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Study Skills

Session 2

Session 2 Motivation and concentration: what makes you study and are you able to concentrate? 

You can nurture motivating thoughts and get rid of negative ones so that you focus on the task at hand. Psychologists call this “the power of belief”. 

According to psychologists there are 3 main reasons for loosing motivation:

  • Lack of confidence – if you don’t think you can succeed, you don’t even try. Don’t focus on past failures and personal weaknesses. Try instead to focus on past success and be realistic. You may not be perfect but you are not an idiot either. 
  • Lack of clear goals – if you haven’t made your goals clear, it is not possible to work to achieve them. Try to focus on short-term achievable goals and define how you should reach each of them. Consider long-term goals and relate the short-term goals to them. If you want to have your IB diploma in two years, you need strategies to achieve it. It is not enough to dream. 
  • Lack of strategies to reach the goals – if there are no specific plans on how to take action in a focused way, there is not much chance of success. Improving your study skills (e.g. planning, optimizing reading and writing skills) is an efficient strategy. Learning to prioritize, self-motivate and overcome setbacks is another. Psychologists have found that self-discipline is more important in success than IQ: take a look.


Motivation is important but how can you motivate yourself? Some tricks to help you if you don’t really feel like doing what you have to do. 

Many students complain that they cannot concentrate. Consider some of the questions and answers here to help you improve your concentration. Concentration while you work also has a beneficial effect on your memory. 

  • Take a pre-test to get an idea of your own concentration skills
  • The art of concentration and how to improve it: try this activity and improve your concentration and memory

More interactive material for this session 
Test your study skills

Strengths and weaknesses: use the SWOT to identify your own

Some extra stuff – just for fun 
Who’s in charge? You or factors outside yourself: The test of ‘locus of control’

  • Locus of control - a psychological concept about feelings of control over your life: are you in control? Or are you being controlled by factors outside you?

This tutorial can give you information about psychological issues involved in approaches to studying. The concept of ‘locus of control’ is described in relation to education and it may be useful for students (and teachers) to know what factors can influence efficient learning.