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How to Sleep Your Way to a Better SAT Score

Stress kills on the SAT. 

My students hear me wax poetic that stressed brains do not learn as well as unstressed brains. In fact, one of my first lessons with my students demonstrates that attitude is more important than aptitude. Simply put, a student’s aptitude cannot shine when the student’s attitude is negative, tired, unfocused or stressed. 

While many of my conclusions are based in scientific research and years of instruction, I was recently blown away by a study about sleep and the SAT.  According to authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in the book NurtureShock, teens need to sleep longer in the morning than adults. Scientifically, an adolescent brain continues to release melatonin–a hormone that regulates sleep–until well after dawn. Adults, on the other hand, slow their release of melatonin as the sun rises. For this reason, teens shouldn’t be forced to wake up as early as adults.  Bronson and Merryman cite a study done in a high school in Edina, MN. Testing the idea that teens should sleep longer in the morning, the high school changed its start time from 7:25 to 8:30 giving teens an extra hour of sleep.  In the year prior to the change, the top 10% of Edina’s students averaged a math score of 683 and a verbal score of 605. A year after the change, the top 10% averaged a 739 on math and a 761 on verbal. In other words, math scores went up 56 points and verbal scores went up 156 points. Furthermore, the study also concluded that these students were more motivated and less depressed after the change.  Astounding, no? By simply allowing teens to sleep longer, and letting their hormones do what they are supposed to do, test scores shot up and kid’s lives improved. 

So maybe letting Junior sleep a bit longer in the morning is actually a good thing? Learn more SAT test-taking tips by reading 2400 SCORES” 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins. Contact CROSSWALK today to learn about SAT/ACT Boot Camps, private tutoring and other ways to improve your academic standing. 

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