you have done the work, now it's time to reap the rewards.

Note Taking Tips

What does it take to be able to take good notes in your university classes and earn high marks when examination day comes? Does jotting down every other word your instructor utters make any sense? Notwithstanding a sharp memory and a great comprehension about the subject matter being discussed in class, an organized system of note taking is an essential matter that will serve you well way after you leave university. Taking good notes is like having a back-up armory during study time, or even during subsequent courses when the same subject matter is lined up for discussion. Moreover, given the various subjects you will have to absorb in a given school year, the average mind can only manage to remember so many. Certain points may seem crystal clear during the class lecture, but without good notes you can rely on, you stand to forget about 80 to 90 percent of what you heard. Your notes, especially if they are comprehensible, will come in very handy because they can help you focus on certain concepts and recall important parts of the lesson, heighten your understanding about the subject matter, and allow you to review and cast attention on items that require clarification. As such, it is very important to master the art of efficient note taking. It is advisable to review the class notes you jotted down a few minutes before the class ends or just before the next class with the instructor. If the instructor is the type who makes a quick recap of lessons discussed during the previous class, then that will be the best time to clarify points which are not clear to you. Key to good note taking is to listen well. Instead of attempting to write down everything, and ending up with unimportant phrases and details, try to absorb the gist of what your instructor is trying to convey. Create a mental picture of how the numerous details which the teacher is expressing is tied up to the main point or overall picture. Unfamiliar with some words the instructor is uttering? Write them down and look them up later during your free time. Jot down the date of each lecture and use dividers or separate pages for every major topic or new lesson. You may also use Post-It notes or flags that may be handy when review time comes. Try to find a seat near the instructor so that there will be less distractions and youll be able to hear each and every important part of the lesson. Write down salient points, including short outlines or outline presentations summarizing key points. Learn to listen to cues and transitional words (like therefore) that signal important parts of the lesson. Learn to read no-verbal cues as well which the instructor may be sending, but focus on the lesson, not on other things of which the instructor may be reminding you. Another important reminder in effective note taking is to abbreviate long words & use symbols & short phrases, but write in a legible manner so that you dont defeat the main purpose of those notes. Try to write as fast as you can, but skip the unimportant words like articles and prepositions. Finally, you may compare notes with a fellow student just in case there were still some important points you missed.

Test Taking Tips

Have you ever wondered how the individuals who emerge with the highest marks in university exams do it? What are the secret strategies to handling test questions with ease and scoring high in those allimportant tests? Its amazing how certain students hurdle all challenges, including time pressure and the trickiest questions, and pass exams with flying colors. What tactics does a smart student employ to ace tests in university? A closer look at students who achieved amazing test scores showed ample preparation for examinations, including having an organized study method in a clutter-free and distraction-free environment at home coupled with enough sleep/rest, vitamins and proper diet prior to the examination day. Theres much logic to what every teacher says over and over again: dont cram! By studying just a few hours before examination day, you set yourself up for failure. Maintain composure and avoid panic and stress by doing your homework in advance. Taking time to ponder on the many different approaches to a certain issue or topic, days before exam day, may work to your advantage. Its the digital age, so hey! Reference materials and informational materials of all kinds are just a few clicks away. Do research on your weak spots, or on topics of which you feel you have insufficient knowledge. Know what some of the secrets of the highest placers in bar examinations are? They made sure they had organized review materials. On top of that, they strive to remain focused, avoid stress and distractions, and stay physically fit (and in so doing stay mentally alert). Students who earned the best test scores in important tests also cite confidence and determination, among other traits that contribute to high marks. A meticulous eye is likewise essential, because one has to understand and follow directions and avoid small mistakes that may jeopardize the entire test. When under time pressure, most students concentrate on answering the easier items first before turning to the tougher ones. Successful test-taking requires some guts, a little inspiration, and lots of preparation. Some examination parts, like the essay portion, require something more than well-read notes and mastery of the subject matter. Tackling an essay involves certain writing skills, like being able to put in all the correct elements of style, ferreting out the main idea and supporting this with details, and expressing ideas in coherent paragraphs. If you are not among those with a natural flair for words or expressing ideas and sentiments in clear, flowing prose, then all the more you should practice, weeks before the exam. Indeed, the announcement of an examination is one of the most disconcerting things for students of varying personalities and abilities, but with some preparation, you can breeze through it. Some university graduates advise preparing from the get-go, or during the first class session. By listening well to every class lecture, doing efficient note-taking and time management, doing your homework, and taking care of your health, you are well on your way to acing your university exams. So next time you set out to write a grueling examination, bear in mind all these tips and strategies. Believe in yourself and ace that test.

Essay Writing Tips

Learning how to write essays is important because it provides skills that you will frequently need to utilize in school, the workplace and many other endeavors. In the electronic age, many essay-writing service firms have sprouted, prompting some students to relegate their writing skills to a paid professional, much to the chagrin of teachers and parents. However, for those students who persevere and put their creative

and critical thinking abilities to the test, essay writing can be a mentally stimulating and even fun experience. Your own foray into essay writing will arm you with a competitive edge over others who cannot write well on their own. Indeed, learning how to write essays well has its rewards, among them higher marks, greater probability of being shortlisted for the best jobs after graduating from university and a huge dose of personal fulfillment. Essay writing need not be an exasperating process, if you bear some tips in mind. When you buckle down to write an essay, try to be cool and collected with your thoughts. As with other written pieces, the first paragraph or lead is very important. Once you have a clear idea of what you are going to write and where it is headed, writing the introduction should be easy enough. Write an introduction that is attentiongrabbing and sets forth a clear statement leading to the thesis. Do not clutter the first paragraph with too many ideas all at once. You can employ certain techniques like a rhetorical question, or a human interest approach, or even compare and contrast, but keep it short. Remember that you are trying to captivate, and not lose, the reader. After you have written the introduction, present a clear central idea or focus and unifying angle for every succeeding paragraph. If the essay is a literary critique/analysis, you can explore the theme of the chosen literary piece. The succeeding paragraphs, in this instance, would include the authors objective in writing the book plus some supporting quotes from the text. Explain clearly and concisely how the text reveals the theme you chose. The body of your literary essay may also include your feelings and responses to the text about which you are writing. If the essay is a comparative analysis of two subjects and you were given time to do research about a specific topic, you should be able to have at least two good reference materials highlighting the qualities and strengths of one subject versus the other. As you write, keep in mind that your sentences must support your main point. Unity, coherence, and correctness (in grammar, punctuation, and other elements of style) are must-haves. If you refer to ideas that are not your own, remember to give proper attribution. You would not want to be labeled a plagiarist. Schools can be strict about this. Finally, it may be wise and nice to throw in some creativity. Reading the essays and other literary contributions of great thinkers may inspire you to start and add form and substance to your essay. Once you get the hang of writing essays from the heart and from many ideas percolating in your mind, you can be more adept and even manage to add something to make every essay you write uniquely your own.

How to Manage Your Time

The time in university can be one of the most exciting moments in a persons life. Its when you meet many new friends, possibly including your future spouse and/or business associates, and mentors who leave a lasting impression. While the first couple of years signal many fun, carefree moments and extracurricular activities, the last two remaining years in college are the times when youd want to make the most of your time with friends youve shared so much time with. These are also the years when major subjects and course-related projects demand much of your attention. You want to accomplish as much as you can while not taking your friends (and other people close to you) for granted or missing out on the thrill, fun and exposure that university activities offer. From all indications, some time management skills are in order. While it may seem like effective time management is easier said than done, the fact is that things can all fall into place if you commit yourself to making this happen. Before anything else, there are some things individuals need to do first, like learn how to prioritize (is it education first, extracurricular activities second, friends and hobbies last? Or is it the

other way around for you?) To have direction, you can develop a short-term as well as a long-term plan and try to stick to it so that you dont end up draining not just money but precious time and energy. When you encounter deadlines left and right, work on the more urgent one first. When things get more complicated and you find yourself on the brink of losing your mind, take a moment to breathe and do a self-assessment for personal inventory. Ponder on questions like: Have I been persistent enough to see my plans through to completion?; Have I procrastinated too much to decrease my efficiency?; and Have I dissipated my energy in unimportant matters or issues that took up much of my time? With proper time management, you can simplify life (and the many things commanding your undivided attention) while still leaving much time for more important matters, like attending to your personal health and overall well-being. By planning your time well, you dont end up spreading yourself thin and sacrificing many things, including your studies. To effectively manage your time while in university, do away with the small tasks right away so you can brace for the bigger ones. In handling tough assignments, you can do it piece by piece but see it through. When review time is just around the bend and you have the urge to just meet up with friends and take things easy nudge yourself to reality and remember what you are in school for to learn and chart your future. Its your personal decision, though, so should you decide to loaf around a bit, then do so but have a firm resolve to get your act together quickly when school matters beckon. Set up proper study skills, because in doing so, you use your time more efficiently and end up doing your best in and out of school. Proper time management involves listening effectively in every class, doing proper note taking, preparing for tests, and balancing all these with a healthy social agenda plus some personal time. With patience, flexibility, awareness, determination, and a learn as you go approach, you stand a great chance of enjoying the best years of your life in university.

Academics Health Quick Recipes Money Management Shopping Travel

How to Deal with Stress

Keeping crazy hours. Fixing a new schedule. Joining a school organization. Dealing with `terror teachers. Feeling under the weather. Unruly roommates. Exams. Project deadlines. ... the list goes on. These are but some of the things that stress out most university students. Then again, who doesnt experience stress? It's the innate nature of the human mind to be restless, but there are stress management techniques to still the mind and calm the senses. As demanding place as university life can get, it can be loads of fun, too. It's all a matter of time management and maneuvering events/circumstances so that they work in your favor. Stress should not be taken lightly. It can be a good thing if it pushes you to improve and turn in your best performance; but it can also be bad if you ignore it and let it evolve into a chronic condition that can trigger illnesses like asthma, migraines, skin disorders or other serious illnesses. Some of the ways to efficiently handle what life throws at you while in university are to keep the mind relaxed but quite alert, learn to adopt to the situation and keep a positive mindset. The key to coping with stress is to identify the type or source of your stress. By pinpointing your particular stressors you can then start neutralizing them more effectively. By employing stress management techniques, you can better cope and enjoy life. Remember that life is short and you can make

tremendous impact on people and events around you, so do the best that you can to address the various stressors that threaten to impede your life. If biological stressors like incessant colds, cough or flu are affecting both your studies and social life, you may need to revamp your diet and load up on foods vitamin-rich foods, supplement smartly and dispel stress (which may be exacerbating your condition) by breathing properly, doing meditative exercises, relaxing and letting go of expectations. Lack of essential multivitamins may be whats making you feel sluggish, irritable or somewhat scatterbrained. Additive-laden fastfood and junk foods, too much coffee and alcohol may also be hampering your health and well-being. If stress from academics is whats causing you to feel off-kilter, better time management may help. Know that you can be in control. Plan to break down large tasks into small manageable ones. When you find your school load or projects multiplying, pace yourself and prioritize the most important/urgent ones. As for social stressors like adjusting to a roommate, juggling a part-time job with time for special friends and school work, or finding yourself the subject of negative talks, bear in mind that you cannot please everybody. You need not aspire to reach other peoples high standards, nor set unrealistically high ones for yourself. Have a creative outlet to vent your frustrations, like a hobby or sport that gives a cardio workout. Finding time to relax is part and parcel of good stress management. Once youve recharged and taken time out for yourself, youd be amazed that you can get back to the tasks at hand with greater vigor and enthusiasm.

9 Ways to Prepare for Finals


By Alexandra Mayzler June 05, 2007

You totally dont want to think about it right now, but finals are just around the corner. That means you can add studying for them to your already vast to-do list. Here are some helpful hints on how to prepare for your exams and get everything else done.

Tip 1: Start early Preparation for exams should begin earlier than the day before the test. You cant cram an entire unit of information into an all-nighter. Get started at least a week before the exam. Tip 2: Organize Begin by making yourself a calendar outlining a daily schedule of topics for review. Cover a small amount of material for each class each day. Every time you complete a topic, give yourself a mini review. Tip 3: Outline Once you have decided what you need to study and how much time you need to spend studying, it is time to actually study. One of the best ways is to make succinct outlines. As you read over your textbook and class notes, write a brief summary for each topic. Highlight the areas in your outline that were most troublesome. When you have finished with all the material, you will have an outline you can review. Tip 4: Make flashcards Similar to outlining, making flashcards is a really helpful technique for studying. By writing down the information from your outline, you are already doing half the studying. Once the flashcards are complete, you will have a portable study packet to look over. Tip 5: Get help If you are having trouble memorizing something or a particular concept is just not sinking in, get help before its too late. Ask your teacher to go over a glitch you might be having. Or if memorizing 200 vocabulary words seems like too much to do, recruit your family members to quiz you with index cards. Tip 6: Sleep You need at least seven hours of sleep a night to function. Tests are designed to make you think. If you are sleep-deprived, you wont be able to remember any of the information you worked so hard to cram into your brain. Tip 7:Stay calm Do not panic at the exam! Even if at first glance the test is overwhelming, remember to breathe. If a question seems too hard, answer all the questions you know, then return to the ones you left blank. Remind yourself that you are prepared. Tip 8: Dont rush You have spent at least two weeks studying, so whats another couple of minutes? Work through the exam slowly and read all the questions before answering them. If you are done before the time is up, look over your answers. Tip 9: Relax post-exam Dont let panic overwhelm you. Even if you think you bombed the exam, worrying will not change your score. It may, however, affect your mindset for your next final. Zone out the last test and stay focused on the next one. Odds are, you didnt do as badly as you think.

SolveYourProblem Article Series: Self Improvement & Personal Growth

I Want A Better Life...NOW

7 Easy Steps To Increase Your Concentration Power

by Jeff Cohen

The power of concentration is a skill that is easy to master, that is if you have the willpower to do so. If there is a will, there is a way according to one saying, the same goes with concentration. Popular television newscaster and personality Diane Sawyer was once asked about her secret to professional success. Her response was that paying attention was her secret. The question therefore remains, How does one basically maintain focus and concentration? The following are helpful tips to improve your ability to concentrate in the best way possible. These suggestions apply whether you are in the office busy with work, school, business meeting, or if you are trying to finish a particular project. 1. Do five more There are actually two types of people in the world: those who know how to eliminate frustration and those who wish they are able to work through it. Focus and concentrate on doing just five more things. This sort of mantra is best said when you feel like giving up. For instance, if you feel like you no longer want to read or write any more pages, tell yourself to do just five pages more. Finish just five more math questions. Stay five minutes more on the treadmill. Take note that athletes build their own physical prowess by pushing their bodies to the point of exhaustion while they develop mental stamina. 2. Take one step at one time There are instances when you feel like your mind is loaded with many ideas like that of a scatterbrain. The key is to control your brain. Rather than worrying on many matters, prioritize tasks and do only those that are needed. For instance, you cannot help but think of mounting debt problems and this causes you to lose focus on the presentation you need to do in five minutes. Tell your mind that you will think of ways to pay off your bills after your presentation. Your mind will then establish closure and allow you to focus on the presentation. 3. Train yourself to have tunnel vision You can actually cup your hands around your own eyes. This may serve as a trigger to tell your mind to focus on a particular responsibility. For example, you are in a room and you need to study but there are many things preventing you from concentrating.

Cupping your hands around your eyes may help your brain switch to focus mode and keep it on its track. 4. Have a handy pad When a thought pops into your head and causes you to lose focus, jot down this thought immediately. Writing it down is an effective way to get it out of your mind. After which, consciously focus on the task that you need to accomplish at the moment. 5. Take a break Remember that you are not a machine. You need to take a break to continue focusing on the task at hand. Taking breaks is a good way to break down the tasks into parts that are a lot more manageable. You can take a walk or eat lunch out. 6. Record your start and end times When doing work, try to record the time you began and the time when you mind begins to drift. Doing so helps you know just how much time you spent doing actual work and the time when you started losing your concentration. 7. Vary your activities It is advisable to vary the activities you do in order to keep your mind active and not bored. A bored mind will just easily float and drift away to oblivion. All in all, these activities and tips need to be practiced regularly for you to concentrate and focus on the things that really matter most for you.

Improve Your Concentration

It's an obvious step - improve your concentration to improve your memory. To concentrate simply means to focusing intensely. If you aren't focused, you won't be able to memorize new facts or recall information you memorized previously. Here's some great news: Concentration is a mental skill you can develop. There are two ways to improve your concentration: First, increase your brain's natural ability to concentrate regardless of the environment - in other words, increasing your attention. Second, adjust your environment to make concentrating easier. This approach is especially important when you are actively studying something new for school, work, or leisure.

Step 1: Power Up Your Brain

To improve your concentration takes a little time and effort, but it can be worth it. In my experience you can make noticeable improvement in a relatively short time. As recent books on neuroplasticity such as Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (by Sharon Begley) explain, the structure and function of the adult brain is not set in stone as scientists have always said. In fact, each time you learn a new skill, memorize information, or develop new habits, the neurons and connections in your brain grow and change. This is an exciting discovery, and is further evidence that your brain's abilities - including the ability to concentrate effectively - can be changed for the better. Research shows that these changes do not occur overnight, however. You have to work at it consistently and regularly. After all, you are literally reshaping your brain! So, where should you begin if you want to improve your concentration? Start building into your daily schedule habits that lead to increased brain power. These include:

Mindfulness meditation. Start with five minutes in the morning and five minutes before bed, every day. A great guide if you are just getting started with meditation is Andrea Weiss' book Beginning Mindfulness. I have this book and am working through the 10 week course in mindfulness it describes. See the Mediation and Memory page for more information. Proper sleep. Sorry to say it, but unless you are getting sufficient restful sleep, you are not going to be as mentally focused as you could be. See the Sleep & Memory page for tips and more information. Here's an idea: consider upgrading your crummy old mattress. You know, the one that's so uncomfortable it makes you toss and turn all night? I recently bought a new Spring Air mattress to replace my old bad mattress and have never slept better. It wasn't cheap, but I look at it as an investment in my health (and my memory!).

Vitamins and other supplements. I've tried a number of brain enhancement supplements and other vitamins for memory. One in particular that seemed to help me concentrate better is "Attend" by VAXA. This is a non-prescription supplement for adults who may have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I have never been diagnosed with ADD, but I found this product almost immediately improved my ability to focus. The effect is like being "in the zone", where you visually and mentally lock in on the person you are speaking to, or the material you are reading. I can't guarantee it will improve your concentration as much as it seemed to improve mine, but I'm a believer. The cheapest I've been able to find Attend is on, but you may want to shop around. You might also want to take a look at Synaptol, a supplement for concentration sold by MicroNutra. Second, I recommend you take a mulitivitamin each day. That way, just in case your diet is not the greatest, you can perhaps avoid a vitamin deficiency that could hurt your brain. It also doesn't hurt to supplement with Vitamin C and fish oil capsules which are good for brain health.

One important note - always consult your doctor if you have questions about your diet or any supplements you plan to take.

Brain games. The more you use certain skills, the more they are reinforced in the brain, research shows. So it makes sense that playing concentration games and games that require you to focus will improve your concentration ability. My Brain Games page has over 25 free brain games you can play anytime. Again, though, you need to be consistent. Play for at least 10 minutes each day. Have fun, and get the benefits, too.

Eat healthier. Your brain needs the proper nutrients to allow you to focus, and your blood sugar needs to be properly regulated (the brain consumes glucose, a sugar, as its primary fuel). See the Diet & Memory page for more about this.

Step 2: Optimize Your Environment

In addition to building the habits described above into your daily routine, also adjust your environment to improve your concentration when studying.

Create a study spot. Your brain loves routine. Create a place where all you do is study. An obvious choice is a secluded desk of some kind, but the trick is to make sure you only study in that spot. Studying in bed is a bad habit, for example, because your body is trained to want to sleep once you get into bed. Try green light. Here's an odd tip. Recent studies have shown that green lightimproves concentration. Install a green light bulb in the study lamp at your desk. If you think it makes a difference and helps you to concentrate better, let me know! Try the color red. Green light not working? Look at red instead. A study in the journal Science explains how color affects the brain. One interesting discovery: red improves concentration and memory, while blue improves creativity. Try these ideas when you really need to focus: - Set small red items out on your desk. - Add red to your outfit (red shirt, red accessory, etc.). - Hang red-themed pictures on your wall. - Change your computer's desktop background to red. You never realized your blue walls were wrecking your concentration, did you? Now you have a way to focus better whenever you want. Just bring out the red!

Remove distractions. Turn off the ringer on your phone and take other steps to prevent interruptions. Don't study with the television on or with talk radio playing. Some studies have shown that soft instrumental music (no vocals) can help improve your concentration, however. Use Time Boxes. Set a time limit when you need to study new material. For example, let's say you want to read one chapter in a book (and remember it). Decide in advance that you can have 45 minutes to read the chapter, and 15 minutes to review it. Set a timer to keep

yourself honest, then pace yourself to keep within the alotted time. This use of Time Boxes will really help you stay focused on the material. Stay motivated with rewards. If you see studying as drudge work, it's hard to concentrate. One way to stay motivated is to set up a reward system. Tell yourself you have to earn that hour of watching your favorite show later in the evening by first completing one hour of intense studying. That way, even if the material is dry, you have the reward to look forward to. Take a break every two hours. You mental energy will begin to decline after a long period of study. So every two hours or so, take a ten minute break. Walk around, eat a light snack, or just stare at the wall to relax your mind. Activate your Theta waves. One of the steps in the IMPACT memory technique developed in England is mental preparation. Our brains are not always in the best state of readiness for remembering new material, but it turns out you can easily change this simply by changing your breathing. When it's time to study or remember something new, switch your breathing pattern to be slower and deeper. Deeper and slower breathing actually changes the way your brain works, by inducing the brain's electrical pulses to switch to Theta waves. Theta waves normally occur in your brain in hypnogogic sleep. This is the stage of sleep when outside noises like an alarm clock can influence dreaming. It turns out being in this stage also can aid memory. A good example is the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, when information you've been trying to think of all day suddenly comes back to you after napping or waking up from sleep. To activate your Theta waves, switch your breathing to your lower abdomen - in other words, start breathing deeply from your stomach. Consciously slow your rate of breathing too. After a few moments, you should feel calmer, the Theta waves should be flowing in your brain, and you should be more receptive to concentrating on new information.

Concentrating is the first step to learning anything new. It only makes sense that if you improve your concentration, your memory will improve also.

Improving Your Concentration

More Sharing ServicesShare|Share on facebookShare on myspaceShare on googleShare on twitter
Advertisement Here are a few tips to help you Improve your concentration
1. To enhance your concentration and powers of focus, count your steps when you walk. This is a particularly strong technique. Take six steps while taking a long inhale, hold your breath for another six steps, and then exhale for six steps. If six steps is too long for the breaths, do whatever you feel comfortable with. You will feel very alert, refreshed, internally quiet and centered after this exercise. So many people allow their minds to be filled with mental chatter. All peak performers appreciate the power of a quiet, clear mind which will concentrate steadily on all important tasks. 2. Enhance your will-power; it is likely one of the best training programs you can invest in. Here are some ideas to strengthen your will and become a stronger person:

a) Do not let your mind float like a piece of paper in the wind. Work hard to keep it focused at all times. When doing a task, think of nothing else. When walking to work, count the steps that it takes to get all the way to the office. This is not easy but your mind will soon understand that you hold its reins and not vice versa. Your mind must eventually become as still as a candle flame in a corner where there is no draft. b) Your will is like a muscle. You must first exercise it and then push before it gets stronger. This necessarily involves short term pain but be assured that the improvements will come and will touch your character in a most positive way. When you are hungry, wait another hour before your meal. When you are laboring over a difficult task and your mind is prompting you to pick up the latest magazine for a break or to get up and go talk to a friend, curb the impulse. Soon you will be able to sit for hours in a precisely concentrated state. Sir Issac Newton, one of the greatest classical physicists the world has produced, once said: "if I have done the public any service, it is due to patient thought." Newton had a remarkable ability to sit quietly and think without interruption for very long periods of time. If he can develop this so can you.

c) You can also build your will-power by restraint in your conduct with others. Speak less (use the 60/40 Rule = listen 60% of the time and speak a mere 40%, if that). This will not only make you more popular but you will learn much wisdom as everyone we meet, every day has something to teach us. Also restrain the urge to gossip or to condemn someone who you feel has made a mistake. Stop complaining and develop a cheerful, vital and strong personality. You will greatly influence others. 3. Become a highly disciplined time manager. There are roughly 168 hours in a week. This surely allows plenty of time for achievement of the many goals we desire to accomplish. Be ruthless with your time. Set aside a few minutes each morning to plan your day. Plan around your priorities and focus on not only those tasks which are immediate but not important (i.e., many telephone calls) but especially on those which are important but not urgent, for these allow for the greatest personal and professional development. Important but not immediate activities are those which produce long-term, sustainable benefits and include exercise, strategic planning, the development of relationships and professional education. Never let the things which matter most be placed in the backseat as compared to those that matter least. 4.The Two Minute Mind is an excellent exercise for developing concentration. Simply stare at the second hand on your wristwatch for two minutes and think about nothing else for that time. At first your mind will wander but after 21 days of practice, your attention will not waver during the routine. One of the greatest qualities a person can develop to ensure his success is the ability to focus for

extended periods of time. Learn to build up your concentration muscles and no task will be too difficult for you. 5. To enhance your concentration, read a passage in a book you have never explored. Then try to recite it verbatim. Practice this for only 5 minutes a day and enjoy the results which follow after a few months of effort. 6. 83% of our sensory input comes from our eyes. To truly concentrate on something, shut your eyes and you will remove much distraction.