Okay, starting next week is the beginning of AP testing in my school. You know what that means, stress, procrastination, and of course, cramming two weeks before the test. Luckily, this is only my first year taking the AP test, and I only have one, but nevertheless, just thinking about the AP test makes me nervous. So obviously, studying is the best way to do well on tests, but are there any other factors that we can control? What does science have to say about productivity and the best ways to stay concentrated?
First things first, getting started is the biggest barrier to doing difficult things. The best advice I can give you may seem obvious, and that is just get started. There have been scientific studies showing that getting started on any studying or work is the hardest part. We tend to see the worst of things first, and so just start with the easy parts of studying first. Getting started will have an effect on our brains known as the “Zeigarnik Effect” where we want to finish things we have already started.
Do your studying in intervals, and don’t rely on all your will power to study all day. It has been proven that all the best musicians have a 90 minute intense practice time, and a 10-15 minute break afterwards, and start again. Remember will power will not simply make you do better alone, smart planing and management will. Also, write down or mark on your calendar legitimate and realistic deadlines. You are more likely to complete your work if you do this.
Food And Sleep
Let me tell you that the night right before a HUGE test is not the night to decide that your life is a lie and you must become a vegetarian and try out all these weird foods. Just eat food that you are normally used to eating, because the last thing you want is your stomach growling the entire testing period and everyone around you wanting to strangle you. Eat a good balanced variety of food too. Carbs, fats, and protein are necessary to concentrate and get through the day. Also, enough sleep is very important. As mentioned in a previous post (a long time ago) you need to sleep within 2 hours of you normal sleep time. If one night you sleep for 5 hours, but the next day you sleep for 8 hours, you will not feel better. Your body will not be used to the sleep schedule’s dramatic change, and you might feel even more tired than you normally are.
On a big test similar to the AP test, make sure you keep in mind the following:
- Shower (PLEASE). Your going to be sitting next to someone for the next 3 hours, do them a favor, and don’t smell bad and drive them crazy.
- Bring a watch or a small clock. Chances are, you are going to be in a large room full of people, and the clock may be all the way in the back of the class room, and your back may be facing it. You don’t have the time to keep on glancing back and fourth, and just glancing at your watch to see how much time you have would be a good idea.
- Drink water (just not too much). Yes water is important to have so you don’t feel slow or sluggish, since water makes the blood flow in your body more efficiently and you won’t feel sleepy. Just don’t so much where you have to use the bathroom and taking up your precious testing time.
Ok just remain calm above all else. I know things get pretty nervous, especially when this is your first AP test ( like me), but as long as you studied efficiently you will do just fine because you are a wonderful person, and you know how to get your life together. I wish you the best of luck on your AP testing, finals, or any other big test. Just trust in yourself.