Find out how to improve concentration during the study and take your ACCA exam technique to the next level with our 11 top tactics to boost your brainpower.
Of all the ACCA study and exam tips, knowing how to improve your concentration has to be the most important.
Concentration is the difference between wasting hours mindlessly skimming your ACCA notes and having a really productive study session that will pay dividends in the exam, particularly as you near exam time.
1. Fill up the tank
Just like a car, your body and mind will splutter to a halt if you don’t fill up the tank. Fuel your concentration by ensuring you’re meeting your nutritional requirements.
Your aim is to stabilise your blood sugar, avoiding the peaks and troughs that lead to poor concentration.
For this reason, avoid snacking on foods that cause sudden blood sugar spikes and don’t skip meals. Especially breakfast. I might sound like your mother, but it’s true: a good breakfast really will set you up for a productive day at your exam.
2. Ditch caffeine for water
If you come to rely on a shot of the C-stuff to get your juices flowing, you’ll find yourself less able to function without it. It turns into an aggressive cycle, where you end up needing more and more caffeine even to get your brain into gear.
Drink more water instead, as studies have shown that even mild dehydration can lead to inattention. It might be a little boring as tips go, but it really does need saying.
3. Break it up
The ACCA might feel like a marathon, but you’ll be better disposed to concentrate if you treat revision like a series of short sprints.
That’s why we break up the Learnsignal ACCA study materials into small chunks – because it’s easier to retain information in smaller amounts. So, don’t settle down to a mammoth revision session without scheduling regular breaks.
4. Don’t multi-task
I’m sure we all know someone who wears their frantic schedule as a badge of honour – as if being completely flat-out busy means you’re being productive. Don’t fall into that trap. Multi-tasking might make you feel like you’re getting a lot done, but you’re likely not.
In fact, multitasking leads to a continuous state of partial concentration rather than any meaningful periods of actual, full concentration.
Plus, it’s been proven to be bad for your health too. None of these tips will mean anything if you don’t look after yourself long-term.
5. Set objectives, not deadlines
When writing your ACCA revision plan, you should set clear objectives rather than focus on how long you plan to revise.
This will centre your focus on what you need to achieve. Setting an arbitrary time deadline encourages you to spend a certain period ‘studying’ without encouraging you to actually concentrate during that time.
6. Switch it up
Your brain is like any other muscle. It gets tired and needs to recover by doing something less taxing. Do this by switching up your ACCA revision topics, interspersing more difficult revisions with topics you’re already confident on.
Overstudying – continuing to study when you already know the topic well – is a highly effective ACCA study technique, so why not work some overstudy time between topics you’re learning afresh?
Switching topics regularly will also help stop you from getting bored – and boredom is a real concentration killer.
We’ve all been guilty of dropping exercise off the to-do list when we’re busy, but that’s a mistake.
Exercise helps trigger the release of chemicals in your brain that have been shown to aid concentration, plus it kick-starts your metabolism and improves your mood. If you’re feeling better, you’ll perform better in the exam.
8. Organise and prioritise
If you’re anything like me, a big hurdle to getting things done is feeling overwhelmed by how many things I have to get done.
Make your ACCA revision easier to face by writing a list and prioritising each task. You’ll be much more likely to concentrate if the task feels manageable.
9. Brain Splurge
If you’re one of those people who has a thousand and one things running through their mind all the time, this is for you. You’re constantly plagued by thoughts jumping into your head, and pushing them out again is difficult. You don’t want to forget something important, right?
I’m like that, and what really worked for me is keeping a notepad and pen nearby. I’ll get on with whatever I should be concentrating on, and whenever a rogue thought threatens my attention, I’ll take 5 seconds to write it down.
That’s it. I don’t do anything with it, and I get straight back to work. The point is that then my subconscious knows I won’t forget, so I can let the thought go. FYI, if you ever struggle to sleep, the same tactic can work wonders there too.
10. Bargain with yourself
If you’re really struggling to concentrate, try making a bargain with yourself. As ACCA revision tips go, it might be a little unconventional, but I’ve always found it to work. For example, try promising yourself you’ll work for just ten minutes.
Often, you’ll find that you break the initial pain barrier and keep concentrating beyond ten minutes, but even if you don’t, you’ve achieved something. If you get into a negative cycle of always putting revision off, you’ll talk yourself out of doing anything at all.
11. Be Mindful
Have you heard of mindfulness? It’s the idea of consciously doing something rather than doing it by rote. If you want proof that mindfulness increases concentration, just think of the last time you went on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/whatever and lost hours mindlessly browsing…
If you’re not conscious of yourself at the moment, you’ll be more likely to waste hours skimming notes without actively concentrating. Taking regular breaks helps, as you’ll be more engaged, as does create clear objectives or session ‘to-dos’.
It’s really about checking back on your progress regularly, so you become aware that you’re making progress in the first place (or, if not, you can catch yourself in the act and get back on track).
Do you have any ACCA revision tips to add to our list? Share your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you.