By Audrey Hazzard, Premier-Level Tutor
The week leading up to the ACT can be very stressful. Here are some tips for focusing on the most important things to help ensure your success!
I know, you’ve got a thousand things to do and it’s Simply. Not. Possible. But here’s the truth: there are an immutable number of hours in each day. Only a certain number of things can fit into those hours. If you have more things than hours, you have to prioritize. Making a decision to sacrifice sleep is also a decision to sacrifice test performance. This is science, and you’re not exempt from scientific reality.
If you’re already in the habit of ruthlessly going to bed on time, that’s fantastic! If you aren’t, it’s time to begin to cut down on your sleep debt this week. Please don’t think you can stay up all week studying and go to bed at 8:00 PM on Friday night and make it all up. The math just doesn’t work. Think about what you might be able to skip or postpone until after the test, and get to bed earlier.
If you’ve been preparing, you should feel pretty ready by the week before the test. (If you haven’t been studying, and you know you’re not prepared, consider not taking the test.)
Continuing to practice your strategies this week is a great idea. Pick a couple of specific things that you feel you could still improve on. This isn’t the time for radical changes, but maybe you want to decrease your time per Reading passage by one minute. Maybe you need to review punctuation questions one more time, or spend some more time with geometry formulas.
Spend a bit of time each day studying, if you can. But don’t skip sleep to study, don’t plan to take eighteen practice tests this week, and don’t practice when you’re not feeling at least mostly calm, focused, and alert.
Eat well. (But don’t make drastic changes).
This is not the week to start a juice cleanse or to cut out sugar completely. It won’t hurt, however, to eat a few more fruits and vegetables. And if you’re not in the habit of eating breakfast, start now! Breakfast on test day is important, and starting a week ahead will give you a chance to see what works best for you. Does cereal leave you hungry ninety minutes later? Do eggs and bacon make you feel sluggish? Maybe smoothies are more your speed?
Get everything ready ahead of time.
Make sure your ticket, ID, pencils, calculator, watch, and snacks are all ready to go, well in advance. Double-check batteries in anything that needs batteries. Make sure your calculator is approved by ACT. Put everything in one place Friday evening, so that the morning is as simple as can be.
Take it easy on Friday, and wake up early on test day.
Don’t plan to spend Friday working on ACT prep. Use Friday to relax and get to bed early.
In the morning, leave yourself plenty of time to wake up, eat breakfast, and get to the testing center. If you end up with extra time, take a quick walk or read a bit – anything to make sure you’re fully awake, especially if you’re not a morning person!
The ACT can be a stressful experience, but preparation is key! Having a clear plan and getting plenty of rest can ensure that you’re ready to face the test and reach your goals.
This weekly sponsored column is written by Claire Engel of Get Smarter Prep, Kansas City’s premier college prep organization. For more information about their services and how they can help students achieve their goals, visit their website.