How to Increase Span of Attention while Studying Online

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

How to Increase Span of Attention while Studying Online

One of the biggest myths of the digital age is in education. It concerns students and the belief that due to the immense treasure trove of knowledge that the internet affords, students can now gain all their knowledge from there without the need for ‘experts’. The word ‘experts’ is itself derided in the age of crowd-sourced knowledge. But therein lies a fundamental problem.

While the internet is home to enormous amount of knowledge, it is also home to far more entertainment options. And that is why for every student-hour spent studying online, there are far more distractions. It is even true for millennial workers when we work on our laptops, as our concentration keeps wavering. Social media, popular news, sports, cinema, videos and a lot more compete for our mind’s attention. Researches have also shown how human mind struggles for attention span when reading from a screen as opposed to a book. Add to all this, the present-day concept of multi-tasking meaning that no one really focuses on one thing at a time. Despite all such constraints, students still need to prepare online. There is no CAT preparation without due practice online as that is the mode of the real exam. Following are some such steps students may take to increase their attention span while studying online:

Use Large Screen

A small screen is particularly bad for attention span. I even use WhatsApp on PC as it helps in communication. So, it is advisable that students prepare major material using large screen. For incremental knowledge enhancement where one seeks to merely move up from say level 4 to level 5, small screen may be used. A mobile phone may also be handy for testing oneself while traveling and having nothing else to do. But for understanding the fundamentals of a topic, it is a strict no.

Simulate the Body with Real Exam Time

The biggest challenge with giving online tests is simulating the body clock. Where one is used to offline practice, an online exam setting brings tension pangs to the test applicant. So, to prepare the body best, the aspirant must try practicing tests at the actual time the real paper takes place. For example, if the real CAT exam is from 9 am to 12 noon the previous year, then one must practice full-length tests at that time to simulate the body accordingly. For the post lunch-time slot, many people have the habit of taking a rest. That is why this is a particularly challenging slot for many.

Focus on Results Analysis

While admittedly online test preparation has its flaws, it clearly has some major advantages. These must be leveraged. Nothing can match up to results analysis as online papers can. This is because such online practice papers are given by thousands simultaneously, with intended results emerging almost immediately. The clear graphs and section-wise analysis must be taken up the chin. Even minute granules which would otherwise be missed, are tracked by online tools. Often, we see students having paid for such services, but not taking full advantage precisely because of their attention pangs. So, even if the hard rigour of studies goes awry due to other distractions online, analysis must never be missed. Any tools the online test prep institute is providing need to be used to the hilt. After all, one takes up coaching- online or offline- not just to study, but study within a guided set of tactics.

Video Sessions

Another major advantage online study gives is the abundance of video-based sessions. At HKF for example, the entire study mode is through digital videos. This is highly engaging and multi-dimensional. It allows one to pause the video at times when a break is indeed to be taken and play it back again when the time is right. In this manner, the reduced span of attention can actually be nullified as one does not need to go through a continuous 2-hour class as is the minimum demand at offline CAT coaching centres.

Take Sectional Tests

Many may struggle to keep up their concentration levels when solving a diverse set of questions. Jumping straight from a time-speed-distance question to one involving geometry to profit-and-loss may be massively confusing. Therefore, as a solution, students would be well-advised to start off with sectional tests rather than attempt the full block all at once. Chances of attention wavering reduce when it is just one topic and time-bound. Slowly, one may improve the stamina to do full-length tests.

Temporarily Disable Social Media

We are not advocating totally shutting off social media. It is a very useful tool which allows one to connect with the broader world. It helps foster relations and helps immensely in networking, so critical in b-schools or at work. Another area it helps immensely is in developing ties with alumni post studies are completed from an institute. But, what we are advocating here is to temporarily disable the same. Social media has created in us a sense of habit. We tend to keep checking for messages or notifications every now and then. We see people check out their various social media handles in between movies or even meetings. This sense of anxiety that the medium has created is harmful for mental calmness and concentrating at work. While attempting a paper, complete attention needs to be paid to the same. So, as a practice, CAT aspirants must keep away their social media platforms muted or disabled while studying or undergoing practice tests. This is another aspect for which we prefer the laptop over the mobile phones as it is easier to keep social media off.

These small steps may even be taken when one is not really studying or online. For example, when free instead of indulging on social media using phones or gaming, one can instead read a book. This will help with vocabulary. And it will help in honing the patience so lacking among the millennials attempting the CAT paper today. It will reduce the anxiety for social media during the paper as anyway they aren’t on it all the time.

This article was contributed by Aritro.
Aritro is an accomplished teacher and trainer with more than 8 years of experience in this field. He has worked with colleges, corporates and coaching institutes. He is also an established blogger having written extensively in the fields of education, environment, business, football, cinema, travel and food. In 2018 he was the Mentor to All India Rank 1 in the DUJAT exam.

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