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How to Stay Focused for Tests: Be in the Moment

We’ve all experienced loss of focus while testing. You’re going along with your chemistry test and suddenly you’re thinking about what you’re going to do this weekend or, worse, freaking out about what you’re going to get on the test and how it’s going to affect your GPA and how it’s going to affect getting into the college of your dream and how that’s going to affect your life. Ahhhh!!


This week we’re going to work on staying focused even when you feel overwhelmed or bored. Some of these techniques you want to use when you’re studying and some are for when you’re taking a test.


Staying Focused When Studying


Keeping focus while studying can be a challenge especially with Facebook and candy crush and the million other ways we can get distracted. I’ve included a few of my favorite ways to stay focused while studying. Try a few and see how they work for you. Let me know what results you get!


  1. Pomodoro Technique. I love this one! Be sure to turn off all distractions during your 25 minutes. No TV, phone, or Facebook.
  2. Take a nap. If you’re productivity and focus are waning, try taking a 20-25 minute to recover and let you refocus.
  3. Go for a jog. Maybe you need some time to clear your mind and get your blood pumping.
  4. Change things up. If you’re sick of chemistry and just can’t do it anymore, switch to calculus.
  5. Eat protein. This might seem crazy, but if you’re eating donuts and candy while studying, you’re going to have a sugar crash and that’s going to affect your focus. When you’re starting a study session, make sure you have a good meal with protein to keep your energy steady.


Being in the Moment for Tests


The techniques to help you stay focused during tests have to be quick so you’re not spending all of your test taking time trying to get focused. I use some of these with my students to prepare them for tests. Try just one during your next test and see if it helps you stay in the moment.


  1. Start your day with a good breakfast. Again you do NOT want a sugar crash during your test. Make sure on test days you have lots of protein and enough food so it’s not distracting you during the test.
  2. Breathe. If you find yourself spacing out or losing focus, take a few seconds and take 3 deep breaths. It will help you be more aware and refocus on the test.
  3. Plan for distractions. Before you go into a test, make a list of things that might distract you and come up with solutions for each one. If there might be an annoying noise, bring ear plugs. If you will be thinking about your weekend, come up with a plan to shut it down. The better you plan, the better the outcome.
  4. Make a list of every step you’re going to take when you test. Write down every step. I don’t want you to have to think about what to do next. Just follow your list. Write down your name. Start problem 1. Check problem 1. Etc.
  5. Keep a tally. Each time you find yourself losing focus make a mark somewhere (test or test booklet or scratch paper). This will make you more aware of when it happens and how often. As soon as you start tracking this, I promise the number of tallies will go down.

Action Steps

  1. Try one technique to keep your focus during studying your first week of the new semester.
  2. Try one technique to keep your focus during your next test.
  3. Let me know the results you got! Either leave a comment or email me.

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