As students, you are under constant pressure to perform, especially during the SAT and ACT tests. While some stress is beneficial for focus and concentration, too much can have unexpected consequences. Leave test stress behind…with the following tips!
B R E A T H E DEEPLY: Your breathing patterns deeply influence your ability to handle stressful situations, and a high stakes standardized test or finals certainly qualify as a uniquely stressful situation. Once you enter the room in which you will be taking the exam, try to be mindful of your breathing patterns and avoid taking the quick, shallow breaths that naturally occur when you enter a stressful situation.
CHEWING GUM: Surprisingly enough, several studies indicate that the act of chewing gum is a relatively mild stimulant that benefits test-takers due to improvements in reaction time, accuracy, alertness and mood. The type of gum is mostly irrelevant, but you should be mindful of others in the room and avoid behaviors that might cause them distraction, i.e. smacking noises or blowing bubbles.
SLEEP: (No surprise here!) Study after study has demonstrated that an adequate amount of sleep helps your brain focus and ensures you are able to perform at peak cognitive efficiency. Sleep habits improve cognitive function and have a positive impact on recall and retention; all of which is critical when it comes to your performance on the SAT or ACT.
BODY LANGUAGE: Your body language influences so much more than just how others perceive you; as adopting certain positions can contribute to improved feelings of confidence even when alone in a conscious effort to improve self-confidence. You can consciously reduce any feelings of anxiety and create a substantial amount of self-confidence in your test taking abilities by simply walking tall, sitting up straight, and maintaining the expansive open poses.
BREAKFAST: On the morning of the test, it is incredibly important to keep with your typical breakfast routine. We tend to find comfort and calm in that which is familiar, so following your usual before school schedule and performing all of your morning rituals will reduce some of the natural test-day anxiety. This assumes that your typical morning routine involves eating a solid breakfast.
FEED YOUR BRAIN: We just pointed out how important eating well and having a good breakfast is, but you should also bring a snack to top off the fuel tank during a long test or final exam. This goes hand in hand with the marathon runner who consumes glucose laden gels throughout a race. This provides ample energy throughout the entirety of such a physical and mentally taxing endurance event.
INNER MONOLOGUE: You can use this tool to your advantage through the act of self-priming your brain to perform its absolute best during the course of a test. You don’t have to talk to yourself out loud and draw stares from those around you; you should absolutely use your inner monologue to repeatedly prime your brain to succeed just before you walk into the test and during any breaks.
I hope these tips help you to do your best!