When you’re jumping out of a plane you don’t need to worry about staying focused. The wind is screaming in your ears from the slid open metal door. Every shake of the plane is felt in your bones. Some guy is screaming instructions at you and you’re hoping that your parachute got packed right. In this moment, you’re not going to be wondering if your roommate remembered to switch the laundry to the dryer. Your brain is absolutely locked on that jump.

Staying focused is one of the number one challenges that students face. It’s not easy to get your brain to where it needs to go with a traditional study routine. Picking up a textbook isn’t even close to as intense as jumping out of a plane. It doesn’t share the same physical stimuli but you can get yourself into a high level of focus when you absolutely need it.

Do you remember that feeling you get when you’re about to take an important test?

Remember that feeling as vividly as you possibly can. If you have to, imagine you’re in the same classroom having the exact same worries. The more you can recreate the moment, the better off you’re going to be. It won’t always work easily but once you get that tension in your body you’re in a good zone to study.

One study strategy I used to use was studying in the last ten minutes before a test (and often never before that time.) In those ten minutes I’d use my short term memory to lock in as much information as I possibly could. While I consider my memory average at best, in those ten minutes I would virtually always remember enough information to score an easy B. (This was mostly in foreign language courses where the information you need to learn is well defined. I wouldn’t recommend it too often.)

This is desperation focus. When you’re desperate your brain will be focused. (The real challenge is getting yourself desperate in the first place.)

A Desperate Focus

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  • February 8, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I have never used this method for a test. However, I do use this method when it comes to writing papers for a class. I get way too, many thought swirling in my head so I end up writing the paper at the last minute. This way have to just write and don’t have the time to over think it.

    I will be back in school in March, and I look forward to trying this out for any test that I have. Finding time to study as an adult learner when you are balancing family and work can be tough. However, I think tips like this may make things a bit easier.

  • February 5, 2016 at 7:44 am

    I used to use the desperate focus method, especially when I haven’t touched the textbook at home! The older I am, the less successful it is. I guess the knowledge that I can always take a make-up test with no repercussions is harming my ability to focus. Luckily, in 5 years I have never failed a test.
    If I ever feel desperate before a test, I’ll remember this tip 😀


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