4 Tricks for Improving Your Focus During an Exam
Worried about being able to focus during your exams this semester? These tricks will put you in the right headspace and ensure you’re on your game when big test days roll around.
1. Preparation is key
This should probably go without saying, but make sure you study for the exam – beginning as far in advance as possible.
This is the first “trick” on this list because it’s something that many students simply don’t do, and it’s essential. That is, they think they have trouble with focus when they really have trouble with the material. It’s far easier to focus when you have a good handle on the subject matter. On the other hand, if you’re completely lost in regards to the questions and essay prompts you find, you’ll definitely begin to panic and sweat – that’s a given!
So, make sure you’re not someone who starts worrying about your focus a few days before the exam. Know when your exams are!
There’s an easy way to do this: At the beginning of the school year, your professor should give you a syllabus for the course. On it, you’ll see exactly when each exam will be. This gives you the perfect starting point for creating a study schedule in preparation for the test.
2. Get a good night’s sleep the night before
Experts agree that sleep is essential for a strong memory, and naturally, a lot of your test-taking success will be determined by what you can learn and retain (memorize). This makes adequate sleep essential. Therefore, the night before your exam, don’t start cramming. Do what you can study-wise, then hit the hay early. You’ll want at least eight hours of sleep to rest your mind and help cultivate a strong memory and adequate energy in preparation for your test.
3. Eat a focus-friendly breakfast
Did you know that your ability to focus is often directly related to your blood sugar levels? Have you ever felt that your brain feels foggy and fuzzy when you haven’t eaten for a while? This is definitely not the state you want to be in when you enter the room to take a test.
To ensure that your blood sugar levels are stable and that your body has enough calories and energy to keep your mind active and sharp, eat a healthy breakfast on the day of your exam. If your exam is in the late afternoon or evening, then have a healthy lunch or early dinner.
Basically, you want your meal to include healthy fiber and lean protein. So, something like a few whole grain pancakes with peanut butter and a bowl of fruit would be great. You could also have eggs with an avocado and some tomato or Greek yogurt with fruit or eggs. If you’re eating lunch or an early dinner, choose a large salad with grilled chicken on top or a filet of salmon with a side of steamed veggies. Basically, you want a decently-sized meal that fills you up and keeps you energized.
To up your game even more, consider adding a few drops of CBD oil to your menu. CBD has been known to increase energy and focus, so taking it before an exam can boost your mental acuity significantly. If you’re unsure what type of CBD to buy, choose a local dispensary Tucson area residents frequent, and speak to a knowledgeable employee there. They should be able to point you in the right direction for your needs.
4. Get to know the exam structure, if possible
Most professors will be forthright about how their exams are structured. But keep in mind that this information may not be provided without asking. If your professor doesn’t go over the structure of the exam with your class beforehand, stop by their office during office hours and ask if they can explain the structure to you so that you can prepare. Most professors will be happy to oblige.
There’s something about knowing what types of questions will be on an exam that can help you mentally prepare for the moment that it’s plopped down on the desk in front of you. This will improve your focus because you won’t feel like you’re navigating uncharted territory. If you know that there will be three pages of multiple-choice followed by two longform essays, for example, you’ll mentally-prepare yourself for these two styles of questions.
Still Worried? Discuss Your Options with Your Professor
If you’re still concerned about your ability to focus or your test-taking skills in general, reach out to your professor before the exam (the earlier, the better). In some cases, they may be able to provide you with an extension on the designated test time or a private test-taking room. These aids will ideally facilitate improved concentration and (hopefully!) a better grade on your exam.