You’ve taken a practice test. You know what you have to work on. All your materials are laid out, but you keep getting distracted from studying for the SAT. How do you stay focused on studying for the SAT?
1. Remove Distractions From Your Space
Take anything in your study space that might tempt you to distraction and put it somewhere you can’t see it. When something is out of sight, we’re less likely to use it. Even just putting your game system in a drawer rather than your desk can help boost your focus. Give your study brain a helping hand and move distractions elsewhere.
2. Keep Helpful Things Nearby
On the other hand, keep stuff that you do want to make use of, like your calculator or SAT book somewhere prominent where you can see it. This works in other areas of your life as well. If you want to make sure you drink more water, keep a glass of it by you while you work. Make sure any test materials you need are close at hand, so you don’t have to get up and break your study session’s flow.
3. Know What You Have To Do
Just “studying for the SAT” can feel like a huge task, and your brain can tire itself out fighting about where to start. Before you get into a study session, know what you’re going to do. Are you going to sit down and complete the Math Calculator section? Just one historical passage of reading? The more specific you are about what you’re going to do, the more likely you are to follow through. Set clear, specific goals for yourself before studying.
4. Work in Chunks
If starting seems especially hard, try the 80-20 rule. Tell yourself that when you’re sitting down, you only have to get a fifth of it done this sitting. You might end up doing more, but telling yourself this will take some of the paralyzing pressure off your shoulders. If any task seems vastly intimidating, try telling yourself that you’ll just get a little bit of it done, and then keep coming back to it. Working in small chunks helps you build momentum and disassociate the act from anxiety.
5. Set Timers
Set timers for yourself. The SAT sections themselves have times, but it’s not always efficient to study with time pressure, especially early on. Another method is the pomodoro method, which breaks a project twenty-five minutes of work and then five minute breaks. Personally, for any task that requires me to focus, I use Forest to lock down my phone for about thirty minutes at a time. That way, when I go to check my phone, I see a timer of how many minutes are left. Experiment with work-to-break ratios, and see what works for you.
6. Take Care Of Yourself
At the end of the day, a healthy brain is a brain that can focus easier. Make sure you’re eating well, getting around 7 hours of sleep, and averaging at least 10 minutes of light exercise a day. Maintaining that baseline will help clear your thoughts and make your study sessions more efficient, as well as wildly boost your ability to focus and receive serotonin for completing tasks.
7. Sit Down and Do It
Now, the only thing left to do is get started. It won’t get done unless you start. Go clear your desk, set some goals, and get started! I believe in you!
That’s all! Now go forth and start studying for your SAT! If you want more SAT and ACT prep advice sure to join our mailing list for a free 27-item checklist and 30-day free SAT email course.