Creating a good learning environment

Arrange a suitable place to study

Study as much as possible in the place you have been used to all year - we are creatures of habit and changing your habitat at this stage may be a distraction.

If you have been using the library as your place of study during the semester, you may find it difficult to concentrate if you decide to study at home during study week. For some students it will make no difference, but for others this change of environment will have an effect.

It should be comfortable, quiet, well ventilated and distraction free.

Whether you prefer to be upright at a desk or not, have bright or subdued lighting or background music playing (not the sort that is distracting) etc will be an individual choice. If you are finding it difficult to concentrate, try changing things.

Establish a routine as much as possible

Scheduled times with firm expectations of achievement within each period can improve your concentration - this leads to a habit. You do need to build flexibility into your programme though; if you don’t, interruptions and events can lead to feelings of guilt which will impede your concentration and hence the learning.

Exclude competing Stimuli

Study alone unless specific pair or group activities have been planned; group work can be effective, but gossiping can happen very easily.

Anticipate interruptions and negotiate with family, flatmates, lovers or friends to leave you alone during"well advertised" study times.

Remove distractions from your desk - eg pictures of places you would rather be.

Try to eliminate noise such as loud music, traffic, machinery etc. If it not physically possible to turn it off you may want to change your place of study or use ear muffs.

Have realistic expectations:

Plan for set tasks - ones which you can realistically achieve before you lose concentration. Between 20 and 30 minutes is a typical concentration span for students. This varies according to time of day, subject being studied and your mood. Don’t expect too much of yourself and you won’t be discouraged. Working in short bursts of brilliance is better than long periods of being "half-awake".

Even when your concentration is high, plan to take short breaks; this will prevent tiredness from creeping up on you, and reducing your concentration sooner than need be.