There is no doubt about it – the SAT test and ACT test are difficult tests. For many students, the idea of taking such challenging tests can fill them with dread and anxiety. Because these tests are created to predict how well students will do in college, mountains of pressure are associated with the ACT and SAT. Even extremely bright students are often frozen in fear when facing these giants. Text anxiety is a very real struggle for many of our students. At Oxford Tutoring, we believe in not only preparing our students for the test as far as content and strategy goes, but also in helping them overcome their fear by giving them the confidence to tackle the ACT and the SAT. Here are some Oxford Tutoring recommended steps to overcome ACT and SAT test anxiety.
It may seem simple enough – breathing is something we do without thinking about it. But that is not the type of breathing we are referring to here. We are talking about deep breathing. The kind that, according Denise Scarbro, fitness and nutrition guru with a BA in Psychology, says, “The parasympathetic nervous system is what controls our fight or flight response. Deep breathing triggers our parasympathetic nervous system, neutralizes stress and elicits a calming feeling.” (Source).
The technique we recommend is something we call the 5-2-5. For five seconds, breathe in deeply through your nose, hold the breath for 2 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for five seconds. Do this several times at the start of your test, when you are practicing, or when you are feeling overwhelmed to calm you anxiety and relax your mind.
Still feeling stressed? It may be because you are breathing from your chest and not your stomach. Place your hand on your stomach when breathing to ensure that you are breathing from the proper place to experience the full benefits of the 5-2-5 deep breathing exercise.
Another basic but often overlooked concept it practicing. Theses tests is beasts – they are almost 4 hours long. Think back to the last activity you did that lasted for four hours straight. Can’t think of one? That is because four hours is very long time for your brain to be focusing on one activity. It is not natural and not what students are used to. An hour test? Sure. Maybe even two hours. But four! That is gonna require some work.
Which is where practice comes in. Just like in a basketball game, coaches cannot expect their players to be able to run for an hour or more without preparing them for it. So players practice and build up their stamina. It is the same thing for the ACT or SAT. You can take a test for four hours, you just have to build up the stamina. So take practice tests in a setting like that of the one you will be taking the ACT or SAT in. If you need a place to practice, Oxford Tutoring offers practice tests to help you conquer the ACT test or SAT test.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Nothing will cause panic quite like feeling unprepared. If you have not put the time and effort into getting ready for the test, then fear is a completely expected reaction. Things are a lot scarier when you haven’t trained to face them.
So yes, you need to practice. But you also need to give yourself enough time so that the practice will be a benefit to you. Practicing the night before is not going to give you the confidence you need to take the test. So start preparing. That way you can walk into the room on test day and know exactly what type of animal you are facing and how to take it down.
Give Yourself Some Grace
This is a hard test. You are being asked to do college-level analysis and college-level math. It is no joke. Furthermore, most high schools do not have the time to prepare you with the type of knowledge you will need to have to take the ACT and SAT. So, do yourself a favor, don’t expect perfection right off the bat. It is like a marathon, not a sprint. Taking our practice tests once or twice is not enough to get to the finish line. It takes consistent practice, hard work, and time. Show yourself some grace, you will not get there overnight, but if you understand that improvement is going to take time and are willing to put in the hours, you will get there.
Take the Test with Confidence
You’ve prepared, you’ve practiced, you’ve put in the time, and you even have your handy-dandy breathing technique. Now take the test with confidence! You have got this. You are ready. Believe that. We are rooting for you!
Need practice tests, private tutoring, or courses to get ready for the ACT or SAT? Oxford Tutoring is here to help! Call us today! (949) 681-0388.