LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

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LSAT Blog
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LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

Postby LSAT Blog » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:25 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/opini ... ction.html

[T]he distraction of an interruption, combined with the brain drain of preparing for that interruption, made our test takers 20 percent dumber. That’s enough to turn a B-minus student (80 percent) into a failure (62 percent).

But in Part 2 of the experiment, the results were not as bleak. This time, part of the group was told they would be interrupted again, but they were actually left alone to focus on the questions.

Again, the Interrupted group underperformed the control group, but this time they closed the gap significantly, to a respectable 14 percent. Dr. Peer said this suggested that people who experience an interruption, and expect another, can learn to improve how they deal with it.

But among the On High Alert group, there was a twist. Those who were warned of an interruption that never came improved by a whopping 43 percent, and even outperformed the control test takers who were left alone. This unexpected, counterintuitive finding requires further research, but Dr. Peer thinks there’s a simple explanation: participants learned from their experience, and their brains adapted.

Somehow, it seems, they marshaled extra brain power to steel themselves against interruption, or perhaps the potential for interruptions served as a kind of deadline that helped them focus even better.



I've only done a quick read of this article, but here are my big take-aways so far:

-Don't try to multitask while LSAT studying.

-However, while studying, and on Test Day itself, be ready for distractions, since they will likely occur to some extent.


What are your thoughts on this?

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TheMostDangerousLG
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Re: LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

Postby TheMostDangerousLG » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:33 pm

It's pretty freaky that both interrupted groups did so poorly in the first part of the experiment, even though they were expecting a distraction. Here's hoping for no distractions on test day!

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Clearly
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Re: LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

Postby Clearly » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:48 pm

I knew I was in trouble when I parked at my test center and noticed it was across the street from a train station.

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mvonh001
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Re: LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:52 pm

Clearlynotstefan wrote:I knew I was in trouble when I parked at my test center and noticed it was across the street from a train station.


No, the study says that people who were not brain dead and expected to get distracted, and were subsequently not distracted, performed better than the control group. Which means that go in expected to get distracted and your mind makes up for this fear of distraction by kicking it into high gear.

-I think-

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Clearly
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Re: LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

Postby Clearly » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:57 pm

mvonh001 wrote:
Clearlynotstefan wrote:I knew I was in trouble when I parked at my test center and noticed it was across the street from a train station.


No, the study says that people who were not brain dead and expected to get distracted, and were subsequently not distracted, performed better than the control group. Which means that go in expected to get distracted and your mind makes up for this fear of distraction by kicking it into high gear.

-I think-

So I wasn't allowed to be distracted, because this study says so?

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Re: LSAT Studying, Distractions, and Interruptions:

Postby LSAT Blog » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:11 pm

Mvonh, your interpretation of the article seems good to me, provided that the interruption of train noise is similar in nature to instant messages.

Clearlynotstefan, assuming the study's results apply to train noise, here's how I see it:

    Some people at your test center may become nervous prior to the test because they think trains will go by and make noise during the exam.

    If a train does go by and make noise, as these people suspected, the study suggests that these people will likely suffer.

    If a train comes by a second or third time after that and makes noise, as these people suspected, the study suggests that these people will likely suffer again, but not as much as they did the first time.

    If no trains go by (and no similar noises occur), despite the fact that these people suspected they would, the study suggests these people will do better than they would have otherwise.


Obviously, not everyone may respond the same way, and the NYTimes article doesn't specify how individuals responded (it just refers to the overall performance of each group). You'd have to look up the study itself or contact the researchers to learn those details.

Additionally, it's important to remember that IMs (and other technology/computer-related interruptions) may be different than train noise in their nature.

I'd suspect that the study's results are more relevant to communication-related interruptions than they are to general outside noise (remember, the study was focused on multi-tasking).

And, as always, there are lots of factors that could affect a study's validity. In general, to know more, reading the study itself and/or contacting the researchers is often best. Journalists misinterpret studies all the time.




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