Concentration has been defined as "the ability to direct one's thinking in whatever direction one would intend". It is crucial to study actively and become absorbed in the material. The ability to concentrate varies greatly from one person to another; however, with practice most students can improve their level of concentration.

Susceptibility to distraction has been identified as a major cause of study problems. Students who are easily distractible cannot concentrate on their studies unless their study environment is free of distraction. Distractions can either be external (physical) or internal (psychological) in nature.

Internal distractions

Internal distractions originate within YOU. YOU create these distractions and only YOU have the power to eliminate or control them. Included in internal distractions are daydreams, personal problems, anxiety, indecision, and especially unrealistic goals.

External distractions

Anything that stimulates the senses and in the process interrupts concentration can be considered an external distraction. To concentrate effectively you must reduce sights and sounds, work in an appropriate study environment, and use the proper equipment.

Strategies to improve your concentration

Keep track of your lapses of concentration. It is suggested that you use a "concentration scorecard" to record your personal interruptions. Indicate on a sheet of paper, the number of occasions when you are aware of your mind wandering while you study. When you total these distractions, you realize how intrusive lapses are. The mind can be trained to concentrate for longer periods. Write down the personal thoughts that intrude on your concentration, and deal with these thoughts when you have completed studying. Take the time, before or after you study, to analyze why the problem exists and possible solution strategies.

Maintain a positive attitude. Prepare to work by setting realistic study goals. Break a large study...