How can I keep my focus and concentration before an exam?

Exam time is never easy, but there are a few things you can work into your day to focus better, work smarter, and ace your exams.

Do  your deep work early.

Deep work is what your analytical brain does that requires the most  concentration to perform the most complex tasks (in the case of studying, these can be reading, comprehension, application, repetition). Some scientists call this time of day the brain’s peak performance time, and it’s roughly  2-4 hours after we wake up. So, for example, if you wake up at 6, your peak times are between 8 and 10  a.m. Be sure to block this time off to cover your most important work.

Become an expert at time management.

When you’re studying, don’t pore over your books for hours. Instead, use a timer to divide up your day into manageable increments that will allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way. Set the timer to 30 or 60 minute blocks, for example. You can also try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time, followed by 5 minute breaks. When you’re done with one segment, step away from your desk, and do something completely unrelated to work to give your brain a chance to rest: take a 5 minute walk, look out the window, stretch your body, grab a cup of coffee or tea.

Use power naps for an energy boost.

To give your brain a chance to rest and absorb the material you’ve covered earlier in the day, opt for a power nap in the afternoon, for about 30 minutes. Block away environmental noise with noise-cancelling headphones, and listen to music that can help you relax (it can be classical music, chillout, sounds of nature).

Take a walk before an exam to boost memory and increase focus

Performing some form of physical exercise, even if it is targeted and short, improves your brain’s cognitive performance, problem solving ability, and even boosts long-term memory. Step away from your workspace and walk for 30 minutes. If your neighborhood or college campus is noisy, take your headphones with you and listen to   some relaxing instrumental music.

Don’t underestimate the power of sleep.

You are working towards your exams, but in order to pass you’ll need to make sure your brain functions at optimum levels. Chronic sleep deprivation can reduce your cognitive abilities, can impact your concentration, and can even reduce your IQ. Train your brain to wind down at the same time each evening to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep, by (a) setting a bedtime alarm on your phone about 30 minutes before you need to sleep, and (b) following a simple nighttime routine that can help you unwind better.

For some additional study hacks check out this article.

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