The only way you can pass exams and get great marks is to prepare. The only way to prepare is to study. Study is simply applying your mind to understand and learn a subject. It's 'applying your mind' which is the most difficult. Why? Because we get distracted. There are so many distractions, including MSN, Yahoo, e-mails, internet, blogs, MySpace, iPods, phones, text messages, TV, movies, friends and parents. All these can distract us from staying focused. Let me let you a secret - all of us get distracted. Some people are worse than others and other people have learned to apply their mind. Here are some tips on how you can apply your mind: Turn off things that distract you It's that simple. I know many of you think you are going to miss out on something if you turn off your phone or the internet, but the truth is your friends will still be at school tomorrow, MSN and the internet will still be available when you finish your work. Don't tempt yourself by putting yourself on invisible when using MSN and other chat lines, because when someone logs on, you still get distracted. Make a deal with your friends at what time you can chat and then turn it off to study. Using the internet to research your topic can also end up distracting you, so don't use 'I'm doing research' as an excuse to not get your work done. Find the information, print it out and keep working - the more hours you spend researching, the less time you'll have to do your assignment. Secondly: Study in short blocks Your mind cannot take in too much information, so set up a schedule. If you know you have a short attention span, study for 15 to 20 minutes then take a break for 10 minutes. If you have a long attention span, study for 40 minutes and take a 15-minute break. During your break, you can turn on your phone and MSN to see if you have missed anything. Then turn them off again. Set the alarm on your phone or ask your parents to monitor your time - they will tell you when the 10 minutes is up. Thirdly: Believe in yourself You must believe that you are in control, that you can apply yourself and turn off the distractions when the time is up. By believing in yourself, you will be able to focus and get more done in a shorter period of time.