Concentration: A Common Problem

In many colleges, over 30% of students report problems concentrating on their studies. Most of these students blame outside distractions for their problems. Many research studies manipulating noise levels and distractions have found that such disturbances may increase, decrease, or not even affect concentration. These researchers have therefore concluded that distracters don’t cause concentration problems directly. It is the way the distracters are interpreted by the students that disrupt their study.

Creating a Study Environment

  • Find a place to study and keep it for study only.
  • Tool up the environment with all study needs.
  • Control noise level and the visual environment to acceptable levels.
  • Avoid relaxing while working; create a work atmosphere.

When to Study

  • Best during the day and early evening; you’ll remember better.
  • Best when there are the fewest competing activities in progress.
  • Best when adequate rest periods are provided.
  • Stop studying when fatigue or lack of attention occurs.

How to Study & Concentrate

  • When distracters are present, they become intensely involved.
  • Keep a pad of paper handy to jot down extraneous thoughts that cross your mind while studying; get them out of your mind and onto paper.
  • Set study goals before you begin each period of study (number of pages, number of problems, etc.).
  • Design adequate rewards after specified goals are attained.
  • Break up the content of study by mixing up subjects, building in variety and interest, and removing boredom.
  • Make the most of rest periods-do something entirely different.
  • Don’t try to mix work and play.
  • Start with short study periods and slowly build to more extended periods only as fast as you maintain concentration.
  • Make a calendar of events to clear your mind of distractions.
  • Plan the length of your study period by the amount of material you have decided to cover, not by the clock. (Often, the clock is one of the most severe distracters.)

Adapted from Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001