Study Guide

Room to concentrate

To make the most of your study time, you've got to find a place that allows you to concentrate. For some, this means a place with total silence, while others can tolerate some degree of background noise. While quiet music won't necessarily interfere with study, it isn't always a help, either. Your mind can really only focus on one thing, and asking it to listen to music and review course materials at the same time forces it to divide its resources. For total concentration, it's a good idea to study in silence.

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Once you've selected your personal study place, stay consistent. Go there every time you hit the books, but don't use it for anything else. If you're constantly having to clean off your workspace or you have things in the room that could cause distractions, you'll end up wasting a lot of valuable study time. Treat studying as a ritual, and your study area as sacred ground. Be sure to ask your family members or anyone else who might use it to respect it and leave it alone.

Here's a checklist of other qualities to look for when choosing your study space:

  • Visual distractions. Don't study near a window or television. Anything that could distract you will only hinder your studying.
  • Comfort. Contrary to what you might think, it's best to study in a place that is slightly uncomfortable. In a warm, dimly lit room, you're apt to fall asleep. Try making the room a bit cool, or too bright. Sit in an upright position in a chair instead of a on a bed or couch, as again, you may find yourself sleepy.
  • Convenience. Keep your study materials within reach. If you have to get up and leave the room to get a pen or a book, you're likely to encounter a distraction on the way. Set yourself up with all your course materials, as well as a snack and a drink, so you never have to leave.
  • The Internet. If you can, have a computer with you when you study - just don't start playing Solitaire! The web is the world's largest library of free, easily accessible research materials. If you're careful about the sites you choose, you'll have virtually unlimited access to reliable research information.

Remember, it's okay to take breaks from studying. If you need to clear your head, go for a short, brisk walk or do something to reenergize yourself. Concentrating for hours on end can be very tiring and may not yield the best results in terms of retention of information. So go ahead and give your brain and eyes a rest every once in a while. Just make sure that you commit to begin studying again once you feel rejuvenated and motivated.

Choosing the right place to study is only the first step in ensuring that you achieve the marks you want. When combined with good study habits, you'll be on the path to success.

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