How to Boost Concentration During GMAT Studies
Students preparing for the GMAT are often tenacious and goal-oriented. However, even the most dedicated test takers can be derailed by a lack of concentration at times while preparing for the exam. Don’t worry: it’s perfectly normal.
Here are three strategies to boost your concentration levels. The best part? You can apply these strategies to not just your GMAT success, but for everything on your to-do list.
1. Be actively present
At one point or another, everyone struggles to simply be present. When you’re in a work meeting, it’s easy be distracted by mounting email alerts and to-do lists. Even though you’re physically in the room with your team, you’re not actively present and engaged in the conversation at hand.
The same can be said of studying for the GMAT, and the fix is fairly straightforward.
The Counseling Services department at Kansas State University outlines a simple exercise you can use when you come across a particularly dry Reading Comprehension passage or a Quantitative question you find difficult. This will take some practice, but just like any question type you struggle with on the GMAT, you will improve if you’re willing to put in the work, which includes the following steps:
- Pay attention to the task at hand for as long as you can.
- When your mind wanders, say to yourself, “Be here now.”
- Bring your attention back to the task at hand.
- Repeat each time you find your attention drifting.
As challenging as simply being present can be, it is a skill you can build over time, especially when it comes to preparing for the GMAT.
2. Be proactive about self-care
We’ve discussed the negative effects of GMAT burnout in depth. However, we would be remiss if we said it was easy to prioritize self-care, especially when business school application deadlines are looming and you’re in a pinch to get your target GMAT score.
Having said that, if you’re having difficulty finding time for self-care, be proactive about making time for yourself.
The Center for Disease Prevention and Control says that while some level of stress leads to increased productivity, overly stressful work environments actually contribute to an increased level of absenteeism, tardiness and overall negative attitudes. No matter how far you have to climb to achieve your target GMAT score, find something that you enjoy doing (unrelated to the exam) and put a block of time on a living calendar, whether that’s an online or physical calendar. When that time comes around, honor it. Put down whatever you’re working on and take the time to recharge. When that time is over, feel free to continue whatever you were doing, but until then, make your own self-care a priority.
3. Pick a dedicated workspace in your home
Although test day can be a stressful time, it does make for an ideal environment for you to focus only on the exam in front of you. The same cannot be said of the environment in which you study.
It’s no secret that the best predictor of future GMAT performance is a full-length practice exam, under the same timed conditions you’ll be under on test day. However, it can be tempting to modify this by adding luxuries you won’t have on test day, including music in the background, additional bathroom breaks and taking the practice exam on a living room sofa. When these luxuries are made a part of the practice exam experience, students are sometimes disappointed on test day to find their official score is much lower than they anticipated.
To avoid this disappointment, and also to practice focusing only on the GMAT while you’re studying, make a space in your home dedicated to your preparation. It doesn’t need to be anything spectacular, but even if it’s simply a small corner in your living room, make sure your work doesn’t leave that area. More importantly, make sure your work doesn’t come with you into other areas of your home. You’ll find this separation will make it much easier to focus when you’ve hunkered down in your study space, and will also help you unplug when you’re not in that space.
For GMAT test prep strategies beyond concentration, visit our blog posts on dividing your GMAT prep into what you can do and what you must do, as well as how to maximize the final days leading up to your GMAT date.
This post appeared first on the Economist GMAT Tutor blog.