So you’ve taken a class, or even had a private tutor help you prepare for your test. Is there anything else you can do?
While private tutoring remains the most efficient way to improve your score, here are five crucial tips that will help give you that extra boost come test time!
Take as many full-length practice tests as possible.
One of the most difficult things to prepare for is the length of the SAT or ACT test. The large majority of students will not have taken tests exceeding an hour in length, with the exception of AP exams. The best way to improve your mental stamina and long-term focus is to PRACTICE! Due to the large time commitment required, a lot of students only focus on content and basic strategies. However, this will often lead to poorer performance on the latter sections of the test, resulting in a lower overall score. Taking multiple full-length tests under simulated test-taking conditions will give you the time to hash out any other potential concerns that might arise, such as how to plan for bathroom breaks, grab a snack, or even how much water you should drink (especially if you have a small bladder). Even better, take these practice tests on a weekend morning since you may not be used to waking up early on the weekends! Click here to request a free diagnostic test!
Watch what you eat!
This may not seem like it has anything to do with the SAT, but stick with me for a second. We’ve all had a little too much spice on that burrito or eaten a really greasy (some might argue delicious) meal. We’ve also had to deal with the consequences. The last thing you want to encounter on test day is indigestion (which can be exacerbated by stress) or even diarrhea! Stick with a dinner and light breakfast that you know won’t give you an upset stomach. Heading into a test with food coma can reduce your ability to focus drastically, so a light healthy breakfast composed of the basic food groups is a good way to go. Bringing a quick and easy-to-eat snack like a granola bar and water bottle in case you get hungry is also a great idea. This will help combat any fatigue and lack of focus that often accompanies a growling stomach.
Try to put yourself in the right state of mind before the test.
Your performance on any test and your state of mind are directly related to one another. Just like a race-car driver might envision the entire length of track and winning the race, try to walk through each section of the test in your mind. Try to recall difficult questions and how you were able to solve them. For the SAT, simply thinking over literary texts or historical events that you can use as support in your essay will save precious minutes during your first section. Spending 10 – 15 minutes clearing your mind of distractions before the test can help accomplish a laser-like focus that will help you get started on the right foot. To put it simply, try to clear your mind of any unrelated worries like ‘Who’s going to prom?’ and concentrate on remembering vocab words and math formulas.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Ok, so you’ve cleared your mind and you’re taking the SAT / ACT when you see some vocab that you don’t know. Uh oh… what does this word mean?! What do I do?!!! It’s easy to start panicking in a high-pressure situation. An easy way to calm yourself down is to focus on your breathing. Taking 30 seconds to calm down and get back into focus will be much more helpful for your testing than trying to power through it.
Sit up straight!
All right mom…. I heard you the first time. A lot of you may have heard this before, but sitting up straight has been known to counteract the negative effects of stress. This one might require some practice, especially if you tend to slouch, but with a little practice it can have profound effects. Work on this when taking your practice tests!
While good preparation is still the most important key to test-taking success, following these tips can give you the extra edge you need to reach, or even exceed your goal!