How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

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trani
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How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby trani » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:34 am

So I am starting to study for the PGRE on Nov. 8. I have probably learned all there is to know about the test itself and how to prepare for it from reading vaious posts. To name a few here:

1) viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1057&hilit=how+to+prepare+for+the+physics+gre
2) http://www.uark.edu/depts/physinfo/wiki ... l:GRE_Prep
- the link above also has all 4 of the currently available tests
3) viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1075

So I am ready to prepare. The problem is I have been ready for a while but have not started. I have a hard time concentrating on it. I work full time and am not in school any more, so no study groups available. So I am looking for some advice on little tricks on how to get my ass to studying, for example: turn off computer and put it away, turn off cell phone, play instrumental music, etc. Unfortunately, even after all these precautions I end up just day-dreaming or something of the sort.

So, any tricks that you use to concentrate? Please share with the rest of us :)

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by trani on Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Imperate
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Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby Imperate » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:15 pm

Sounds like you already know how to concentrate (turning off the computer, tv, phone etc) you're just having trouble actually doing it! It's a bit like people trying to lose weight, they know what they must do (eat such and such foods, go the gym so many times), they just have trouble doing it! Finding the course of action is easy, actually having the discipline to implement it is the hardest part.

It has to be something you do on your own really, nothing anyone says to you here, is going to make you start concetrating and working hard. The only advice I could offer would be to think deeply why you want to pass this PGRE so much, how good it will be to get into your desired programme, what that will mean in terms of your life in a few months, verses how bad you will feel if you don't and what you'll be doing in a few months if you don't. Make sure your brain fully connects to these thoughts, and it just might kickstart you into wanting it. After all although you're working full time and it's going to very hard to get the energy together to get the books out after a day in work, Nov 8th isnt so far off, you will have to endure 2 months of pain then it will all be over, and you can veg out for a bit and reward yourself by doing the things you want.

Set yourself obtainable goals, i.e. if you've already got a study plan and it's not working out, it's better to drop the hours down to something your confident of achieving (even if it's just say an hour a night it's better than doing abs nothing because your daunted by the gargantian task infront of you). Once you hit these goals, step them up to something harder (e.g. 2 hrs a night) etc, continue like this until you're in full swing.

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trani
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:04 am

Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby trani » Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:07 pm

Hi Imperate,

Thank you for your advice.

I must say you are right about *everything* that you pointed out. I think the key fact that I will take away as the most valuable is:

Imperate wrote:...think deeply why you want to pass this PGRE so much, how good it will be to get into your desired programme, what that will mean in terms of your life in a few months, verses how bad you will feel if you don't and what you'll be doing in a few months if you don't. Make sure your brain fully connects...


I don't think my brain has fully connected with the thought of possible failure in the absence of good discipline in preparation. I will work on that, starting...now.
=============================================
And for those of the readers that are looking for other pieces of the solution to this problem, I dare recommend a talk I watched online. It is about time management and is given by Randy Pausch - a professor of computer science from Carnegie Mellon.
CAUTION: it is 1hr and 15min, but it is worth it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTugjssqOT0
=============================================

Cheers,
trani

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quizivex
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Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby quizivex » Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:20 pm

Hi trani,

I have had extreme concentration troubles over the years that continue to this point. There were/are lots of causes in my case which were kindof specific to me, but others are more general and might apply to you too.

For instance... most of the goals we have require long term effort to achieve, but there are two important "groups" I like to divide them into...

1) The kinds of goals in which, if you put the necessary amount of effort into them, you will achieve the desired results with near certainty.

2) The kinds of goals in which, if you put the necessary amount of effort into them, you might achieve the desired result, that is, you have a chance of getting what you want but not nearly a guarantee.

I think in my life I've had some really bad luck with type #2 goals, so as a consequence I have an extremely difficult time focusing on anything that's a crap shoot (for instance, I've put time into lab work over several months just to have the final paper scrapped due to a mistake by the prof.... and I've spent weeks getting to know a girl and "making progress" just to have her suddenly go back to her twisted ex and never talk to me again). I don't have confidence in anything that's determined by chance so I can't focus on it.

The good news about the Physics GRE is that you WILL definitely do much better on the test if you do a comprehensive review of undergrad physics and concentrate on understanding the fundamental ideas. I was able to focus decently on it partly for that reason, and also due to its importance and possible influence on my career, as Imperate suggested. It was my only chance to objectively prove myself once and for all to myself, to my school which had treated me like *** for over 3 years, and to the committees. I used some of the anger I had over my previous academic experience as fuel to motivate me to crush that test.

I don't know what the cause of your concentration problems is, but maybe something I said would help. As far as specific techniques such as turning off the computer, I haven't been able to do that cuz when I'm in my room sometimes my comp feels like my only link to the outside world and I like having facebook/AIM up to feel less alone.

quizivex

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trani
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:04 am

Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby trani » Tue Sep 09, 2008 4:41 pm

Hi quizivex,

That is an interesting distinction. I never thought about it that way. I guess I have been lucky, since for the most part whenever I have put enough effort in something it turns out the way I wanted. The thing is I don't always have the strength or the time to put enough effort.

And, yes, in general the GRE would fall into the first category, except...

I have prepared for exams extremely well before and then failed miserably due to a panic attack that basically blocked all I/O to my brain during the exam. The worst part being, I had no idea that it was gonna happen. I was all optimistic and calm going into the exam...I can only hope this will not happen on the GRE.

I guess to conclude I agree with your categorization aside from some exceptional circumstances and ...I should be studying right now... :)

Thanks for sharing.

Hope you have better luck with category 2 in the future!

trani

doom
Posts: 171
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 6:42 pm

Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby doom » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:46 pm

Here's one: take one of the practice GREs under realistic test conditions. You should be able to find 3 hours to do this pretty soon I would think. Once you grade your test, you'll see how atrociously you performed, and that should be plenty of motivation to get your ass in gear.

On the other hand, you might do pretty well, which might give you some confidence and cause you to slack off. But then you probably don't need to study as much as you originally thought.

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Helio
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Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby Helio » Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:28 am

I didn't have to take the test under test conditions to realize how much it would kick my ***. honestly i could get a 750 to 800 on a dry run on the 0177, but the other three are twice as hard to some extend... so just sit down... get the 400 down and then get the 3000 down (me atm)...

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twistor
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Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby twistor » Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:35 pm

Ritalin.

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trani
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:04 am

Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby trani » Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:58 am

Hm.. That would be easier. I was thinking starting the raw foods diet... they say you become energized... :D

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grae313
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Re: How to concentrate? Any tricks you know?

Postby grae313 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:43 am

I couldn't get myself to start studying until about a month before the exam. I woke up from a horrible dream where it was the day of the GRE, I was in the testing center about to be handed my test, when I realized I had forgotten to study and I knew at that moment that I was going to fail miserably. I woke up and said "OH MY GOD I need to study for the physics GRE!" and after that I was motivated :)

I wish I had started much, much earlier. I know where you are right now, you know you have to but it just doesn't happen. My advice, tell yourself you are going to do 1/2 an hour every day starting at 7:00pm (or something like that) and then DO IT! no excuses :) good luck.




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