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How to stay focussed before an exam

In an increasingly connected and busy world, students find it hard to keep their focus intact. With so much going on in the world around them and a deluge of information being thrown at them, they feel that they have no control over their lives. This frenzy, compounded by the pressure to live up to parents’ expectations, intensifies students’ sense of unease about their impending exams. 

Since the stakes are high, students find themselves under constant pressure to excel academically. Anxiety and fear of failure get in the way of preparations and this can prove to be physically as well as mentally debilitating for them. What’s worse, this makes them prone to issues such as anger, irritability, loss of appetite and sleeplessness. 

You must be wondering if this situation can ever change. 

Fret not, it can. All you need to do is find some ways to train your mind to focus on one thing at a time, without getting distracted. Not only will this help you deal with exam stress but also teach you how to face other adverse situations in life with equanimity. 

Here are a few tips to help you train your mind to focus: 

  • Create gadget-free zones: Find a place in the house that offers minimal distractions. While studying, ensure that all the gadgets you are fond of, such as your computer, cell-phone and television are kept elsewhere. 
  • Keep only relevant tabs open on your computer: If you want to study on a computer, don’t keep several tabs open. Chances are that you’ll end up toggling between them. And doing this tends to deviate your attention from the main task. Thus, open only relevant tabs to reduce the chances of being distracted. 
  • Assess your levels of stimulation: Research suggests that a steady level of stimulation is crucial to keeping your interest intact in different subjects. A low level of stimulation indicates that the task is boring, while a high level of stimulation indicates stress or anxiety. Therefore, it becomes imperative to think of ways to make boring tasks interesting as well as keep stress triggers at bay. So, make a list of options that can help you adjust your stimulation levels. For example, playing music, going out for a stroll, meditating, sitting by the balcony and sipping a drink, etc., can stimulate you to study longer and better.  
  • Create to-do lists: Creating a to-do list can help you stay focussed on the tasks that need to be accomplished in a day. By doing so, you will have a clear idea of what you need to do during the day, which will enable you to divide your time efficiently. Don’t make the list too long, instead keep it short and precise. Focus only on the tasks that can be completed with a minimum of fuss. 
  • Do a self-scan on a regular basis: You can do a self-scan before an exam to understand yourself better. A self-scan is an attention-training technique that is used before starting a task. It involves asking yourself a series of questions to direct your thoughts and behaviour at something. Listed below are a few questions to train your brain to focus. 

→ Where am I at the moment?

→ What will I gain from this situation?

→ What have I done in similar situations in the past?

→Do I want to change any of my behaviours?

→ What are the thoughts to be entertained?

→ What are the thoughts to be restrained? 

Always remember that focus is a skill you develop over time. Make the most of the above tips, consider what works and keep practising!

All the best for your exams!

Manalisa Sarmah

Manalisa Sarmah is a copywriter at Next Education Pvt. Ltd. She has completed her MPhil in Sociology from the University of Hyderabad. She has worked on different educational projects with Hope Foundation and Adhyayan respectively. Her interest areas include reading, creative writing, and travelling.


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