8 Ways to decrease your SAT test stress

Exam: Test Prep SAT Test - Scholastic Assessment Test: Reading, Writing and Language, Mathematics


We all know taking tests is stressful. The more the test/exam date approaches, the more giggly and weird our insides get. But hey, it’s normal to be stressed over a test, especially one like the SAT, notorious for its difficulty. In fact it’d be weird not to get butterflies in your stomach over an exam which may decide your place in the world, but still, you need to remember, stress helps you not, so here are 8 ways for you to get rid of it.

1.  Convince yourself it is what you really need.

This may sound strange, but the first way to get rid of stress is to get rid of doubt. If you can convince yourself that the SAT is really what you need, to get yourself into a committed stance, a stance that does not allow for retreat or compromise, then do it. You need to take it, and you need to take it with the best score possible. But before you go all “Rambo” on that, ask yourself if it is what you really need. Remember, there’s the ACT test as an alternative. Each of the two has both its advantages and disadvantages, so weigh them both before making your decision. Speaking of which, before you jump in and take the test, see if the university you want to apply to asks for it. (some universities will not ask for ACT/SAT scores, while others will, but it is important for you to know which do and don’t)

2.  Magic and Voodoo.

I know this is going to be weird, but bear with me. This step is all about a morale boost, giving you as they call it, the “voodoo edge”. I’m not going, however to ask you to open up the big old black grimoar that you may or may not find up in your attic, or sacrifice a box of chocolates in the cemetery at undead tea-time, that’d be silly. That being said though, if you do have some sort of good-luck charm or mystic spell, it would be good to have it with you (if feasible). Get a charm, like a coin or a clover (a graphic calculator would do nicely too), or buy a cake and eat it with your friends for your good fortune and clarity at the test.If not, at least a simple prayer at your local church or even saying something like: "On this test I take today,I will get no less than (insert desired grade).Wind, earth, fire, and sea; As I Say, So Shall It Be!".People need this sense of ceremony, and doing something of the kind would make for a great start. Plus, it’s fun to play magic (but no dead cats please).

3.  Read the study material.

Fun as it may be, magic can only get you a morale boost. If you really want to get rid of stress, make it so you have no reason to have any. It might be a no-brainer, but study! However, studying, or better said, preparing for the SAT differs greatly from preparing for a school test, as the contents of the test do not mirror school curriculum. Edward Carroll, someone who takes tests for a living, said that the SAT first and foremost measures how well people will do on the SAT. It does not measure raw ability, but rather attention span and observation skills, so of course, preparing for the SAT will differ greatly from normal “study this textbook, memorize this phrase type of learning.” Their type of questions is more like: “X+5=7”; What’s “X+2?”, with multiple answers. If you pick 2, you lost the points. So to know these traps that fill the test, get their learning materials (The official SAT study guide, but always check for the latest version), or even download the SAT UP app.

4.  Find a “Therapy group”.

Not the AA kind, but rather a group of people that you know are taking the SAT at the same time as you, or have taken it in the past. It’s easy to find camaraderie with fellow examinees, and having the wisdom of people who took the exam would be a great help. If you don’t know anyone, search for someone online: forums, facebook, heck, you can even give chatroulette a shot!

Or, if you can, join a prep-school, like the Ivy Bound Test Prep, which boasts at least a 150 point increase, or PrepScholar (240 points increase). Studies, from Oxford or Ohio for example, have shown that students who follow prep-school, or any kinds of prep-class or tutoring, do score averagely higher than others (no figure?).

5.  Take a few practice tests.

Again, another no-brainer, but still, for these types of tests, taking a practice run again, and again will be the most help by far. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of practice exams and tests on the SAT main site. They even have fully-timed mock-tests!

6.  Read and relax.

However much you practice or study for it, you must realize that this test will punish you for being stressed. It is known that slackers that do nothing in school come and ace the SAT while ace students get mediocre points. That is both due to the time constraint and built in traps, and stress. If you get into it stressed, you will pay more attention to being stressed than the actual exam. Just remember, the exam isn’t in itself a hard one, but rather, it mimics the stressful feel of college. So lay back a while right before the exam. If you still can’t relax, grab a book and read. You can fool yourself that you are studying up for the reading part of the exam.

7.  Write your excuse list beforehand.

This is more of a stress-relieve than you may think.  And it’s as simple as it sounds. Pick up a pen and paper, and start imagining excuses for why you didn’t get a bigger grade than you did at the exam beforehand (doesn’t matter if it’s a good grade), that you can say to your friends and family once you get the results. If you have some literary talent, make them as funny as possible; remember “My dog ate my homework” is a classic because it is still funny. Why? Well because the dog… oh, why make the list? It will be more fun than you can imagine, plus at one point, when you are trying to figure out reasons why you couldn’t get a bigger score you will realize just how stupid they are, and plus, making fun of it will help calm you down and give you a smile while at it too.

8.  Take the exam!

A Band-Aid is removed suddenly. If all else fails, just go and take the exam! Usually, and I speak this from my own experience, no matter how stressed you are before the exam, once you get into the exam room and into “the exam mode” you will be (hopefully) so concentrated on just taking the exam that you won’t have time to remember being stressed and having doubts. It will be fine, just remember to drink a nice cup of coffee, or an energy drink, or whatever floats your boat in the morning beforehand.


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