The ACT is tomorrow morning, and some of you or your students will probably be taking it! Hopefully everyone has been studying hard. But no matter how much studying you do, the day before a standardized test can be nerve-wracking. That’s why we’re here to give you 7 ways to prepare for the ACT and maximize your score!
To save yourself some stress the morning of the ACT, it’s best to have your logistics sorted out by the day before. How are you getting to the testing site? If someone is giving you or your student a ride, confirm the time with them the day before so there are no surprises. If the test is being held at a place you’ve never been before, like your local community college or another testing center, look at how long it takes to get there and give yourself some buffer time in case you get lost.
Also, check to see if you have a few good No. 2 pencils with erasers and an approved calculator with working batteries! By checking the day before, it will allow you time to run to the store in case you’re missing anything.
The last thing you should pack are some snacks and a water bottle. You should eat and drink during the break to replenish your energy levels, even if you don’t feel hungry. My recommendation is something sweet, like fruit, since that will instantly boost your energy levels due to the sugar content, and something with long-lasting energy, like peanut butter crackers, which will help you finish strong. However, you should pick whatever snacks you enjoy, because they can help cheer you up if you’re struggling with the test!
Review your test preparation so that they are at the top of your mind for the test the next day. Recall what test-taking strategies you have practiced and that work best for you. It’s okay to review your previous notes and preparation the day before the exam, but try not to do anything other than that. If you play sports, then you know it’s best not to have a strenuous workout the day before the big game. The same concept applies here!
For Transcend Academy students, remember the WAVE – our approach on the process of tackling problems for efficient and effective time management.
Do your best to adequately prepare yourself, both mentally and physically. Not sure how? Try a “power pose.” Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy’s viral TED Talk shares her study on how “power poses” enhances performance. To try it, go to a mirror and look at yourself, stretch out your arms widely, and say “I can do this! I am going to do this!” If power poses are not your thing, then do your thing. It could involve going for a run the night before or mediating before bed or the morning before the test. You want your brain in the best possible place for the ACT, so think about how to encourage that. You can do this!
Do not stay up late the night before the ACT! There are plenty of distractions – friends, Netflix, social media – but it’s important to be well-rested. Teens need approximately 9 hours of sleep to function to the best of their abilities, according to a study by Hopkins Medicine. That isn’t always possible day-to-day, but it should be the aim before a big event like the ACT, SAT, or TOEFL!
What you eat affects how you will perform, which is why it’s important to be eating well leading up to the test. However, just eating a healthy breakfast can make a noticeable difference. Standardized tests take up a lot of energy, so you need to maximize the amount of energy you’re starting with. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, it’s still probably a good idea to eat something small, like a hard boiled egg or a banana, so you have a little fuel in your system.
Caffeine and sugars are not substitutes for proper preparation or rest and should be utilized sparingly. You should not drink highly-caffeinated and sugary drinks right before a test since it can lead to over-stimulation. If you always start your morning with a coffee or a sugary pastry, try to consume it at least a half-hour before the test so you don’t have the jitters during the first section – and then crash later in the test!
If you are prone to test anxiety, there are a few things you can do the day before and during the actual exam to remain calm. One idea is to find a way to distract yourself from your anxiety by relying on your senses. Is there a certain scent you find soothing? Think about it, and track some down the day before the test. Spray a small amount on your wrist or your sweatshirt cuff - enough that you can smell it, but not enough to bother the people around you. Another sense to utilize is touch. Wear the extra-fluffy sweatshirt you own, or tuck something in your pocket, like a smooth rock you found on a beach. Anything will work, as long as it soothes your anxiety when you feel it. Sight is the last sense you can easily utilize. If you feel your anxiety rising, try looking for something to count, like ceiling tiles or dry erase pens. Doing a simple task like this will help your brain calm down and focus.
Another trick for relaxing during the exam is a meditation breathing technique. You should slowly breath in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and then slowly release your breath for 5 seconds. Repeat as necessary. It can help anchor your mind, and will keep your anxiety from spiraling further. If 5 seconds is too long or too short, feel free to adjust the length to what suits you.
Those are our 7 ways to prepare for a standardized test! Hopefully you have found them helpful. If you are taking the ACT tomorrow, best of luck! Let us know how you do.
If you have more than 24 hours to prepare for your next standardized test, be sure to check out Transcend Academy. We provide premier tutoring programs to help you maximize your SAT, ACT, or TOEFL score and get into your best university! Send us a message today.
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