IAS, GATE, CAT – though the goals of all students are different, the single thing that stays common among them is the struggle to concentrate and stay focused. In the year 2017, about 10 lakh people competed for 980 vacancies to become IAS Officers. But how did these students do it?
The ratio of competing students to successful ones alone can give you a good idea of the levels of concentration these candidates must have possessed for them to clear the exam. Succeeding in these exams is a tough job, but gaining the concentration power to help crack them is not rocket science. If we could understand the previously successful student’s strategy, it will help us to a great extent.
A 2010 neuroscience study on primates revealed that proper exercise increases blood flow to the brain. This has even helped monkeys perform tasks twice as fast as monkeys who did not work out. This does not mean you undertake a heavyweight workout routine. A good stretch and a brisk walk will do the trick.
Working out releases endorphins and oxytocin; chemicals responsible for being happy and staying positive. They also aid in the production of dopamine, the happy chemical.
When you workout regularly, the production of these chemicals help you stay focused throughout the day and improves your concentration power.
Did you know that the brain is made up of 85% of water? Lack of water can lead to decrease in short-term memory which could affect your overall performance for exams such as IAS, which requires focused memory and concentration power. Drinking water helps in boosting your arithmetic and psychomotor skills too thereby increasing the reaction time of your brain. This helps in developing a quick response time for problem-solving.
3. The 20-20-20 rule
Studying for competitive exams has never been so easy with the access to a vast bank of knowledge on the internet. But looking at a screen can have a detrimental effect on your overall health. Staring at a bright screen can cause headaches and other ailments which can affect your concentration levels. The 20-20-20 rule states that for every 20 minutes, look away from your laptop screen at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
4. Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking gets you nowhere. Though it looks as if you are making progress at a handful of things while saving time, ultimately, multitasking will slow your brain’s processing time. It will also decrease your memory power which would, in turn, affect your performance in the exams.
So for instance, if you go through your IAS books while making a sandwich and keeping an eye on the washing machine, there is a high chance of you forgetting a vital topic or worse, eating a bad sandwich! This is because unknowingly, our energy investment will be divided hindering progress at any task at hand.
5. Mnemonic devices
Mnemonics are memory tools which help remember large amounts of information by breaking them down into visual cues, acronyms or even rhymes. These cues hold value in your day to day life. For instance, the acronym HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) is used to remember the five great lakes. Mnemonic Devices are not just memory tools; they also help keep you focussed as mnemonics are usually enticing and unorthodox.
6. Disconnect and Reconnect
It is understandable that you have a rigorous timetable to help you crack that intimidating IAS exam, the competitive CAT or any other such exams. But once in a while, take out time to go for a walk, and try to take a break. This will help your brain to process and store all the new knowledge that you have garnered. It will refresh your body and mind, and give you time and space to focus on your goals.
Sleeping is one of the most important and underrated aspects. Preparation for the IAS is synonymous with burning the midnight oil in trying to study and memorise topics. But this practice is hazardous. Sleeping is very important when it comes to boosting the learning abilities of the brain. An uninterrupted 7 hours of sleep not only improves the quality of clear thinking in a person, but the resting time also tends to serve as practice for newly learned skills. Hence sleep should never be ignored!
Bonus Memory tips
UK Psychologists claim that chewing gum increases the flow of oxygen to the brain which increases alertness and hence improves concentration and memory power.
Discipline outlives Motivation:
One of the most critical aspects of improving any skill is to hold a strict discipline towards it. Motivation, however strong, is only temporary. It can even fade away just after you read this article. But maintaining a regimen of following through with a plan is far more important and permanent.