Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Even though admission decisions have come out, a new cycle of applications is starting. Do you know what comes with that brand new cycle? If you said standardized testing, then you would be correct. SATs and ACTs are about to taken by a myriad of newly minted high school seniors and high school juniors. I understand that standardized testing is often viewed as a fearful and inhumane practice. However, I’m here to tell you that that is not the case. Standardized tests can be an almost cathartic, if not relaxing experience. Although I have never observed the new testing format for the SATs, I will try to provide general advice for not letting the nerves get the best of you on testing day.

Allow me to paint a picture for you with a small preparation for any upcoming standardized test you have. Imagine yourself walking into the dingy classroom where you will spend the next few hours of your life filling in bubbles and writing trivial essays. Upon sitting down and getting your materials out, you begin to get the jitters. What if my score isn’t high enough? What if someone cheats off of me? What if, what if, what if! Here is where the advice begins and the simulation ends. You have four choices, do you: A. sweat nervously and freak out, B. chew your fingernails and pencil erasers like there is no tomorrow, C. sit in the back so that no one can watch you suffer, or D. sit up straight, relax, and focus. If you picked D, then congratulations you’ve won half the battle. If not, then perhaps this will persuade you.

Students are inherently different in their study preparations and test taking strategies. With that said, you may see the stereotypical test taking all-star that comes in sits down and puts his feet up and just dominates the test. I’ll be honest; I have never seen that happen. BUT DON’T WORRY! As I said before, everyone is different and everyone has different strategies.

You have, for the sake of this example, studied for the past week by reviewing basic math and vocabulary flashcards. If anything, you are more ready than you think you are. You have put in the time and effort to succeed and as such, the chances of success are immensely higher. These standardized tests are not going to have you create a new theory, build a cold fusion reactor, or challenge your beliefs. These tests are just going to evaluate an average level of general knowledge that we all possess and score you based on how well you can regurgitate this knowledge.

Come prepared by bringing any necessary snacks, a myriad of sharpened pencils, and a working calculator and you should be good to go. You will be in that room for most of the morning, so get a good night’s sleep so that you are not only relaxed, but your brain is functioning at full capacity. From my own personal observations, one of the main culprits in test stress stems from a lack of sleep because you are cramming the night before. DO NOT DO THIS! Cramming for any exam is a bad idea; in fact your mind retains information better when it’s broken up into segments and not force fed all at once. So, what should you do the day before a standardized test in order to have minimal stress and maximum relaxation? The answer is easy, do whatever you want to do as long as it takes your mind off of the test. Play video games, listen to music, go to a party (but don’t party too hard), or hang out with friends, because as you spend more time not fretting about the upcoming test, the more relaxed you will become.

With the testing cycle about to being again, it has been a pleasure outlining these tips to ensure that upon completion of the test you can walk out with a full head of hair still. Until next time!

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the author

Carlton Smith is a junior at the College of William and Mary currently majoring in Government. He loves to sing and dance and is involved with one of his school's A Cappella groups known as DoubleTake. He has served as the Class of 2015's Vice President for the past three years.

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