You might become anxious the minute you enter the exam room on the day of your SAT. Arm yourself with techniques to calm down and stay focused. When you have practiced these tricks before the exam you will know exactly what to do when your mind starts to wander or your hands start to shake. Here are three tricks for staying focussed during the SAT that you should start practicing now.
Find your mental calm place. Visualization can help you stay calm, recenter your focus, and relieve anxiety. Have a place that you can picture in your mind that helps you feel calm. It could be watching your dog lay in front of the fireplace, a sunny island, or even you eating ice cream after you have finished the exam. Whatever it is, practice closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and conjuring this calm image in your mind. It should take you a few seconds to focus on the image. Anytime you start to panic during the exam you can bring up this picture in your mind to calm down and recenter. Don’t waste five or six minutes reveling in the daydream, just focus on a quick picture in your mind, take a deep breath, and then get back to work.
It is hard not to wonder what others are doing on their exam. Are they moving quickly? Do they seem confident? Are they terrified? An article from SAT Prep for Dummies reminds test takers to resist the temptation to look around the room. Inevitably you will see someone who is marking off bubbles impossibly fast with an aura of confidence. This will shake your own confidence and lead you to feel anxious about your performance. It doesn’t matter how quickly you finish, as long as you get it done in the allotted time. Looking around only wastes precious test time and shakes your own confidence.
The right pacing can only be accomplished with practice. Taking timed practice tests will help you develop a mental picture of how quickly you need to work through reading passages or math problems. When you have a good understanding of how to pace yourself, you should know about how many questions should be completed at a given time. When you are aware of how fast you are moving and how you are keeping up with the pace you need, you will be less likely to give in to distractions. Not only will practicing pacing keep you on task during the real exam, but it will also help you develop the mental stamina required to stay focused for that amount of time.
Acquiring the knowledge needed to perform well on the exam is important, but so is practicing the techniques required to stay calm and focused for the duration of the exam. As you study and prepare for the SAT, be sure to include some tricks for relieving anxiety and staying focused that work for you.
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