Tips for maintaining concentration

Apr 2024
When you are in the exam room, be prepared for movement around you and don't look at it.

When exams are in full swing, many students find themselves concerned that they will not be able to maintain their concentration for the duration. Concentrating on one subject for a prolonged period of time can be difficult, particularly when you will need to sit exam after exam after exam!

Here are a few tips to help:

Find a revision spot
Finding a good place to revise is important for prolonging concentration. Make sure you find somewhere that is comfortable, with a good sized table to spread out all of the books you'll need. Find somewhere that is the right temperature, with good lighting and where you aren't going to be disturbed. Make sure your friends and family know that when you are in your revision spot, you aren't to be disturbed!

Get a good night's sleep
Making sure you are well rested is extremely important, especially during exams. While you may feel the need to cram the night before, you will be far more alert and better able to recall information after a restful sleep to recharge your batteries.

Learn to turn a blind eye
When you know you have to sit still and concentrate on one task for an extended period, it is easy to find reasons to be distracted. When you enter the exam hall or sit down to revise, be aware of all the things you might hear or that might distract you and learn to turn a blind eye to them. If you have a younger sibling who arrives home at 4.30pm, you know the door is going to slam or the TV is going to start up so you don't need to react to it. When you are in the exam room, people will be asking to leave or requesting more paper; be prepared for movement around you and don't look at it.

Remove distractions
Similarly, if you know your friend is sitting a different exam to you today and will finish at 3pm, put your phone out of sight so you are not distracted by a message from them. Make sure your phone is on silent, your internet browser is closed and your notifications are off - don't give yourself extra reason to lose focus!

Make a plan
Don't sit down to look at all the subjects you need to study for at once, a big job like that will quickly start to feel overwhelming. Instead, make a plan: start by considering which exams you have next, and which subjects need the most work, and schedule your time accordingly. Make this schedule realistic and include regular breaks. If you plan to study biology for eight hours, you risk spending seven of those working up to it so instead set yourself hour-long goals and then schedule a 15-minute break to take a walk, make a drink or reply to your messages. And then back to it!

Allow downtime
As important as it is to maintain focus, it is also important to allow time to rest and relax. If you have an exam finishing at 4pm, and then another exam at 9am the next day, don't try and walk out of the exam and go straight back to study. You won't be able to do it. Give yourself an hour or two to do something else. A quick game of football or visit to the local swimming pool will enable you to let your mind stray in order to allow it to regain focus later.

Keep your blood flowing
If you are sat at a desk for an extended period of time, gravity will cause blood to pool in the lower half of your body and will not push as much oxygen to your brain, where it helps improve concentration. Make sure you take regular breaks to stand up and walk around to boost your blood flow and rejuvenate your focus.

Good luck to all of you sitting exams at the moment!