Using Stress Management Tips to Increase Your SAT Scores
Did you know that at least 30% of Americans suffer from some form of test anxiety? Those of you who may be getting ready to take the SAT may take a little comfort from the fact that you’re not alone, and that people far older than you still find the high-pressure testing environment a struggle. Nevertheless, it is a struggle that anyone can overcome with some good old-fashioned stress management. In fact, you should be Using Stress Management Tips to Increase Your SAT Scores. You’ll be surprised at how much these can help!
1. Don’t think of failure as an option.
The first bad habit that you have to get rid of right away is that failure is an option. Become aware of this fear ahead of time and take an inventory of everything you have learned during school and everything you have studied in the weeks and months leading up to exam day. What’s that, no studying and you have bad grades? Then your problem isn’t test anxiety. It’s lack of preparation. Run along now, and get yourself up to speed. However, for those of you who actually do suffer from test anxiety, be realistic. The information you have learned and internalized over the course of your academic career doesn’t magically fly away to some far-off land for the short time you spend in a testing session. It’s in your head. Let it do its thing.
2. Meditate before the test.
How you perform on the SAT and how you feel prior to the test directly correlate to one another. Therefore, you can gain a lot of ground by putting yourself in the best state of mind before the test begins. Get away from all the distractions. Put away your study materials. Sit or lay down in an environment where you can relax and walk through each section of the test in your mind. Replay questions from your practice exams. Think about the types of material that are covered. Give yourself 40 minutes to an hour of silence and focus.
3. Break up study sessions with exercise.
For most, the difference between a good SAT score and a bad one is how well they study. But there comes a point in your prep time where it can become counterproductive to continue working on the material and taking practice exams. When you reach that point where your mind is starting to wonder, get away from the study location as soon as possible. Walk around. Do some stretching. If a gym is handy, fit in a 30- to 45-minute workout. Allow your mind to work through the material you’ve just studied while your body boosts its heart rate. Once you’re finished with the workout, go back and finish your study session.
4. Focus on breathing patterns.
Pressure will be at its highest point in the moments leading up to the first section of the test. You may find that your hands are clammy, your stomach is doing flip-flops, and your face is flush. These are all normal physical reactions to high levels of stress. But if you will remind yourself to breathe, then you can center your thoughts on the task at hand. Sounds simple, but it’s something so many fail to do. Make a conscious effort. Hear the voice say the words in your head. “Breath in, breathe out. Breathe deep, exhale.” Fashion your breathing into a regular pattern and a lot of those unhelpful physical manifestations will go away.
5. Avoid problem foods the day of and the day before the test.
It may sound unpleasant, but diarrhea or a generally upset stomach can result from stress, and coupling stress with a spicy or unhealthy diet won’t do anything to set you at ease. For the best results, you may wish to eat light meals the day before the test. Stick with the basic food groups and don’t exceed the recommended amount. Furthermore, consider taking probioltic supplements, which are healthy for your intestinal track, and drink lots of water.
6. Walk back your negative expectations and beliefs.
As you weigh the stress of test day, be realistic about the possibilities. Ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that could come of this?” Once you know what such a scenario looks like in your head, it becomes easier to see how often ridiculous these fabrications can be. Walk back those negative expectations and beliefs by focusing in on the “why’s” behind why those things are unlikely to occur. By deconstructing a bad situation, you have placed your SAT score in a pretty sweet position, all before selecting your first answer.
7. Straighten up.
Students tend to gloss over the importance of good posture during the actual test, but they do this at their own peril. As the body becomes racked with stress, it takes a naturally “off” approach to posturing. By consciously keeping rigid and healthy posture while reading through questions and answers, you are taking away one of the key tools that stress has to negatively affect your performance.
8. Know what you know, manage what you don’t.
During timed tests like the SAT especially, there is a tendency to feel “rushed” from the very beginning. Don’t allow this feeling to overwhelm you. Instead realize that there are going to be questions that you know outright while there will be others that cause you to slow down and consider all the options. When first starting out, don’t spend too long on any one question. If you feel yourself starting to read answer responses two and three times, then you should move on to the next question. You will likely find that much of this uncertainty comes from basic nerves. As you start to get some right answers under your belt, your confidence will grow, and you will then be able to take out some of the more difficult questions. Remember, the SAT is a standardized test, so you can save a question for later in the testing session. Don’t try to answer any question before you’ve established the confidence that, yes, you can do this!