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3 Common ACT/SAT Studying Distractions

When you hear the word “distraction,” you probably think of the high tech variety: television, internet, cell phones, and social media. However, distractions can take many forms. In this lesson, we’re going to discuss three common distractions from studying for the ACT or SAT that you might not have considered, as well as strategies for overcoming each.


Distraction: Studying in your room

Studying in your room can be distracting because you probably associate your bedroom with tasks other than studying, namely sleeping and relaxing. This also goes for pretty much any other area of your home that you regularly spend time doing things in other than studying. When all of your usual distractions are within easy reach the temptation to do anything except study can be too great to resist.


Studying in overly-familiar environments can hold you back on the ACT and SAT in other ways as well. Your bed or the living room couch is a far cry from the austere classroom setting of most test sites. If you become used to practicing for the test curled up in a comfortable position, the adjustment to spending three to four hours crammed into a school desk for the real exam can itself be incredibly distracting.


Solution: Set up a designated study area

A dedicated study area doesn’t have to be fancy. A desk or table with a comfortable but firm chair is perfectly adequate for ACT or SAT prep. The key is that your study area should not be associated with any task other than studying. If you don’t have such a space available at home, consider other locations. Many public libraries have study rooms and even those that don’t will usually provide a quiet and focused environment that you can dedicate solely to studying.


Distraction: Overloading on extracurriculars

Sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities have many benefits. They allow you to connect with fellow students who you might never meet otherwise, provide a sense of accomplish, and look great on transcripts. The downside is that extracurriculars typically demand a good deal of your spare time and often have fixed events that you must schedule everything else around. If you are involved in too many extracurricular activities, you will have barely enough time left to complete your homework and study for school exams, to say nothing of preparing for the ACT or SAT.


Solution: Cut back on extracurriculars

Cutting back on the number of extracurricular activities is a painful but necessary step for many students. Often students who take the initiative to study for weeks or months for the ACT or SAT are the same ones who are motivated to go above and beyond the classroom at school. If you are one of these students, you will have to let something go to make room for the test. This might mean temporarily reducing your involvement in one activity or dropping another altogether. While it’s tempting to think that you can “do it all,” it’s just not possible to pile ACT/SAT prep on top of an already full or nearly full schedule. Even if your test scores do not suffer for it, your grades and/or performance in the extracurriculars themselves will.


Distraction: Friends and family

This can be one of the most difficult distractions to overcome. You’re studying for the ACT/SAT when, all of a sudden, your best friend texts you an amazing piece of news. Naturally, you reply, and before you know it, you’ve completely lost track of time. The same can happen if a family member texts or calls, particularly one who you are close to but don’t actually live with.


Solution: Make study time “do not disturb” time

Let your friends and family know when you will be studying. (If you do not already have a regular study schedule, set one up.) Politely inform them that you will not be answering texts and calls because you have made a commitment to yourself to focus solely on the test during this time. Turn off your phone, computer, and any other devices with text or chat programs. If you have a friend or family member who is worried about being able to reach you in a crisis, tell him or her that he or she can call the home phone (if you have one) or your parent’s cell phone, but only in a true emergency.





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