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The Source of SAT/ACT Stress and How to Overcome It

Stress is the enemy of test performance. Stressed students perform worse than unstressed students. Stressed brains do not learn as effectively as an unstressed brain

As an SAT and ACT prep tutor, my primary goal is to reduce as much stress as possible for my students. Stress reduction starts with stress recognition so my students and I often start our tutoring sessions with a discussion of stress and where it comes from.  In unpacking the source of ACT and SAT stress, we identify typical culprits like peers, parents, expectations, and performance. While these stressors are indeed present, there is one aspect of the SAT and ACT that seems to cause the most stress: uncertainty.  Uncertainty is a major stressor. When you don’t know what is coming, anxiety sets in and panic can ensue. On a test, if anxiety is the predominant emotion, then logical problem solving and critical thinking skills are not able to function.  Imagine trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube while being attacked by a bear. The anxiety and panic in your flight or fight response would dominate your brain and you would have no brain power to logic your way through the Rubik’s Cube.  The good news is that overcoming the stress and anxiety of SAT and ACT uncertainty is actually quite simple. Since the test directions, format and content have not changed in several years–the last major change was on the SAT in 2016–a student can prepare for the unknown.  Practice tests, test prep books and classes like CROSSWALK’s upcoming Winter ACT and SAT Prep Series are all ways to reduce the uncertainty.  When dealing with the uncertain, it helps to have a script or a plan to follow. By learning key test prep strategies, like when to spend time and when to save time, a student can enter the unknown of the SAT or ACT with a pretty good sense of what is coming.  Stress is reduced when students know what is on the test and how to tackle each section. A Game Plan is the key to reducing any stress of the uncertain.  Learn how to prepare your own Game Plan with CROSSWALK through private sessions or a group class. Contact CROSSWALK today to learn more. 

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