Archive for the 'Exam Stress and Anxiety' Category

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Having trouble focusing while studying?

If you’re trying to cram for an exam or otherwise trying to get a lot of studying done or reviewing a lot of notes in a short period of time and losing focus, you might want to stare out the window – or even better, take a walk outside.

Seriously, if there are trees out there, it might just help.

According to Attention Restoration Theory (ART) people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature. Natural environments abound with “soft fascinations” which a person can reflect upon in “effortless attention”, such as clouds moving across the sky, leaves rustling in a breeze or water bubbling over rocks in a stream. The theory was developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the 1980s in their book The experience of nature: A psychological perspective and has since been found by others to hold true in medical outcomes as well as intellectual task attention.

If you don’t have direct access to nature, researchers seem to agree that WATCHING VIDEOS might be the next best thing.

I did a quick YouTube search and found this video – I am sure some of you can find a better one that we can share… Please post the YouTube URL as a comment and I’ll publish the best ones!

The key is to envelop your visual sense in the experience…

You only need a few minutes of involuntary ‘effortless’ attention to then return to your task and have full concentration and focus.

Studies Got You Down?

We’ve all been in that place when we wonder if all the hard work and sacrifices are worth it. Click on the hyperlink to have a look at this Infographic on US Education statistics.

If that doesn’t convince you, maybe you need to know the real value of a degree. <- click here for a more uplifting perspective.

One of my very first mentors wisely explained to me that any investment I made in myself, I took with me wherever I would go, for the rest of my life.

I know when you’re young a week or month is a long time and a year seems like forever.

Just think about how quickly the LAST YEAR flew by and that should convince you that it’s a lot shorter than you’re currently thinking!

Don’t ever give up on yourself -
you are your best investment!

Why my study tips work

I think you should watch this video, it’s only 3 minutes long and explains…

How and why my study techniques work

Students Social NOTworking

Today’s post is quick and to the point because The Economist Magazine recently reported that 75% of student time is used for socialising, recreation and sleeping and only 7% for studying.

It’s no mystery why so many students are struggling to get good grades.

Stop reading this and get back to your books!!!!

Learning Paradigms Video

This incredible video was sent to me by Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours in Melbourne, Australia. What amazes me about it is how so much information can be captured in such a short period of time in such a compelling and dynamic way – its’ absolutely mesmerising don’t you think? It’s why my MindMapping course is so popular with students who want to cram for exams at the last minute.

Sleep Reading Take 2

I recently posted a funny blog post on sleep reading. This is a follow up to that… I couldn’t resist.

I don’t want this blog to just be serious, I want you to have fun improving your grades, otherwise what’s the point?!?!

Floatation Tank Helps Improve Grades

If you’re really keen to tap into the limitless potential of your unconscious mind, you’re going to want to have session in a floatation tank. In this day and age of constant interruptions, time slicing and multi-tasking, research reflects it’s having an effect on our ability for deep thinking.

The changing nature of work, study and leisure is rewiring the human brain in such a way that deep reading the concentrated pursuit of linear stories and thought – is being trained out of us.

A University Of California (San Diego) study found that the amount of information the average American processed in 2008 was triple what it was in 1960. This has turned many into pancake people – spread wide and thin.

A series of psychological studies over the past 20 years have shown that after spending time in a quiet rural setting, close to nature, people exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory and improved cognition (learning). Their brains become calmer and sharper.

Underwater Reading

Floatation Tank Improves Your Grades

Now it may not be quick and easy to head out to the country, but a 1-hour session in a floatation tank can do you and your grades – real wonders.

It’s inexpensive and easy to do. The feelings of weightlessness have to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

You should test various approaches to using a floatation tank as a study aid:

  • Try to study before, using the floatation tank to resolve problems, or just do a mental review of what you just studied.
  • Try to start studying before, float and then attack your hardest assignments or problems, reverse the process and see which combination works best for you.

Using a floatation tank as a pattern interrupt will stimulate your creativity and innovative thinking by tapping into the subconscious part of your brain, unleashing the Exponential Potential™ that resides within in.

All you need to do is trust the process and “release yourself from the expectation of the outcome” as Dr Deepak Chopra extols. This is not something you can force. You need to ‘let it happen’ and then marvel in its quasi-magical powers as you become the genius you always knew you could be!

Go from getting Ds to As THIS semester

Get Better Grades THIS Semester

Get Better Grades THIS Semester

When you buy my study book… In chapter 1, I am going to show you HOW you learn so that you can INSTANTLY improve your grades as of your next test, quiz or exam.

With a 100% Money-Back-Guarantee, you have nothing to lose except the A or B on your next test or exam.

I’d like to make it harder and more complicated, but the reality is that it’s quite simple and straightforward – When you know WHAT to do and HOW to do it. It’s all revealed in my study book.

2 Test Taking Tips

Today’s Post is from D.R. DeSilva. He wants a few clarifications on test taking tips.

Dear Sir,
I read the Get the best grades with the least amount of effort book and it was really cool.

So first up I Have Two questions to ask;

  1. When you are studying, you mentioned taking notes for every chapter. Therefore is it wise to create short notes when studying & if it’s so can you tell me what is the correct way of doing it or is there an alternative way of doing it?
  2. In terms of anchors, is it correct if I can use a neck chain while I am studying & as well as for my exams? So is that way of creating an anchor which is correct for an individual?

So Marc, if you mind me calling by your first name, if you don’t mind, I would appreciate if you can answer my following questions ASAP & I find you as a cool guy in particular.

Thanking You !
Yours Sincerely,

D.R Desilva.

First of all, these are great questions. So here are equally great answers!


Taking notes is covered in my study book, but one of the strategies I have expanded on is MindMapping. Mind Mapping is not only a quick and easy note taking method, but because of the VISUAL aspect, it’s a MUCH better way of taking notes than just summarising facts and figures in list form. I created an entire program with a MindMapping artist, Paul Telling, to teach you How To MindMap To Get Better Grades.


Anchors come in all shapes and sizes – you can use anything that helps you remember more when it counts – during exams and tests. Using a neck chain is a great idea EXCEPT that it’s not something that is ACTIVATED when you study if you have it on all the time. You would need to wear it ONLY when studying and when you write exams and tests to be an anchor.

An anchor MUST be ASSOCIATED visually, physically, auditorially, olfactorially (smell) or gustatorially (taste) for it to work. What I am NOT suggesting is that you become superstitious – that’s when it gets out of hand. You just want to TEST what anchors work and don’t work for you. You don’t want to create a psychological crutch that without it you’re ‘lost’.

There is a balance between using anchors and creating superstitions.

So there you have it, two great Test Taking Tips!

How To Study For Your SAT, LSAT or GMAT

If you are studying for your SAT, LSAT or GMAT, here is the best advice I can give you.

Step #1: Buy all the preparation material from the original standardized testing service / organisation. They want you to succeed and are going to be straight with you. Read it all and FOLLOW the recommendations. They created and administer the test. They don’t have any tricks up their sleeves. They have to follow strict protocols and procedures.

Step #2: Only buy a prep program that you know from someone who has used it successfully. Too many of these companies prey on your lack of confidence and exploit you accordingly. First with a pre-set programs and THEN individual tutoring often at exorbitant cost. Let’s face it – if you need tutoring for the test, you have bigger problems…

Step #3: This is the important one. SIMULATE the test as often as time permits. All of these tests have TIME RESTRICTIONS and the key to succeeding is going through it over and over and over again, so that by the time you write the test that counts, you’ve got the PROCESS down pat. I did this to rank in the top percentiles of the GMAT and LSAT tests with LESS stress and better results than my classmates. Success is all about preparation and practice. As a minimum, you want to simulate the test 3 times.

Ideally, you go to the exam room (or one like it) to really put you in the mood. Yes, as you would expect, that’s what I did. I did it in the evening when the classrooms were available, uninterrupted. I think I simulated the tests 4 or 5 times (at 3 hours/test, that’s a BIG commitment, but keep reading why the payoff might be BIGGER than you thought!)

When I suggest simulation, I mean doing it LIKE THE REAL THING. Start and stop ON TIME. Grade yourself and gauge where you lost time and what you can improve. You know from my study book how to do this… This is just a SPECIFIC TASK that you want to PERFECT.

The reason is that standardized testing is important – it can mean the difference between getting in to the school you want or not. (When I placed in the top percentiles, I received invitations from top schools to apply… Imagine that – having THEM chase you! If you didn’t know, the top schools get access to the top students and try to woo them…

That’s why this is so important!

How to focus during exams

Today’a post is from Setimela in South Africa.

Dr Marc Dusssault,

I really appreciate the study and speed learning tips you are giving me but I have a problem losing concentration when writing a test and when doing my assignments. This results in me failing the test. This discourages me hence losing confidence. I am currently doing a part-time diploma in occupational health nursing with WITS University in South Africa. I have already written a test and I didn’t do well. Kindly assist me to pull through.

There is the famous saying we’ve all heard “practice makes perfect”, but it’s actually wrong. It should be “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

I have another blog called the Mindset Of A Champion where you’re find several posts that will help you focus for your exams. It covers topics such as Mental Toughness and deliberate practice concepts.

As a student, if you want to ace your next exam, you need to PRACTICE writing exams – literally. That means creating the same time pressure, even going to your exam room when it’s available to actually PRACTICE writing a fake exam. I know it sounds crazy, but if you actually do it, you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.

When I did my undergraduate degree, about a handful of times, I went into the SAME (or similar) exam room to write exams on my own, when I knew there would be no one there (at night or on weekends). Sometimes I would sit the fake exam for the full 3 hours and often I would just do part of an exam for 1 hour – SAME STRESS.

It takes effort because you have to:

  • Come up with fake questions. (Ideally, you ask a friend to write them up for you)
  • Find when a room is available.
  • Go to (or stay at) school.
  • Role play seriously – even if that means panicking because you can’t answer the questions.
  • You need to grade yourself honestly after-the-fact.

If this is all too much effort – just keep freaking out during exams.

If you want to get better at anything – perfect practice makes perfect…

Of course there is the alternative which is MASTERING your subject matter – but that is a topic for another day.