The Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is a standardized test normally used for graduate school admissions, so you are already motivated to do well. As studying for the MAT becomes hard, time-consuming, tedious, or just plain boring, it’ll be tough to maintain your motivation to continue your quest.
So how can you increase your current level of drive? Consider a few ideas.
Tell others. Talk to your close friends about your study plan and graduate school goals, and they’ll probably lend you their support.
Schedule a celebration. After your MAT test date, schedule a get-together or ceremony of some kind to commemorate your achievement.
Check in with your long-term goal. Spend time every week visualizing your desired outcome and how good it will feel to get there. Check off tasks as you complete them.
Stay positive. Negative thoughts may creep into your awareness from time to time. If you catch yourself thinking pessimistically, notice it but don’t dwell on the negative. Focus on the benefits of what you’re doing instead.
Avoid procrastination in preparing for the MAT
Procrastination is another tendency you may have to battle as you attack the MAT. A little bit of procrastination or laziness is only human. But if you find yourself continually putting off your scheduled study activities, you’re going to have to push yourself a bit harder.
Procrastinating also may be a sign that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Adjust your study time downward and try to stick to the revised schedule for a week. Then try ramping up the study time again.
Break down large tasks into discrete action steps. For example, when studying content, assign yourself a manageable number of chapters or pages at a time, and then take a break.
Turn off the technology. With so many distractions in today’s world (mobile phones, TV, Internet, tablets, and more), turning off the devices that you know are likely to distract you is simplest. The world will still be there after your study session.
Speaking of distractions, many people try to do multiple things at once. Some people believe that multitasking can make you more productive. True, you can do more than one thing concurrently, but what about quality? Your brain is designed to focus on one thing at a time. Don’t mar your focus by doing too many things at once.
Keep in mind quality vs. quantity
Be sure to pay attention to the quality of your studying. You may be the type who can read a novel from start to finish in one sitting, or you may have trouble sitting through a whole movie. Regardless of where you’re starting, you’ll want to be aware of your attention span and, most likely, gradually increase it.
In the beginning of your studying, be aware of the point when your attention starts to lapse. At that point, try to continue for about five more minutes and then give yourself a quick break. Stand up, move around, and drink some water. Then keep studying. This routine slowly builds your tolerance for studying without letting you spend too long in a state in which you’re not concentrating.
Keep your awareness level high. On some days, your ability to study may differ for a variety of factors. No problem — just be careful not to study for too long when you’re unable to focus. Better to recognize you’re feeling burned out and take a break — or even a nap!
It’s usually more efficient to study for an hour or two at a time than to try to study all day.