6 ways to improve your focus for the board exams

The date of your upcoming professional board exam is nearing. Whether it is next year or the next months or weeks, most of us have trouble focusing on our studies. Outside pressure from your family and peers often makes us nervous rather than help us focus. There is temptation from your barkada and social media to waste your time. In your studying, you should have less time for distractions and we know it, but they can't be avoided. Here are some tips to minimize them.

1. Deactivate Facebook.
As a board exam topnotcher, you can trust me when I say that this works. I knew how much time I could waste while browsing social media sites. It is tempting to post about our struggles, pictures of us studying, or what else. Some people I knew posted about their reviews, but ended up failing the board! Its better if we don't post anything at all, and just post about our success if we pass the board!

I strongly recommend deactivating Facebook, and focus on studying and rather than posting about it. I recommend avoiding social media during and after the board. Sometimes, people we know barrage us with questions and we can't relax about the results. You can always activate again after the results.

2. Play brain games.
Your brain needs a break. Like your body, it also needs exercise to work properly. When I was exhausted after hours of studying, I played abstract game apps, Lumosity and Memorado. They claim to help you improve your memory and retention, and they also worked for me. In my experience, I can focus better after playing these games.

Remember, though, that you should focus more time on studying than playing games! Just use them for fun, and trying it won't hurt you.

3. Use the Pomodoro technique during study sessions.
Studying for long hours can be exhausting, and sometimes we forget what we study instead of remembering! If you find it hard to focus for hours (and few of us can), it is recommended that studying for short periods with short breaks is more effective. With the Pomodoro Technique (named after a kitchen timer), we focus on the task for 25 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. For example, your 1-hour study session could be broken into: 25 min. study - 5 min. break - 25 min. study - 5 min. break.

You can change the time according to your preferences. There are many timer apps available now, but I personally like using Tide.

4. Know yourself and your ideal studying environment. 
Through your college life, you might already have an idea of your best studying environment. Some people prefer silence, some can study better with background music. Some absorb information best by reading and writing, some through listening. Some study well during mornings, some can't study until evening. Find out how you learn best and use that.

5. Take a break!
The pressure may make you feel that you have to study 24/7. But taking breaks help us process information better, and make us more ready for our next study session.

6. Pray.
Everyday. You don't need the amulets from Quiapo, you don't need to be blessed with holy water, you don't need to make offerings to whatever saint in the hope to grant you favor to pass. A simple, sincere prayer to God is better than all these useless rituals. Study hard, and pray that you will be able to study well in your review, pass the exam, and especially about your professional life after the exam.

As I always said before, the exam is just a passing thing, it isn't everything. We must still work hard in our professions and learn, learn, learn.

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