10 Habits to Develop Exam Concentration and Focus

Concentration and focus are critical skills essential for success in both academic and personal life. Concentrating and staying focused allows us to complete tasks efficiently, improve our learning abilities, and achieve our goals.

student studying library


However, developing and maintaining these skills can be challenging in today's world of constant distractions. This article aims to provide you with ten habits you can develop to improve your concentration and focus. By following these habits, you can become more productive, reduce stress, and achieve greater success in your academic and personal life.

10 Habits to Develop Concentration and Focus


Step 1: Establish a Routine

Establishing a routine can significantly impact your ability to concentrate and focus. Following a regular schedule creates a sense of structure and predictability that helps your brain prepare for work and switch into a focused state. Some benefits of establishing a routine include the following:

  • Improved productivity: When you have a routine, you know precisely what needs to be done and when, which can help you avoid procrastination and get more done in less time.

  • Reduced stress: Knowing what to expect daily can help reduce stress and anxiety, as you feel more in control of your time and tasks.

  • Increased self-discipline: Creating a routine requires self-discipline, which can carry over to other areas of your life and help you develop positive habits.

To create a routine that works for you, start by identifying and scheduling your most important tasks when you feel most alert and focused. You can also block out specific times for routine tasks, such as checking email or social media, to avoid getting sidetracked during work. It's essential to be realistic and flexible with your routine and to allow time for unexpected events or breaks. With practice and consistency, establishing a routine can become a powerful tool for improving your concentration and focus.


Step 2: Prioritize Tasks

One of the biggest obstacles to concentration and focus is feeling overwhelmed by a long list of tasks. To get around that inevitable feeling of hopelessness, it's essential to prioritize tasks effectively. Prioritizing tasks means determining which tasks are the most important and must be completed first and which can wait. Following this first step is vital because it allows you to focus your energy and attention on the tasks that matter, and by identifying the most critical tasks, you can ensure that you are making progress and not wasting time on tasks that can wait.

There are several methods you can use to prioritize tasks effectively. One common method is the Eisenhower Matrix, which categorizes tasks based on urgency and importance. Tasks are sorted into four categories:

  1. Urgent and important

  2. Important but not urgent

  3. Urgent but not important

  4. Not urgent and not important

Another method is the ABCDE method, where tasks are assigned a letter from A to E based on priority. 'A' tasks are the most important and must be completed first, while 'E' tasks can be delegated or eliminated entirely. Regardless of the method you choose, the key is to take the time to identify which tasks are the most important and need to be completed first. This will help you stay organized, reduce stress, and ensure that you are making progress toward your goals.


Step 3: Eliminate Distractions

Concentration and focus can be easily disrupted by various distractions. Here are some common distractions that can affect your ability to concentrate and focus:

  • Social media: Checking notifications and scrolling through social media feeds can be a significant distraction and consume a lot of time.

  • Email: Constantly checking email can take away valuable study time.

  • Noise: Loud noises or conversations in the background can make concentrating difficult.

  • Multi-tasking: Trying to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously can lead to a lack of focus and reduced productivity.

  • Procrastination: Putting off tasks until the last minute can add stress and anxiety, making concentrating more difficult.

To eliminate these distractions and improve concentration and focus, here are some techniques you can try:

  • Limit social media and email: Set aside specific times during the day to check and respond to emails and social media notifications.

  • Find a quiet study environment: Choose a quiet space where you can focus without distractions, such as a library or a study room.

  • Use noise-canceling headphones: Noise-cancelling headphones can help block out distracting noise.

  • Single-tasking: Focus on one task at a time to increase productivity and concentration.

  • Break tasks into smaller parts: Breaking down large tasks into smaller pieces can make them more manageable and less overwhelming.


Step 4: Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining concentration and focus throughout the day. Here are some benefits of taking breaks:

  1. Improves productivity: Breaks allow your brain to recharge, which can increase productivity when you return to work.

  2. Reduces stress: Taking breaks can help reduce stress and prevent burnout.

  3. Enhances creativity: Resting your mind can help you think more creatively and come up with new ideas.

So, how often and for how long should you take breaks? The answer depends on your personal preferences and work style. Some people find taking a short break every hour or so helpful, while others prefer longer breaks less frequently.

Generally, taking breaks is vital before you start feeling tired or unfocused. A good rule of thumb is to take a 5-10 minute break for every hour of work. During your break, do something that relaxes your mind and body, such as walking, stretching, or meditating. Remember that taking breaks is not a waste of time – it's essential to a productive and healthy work routine. Incorporate regular intervals into your schedule and see how it can improve your concentration and focus.


Step 5: Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is being present and fully engaged in the moment without judgment. It's a technique that can help improve concentration and focus by reducing distractions and promoting mental clarity. Here are some methods for practicing mindfulness to improve concentration and focus:

  1. Mindful breathing: Take a few deep breaths and focus on your breath. Notice the sensation of air flowing in and out of your body, and let go of any distracting thoughts.

  2. Body scan: Close your eyes and scan your body from head to toe, noticing any sensations or tensions. Take a few deep breaths and release any stress or discomfort.

  3. Mindful observation: Choose an object in your surroundings and focus on it. Notice its shape, color, texture, and other details. Try to observe it without judgment or analysis.

  4. Mindful walking: Take a walk and focus on your body's movements. Notice the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breathing, and the sights and sounds around you.

  5. Mindful eating: Choose a small piece of food and focus on its taste, texture, and aroma. Savor each bite and chew slowly, noticing your mouth and throat sensations.

Practicing mindfulness can improve your ability to concentrate and focus on tasks, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance your overall well-being. Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine can be an effective way to develop good study habits and improve academic performance.


Step 6: Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for developing concentration and focus. Sleep helps to consolidate memories, which is an essential part of the learning process. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can negatively affect cognitive abilities, including attention, memory, and decision-making.

To ensure that you get a good night's sleep, try the following tips:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

  2. Create a sleep-conducive environment: Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and calm. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.

  3. Limit caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine can interfere with sleep, so avoid consuming it close to bedtime. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can disrupt your sleep later at night.

  4. Wind down before bed: Avoid stimulating activities such as using electronic devices or watching TV before bed. Instead, do relaxation activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to calming music.

  5. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Just be sure to finish your workout a few hours before bedtime.


Step 7: Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits for concentration and focus. Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise also improves blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, enhancing cognitive function and improving concentration and focus. In addition, regular exercise can help regulate sleep patterns, leading to improved alertness and productivity during the day.

So what types of exercises are effective for improving concentration and focus:

  1. Aerobic activities like running, cycling, and swimming are particularly effective for enhancing cognitive function. These exercises increase blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, improving concentration and focus.

  2. Yoga and other forms of mindful movements, such as tai chi and qigong, can also improve concentration and focus by promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.

  3. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, can also improve cognitive function, as it can increase blood flow and oxygenation to the brain and improve mood and self-esteem.

Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can have a significant impact on your concentration and focus, as well as your overall well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, five days a week or 150 minutes weekly. By prioritizing exercise, you can improve your cognitive function and set yourself up for academic and personal success.


Step 8: Use Study Techniques

Developing effective study techniques is essential for improving concentration and focus. Here are some techniques to consider:

  1. Active Reading: This involves actively engaging with the text while reading, such as underlining, taking notes, or summarizing key points.

  2. Visual Aids: Visual aids, such as diagrams or mind maps, can help organize information and make it easier to remember.

  3. Flashcards: Flashcards are a great way to memorize information, such as vocabulary or formulas, and test your recall.

  4. Practice Questions: Practicing with sample questions and tests can help you identify areas where you need to improve and get familiar with the test format.

  5. Time Management: Effective time management is crucial for studying. Set specific goals and allocate time for each task to ensure you're making progress towards your goals.

Applying study techniques effectively can help improve concentration and focus. Here are some tips for using study techniques:

  1. Identify Weaknesses: Identify areas where you struggle the most and focus on those areas first, which can help build confidence and improve overall performance.

  2. Regular Practice: Practice consistently, even just for a few minutes a day, can help build good study habits and improve long-term retention of information.

  3. Break Down Tasks: Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks as it can help reduce stress and increase focus.

  4. Set Realistic Goals: Set realistic goals for each study session and track your progress, helping you stay motivated and focused.


Step 9: Work with an SAT Tutor

Working with an SAT tutor improves concentration and focus, especially in academic tasks like SAT preparation. A tutor can help students develop good study habits and improve their academic performance in many ways:

Firstly, a tutor can identify the student's learning style and tailor their approach accordingly. This means that the tutor can provide personalized guidance on how to study effectively and efficiently. They can help students create a study plan, set achievable goals, and develop strategies for staying focused and organized.

Secondly, a tutor can provide one-on-one attention and support, which is especially important for students who struggle with concentration and focus. They can help students overcome learning obstacles and build confidence by providing constructive feedback and positive reinforcement.

Third, a tutor can teach students specific techniques for improving their concentration and focus, such as meditation, visualization, and goal-setting. These techniques can be invaluable tools for students throughout their academic and personal lives.

Finally, working with a tutor can help students stay motivated and accountable for their learning. A tutor can help students set realistic expectations and maintain a consistent study schedule, which can be challenging to do on their own.



Developing good habits to improve concentration and focus is essential to achieving academic success and personal growth. In this article, we have outlined ten effective habits that can help you improve your concentration and focus, including establishing a routine, prioritizing tasks, eliminating distractions, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness, getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, using study techniques, and working with a tutor.

Remember, developing these habits takes time and effort, but with consistency and dedication, you can improve your concentration and focus. Whether you are preparing for the SAT or looking to improve your academic performance in general, these habits can be beneficial.

Master the the SATs and ACTs with the best examination prep experience anywhere. One-on-One sessions with Brian Leaf. The best-selling author of 10 SAT/ACT prep books.


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