I Have Poor Study Habits
November 10, 2008 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Help me concentrate better.

Okay here's the thing. I often find myself studying for an exam on the previous night or even a few hours before the exam. It's the feeling of urgency that drives me to study and focus on the materials. This is the same thing with writing papers and essays as well. The odd thing is, I almost always perform well. When I am not procrastinating, I find it unbearably difficult to concentrate and then I end up putting it off. I'm worried because I am studying for the MCAT and this is an exam I KNOW I will not do well if I fail to properly prepare myself.
posted by girlthursday to Education (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The MCAT isn't an exam that can be studied for the night before. Maybe get with a study group where you all stick on the same schedule.
posted by k8t at 6:12 PM on November 10, 2008

Pay for the prep class. I have this problem - and paying for an expensive in class test prep program is worth it just because of the forced structure it provides.

You won't waste your time because then you'll be wasting your money. You are forced to sit in class a few times a week for an extended period of time and study.
posted by Arbac at 6:16 PM on November 10, 2008

Response by poster: I have no problem with prep classes which I know will help me with the MCAT, but what about studying and concentrating for other classes? What will help me "motivate" that same type of concentration I have when I am procrastinating?
posted by girlthursday at 8:14 PM on November 10, 2008

The stock answer is that procrastinating and studying at the last minute are a way of dealing with anxiety about the test. In other words, you reason subconsciously (irrationally) that if you don't do well, it won't be your fault, it'll be because of the circumstances. Of course, you've created the circumstances, but this kind of thing doesn't have to make sense.

You're pretty much telling us that unless we tell you some secret technique, you're not going to take responsibility for your education. I guess you're still able to get by on native brilliance. That technique may work until graduation. In med school there'll be way too much work. Then you'll get serious and ... just do it.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:04 PM on November 10, 2008

Premature posting strikes again. My answer is to deal with the anxiety. That's not a study technique, but it's my guess at what will really help. Best of luck to you.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:07 PM on November 10, 2008

Best answer: It takes practice. Sit down everyday in a place as free of distractions as you can manage. Study. When your mind starts up its nonsense, gently bring it back to the topic. You're the kind, benevolent master of your mind. You won't last long at first. I considered 15 minutes a personal victory. It should get easier and easier with time to get to that place of concentration.
posted by classa at 4:42 AM on November 11, 2008

posted by neuron at 8:51 PM on November 11, 2008

One thing that helps me is to keep a piece of scratch paper handy, off to the side. Whenever I have a distracting thought like "I need to go grocery shopping," I jot that down and go back to studying. If something makes me look up, I make a hash mark on the paper. This way, I start to become more conscious of allowing myself to be distracted, and I can't get lost in a thought. Soon, I'll tune out the distractions, and won't let my thoughts wander. YMMV.
posted by Rykey at 4:31 PM on November 12, 2008

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