Once you have acquired the toolbox of skills and knowledge you need to do well on the ACT, there is one more valuable strategy to help you do well on test day: routine. Routine is one of the more underestimated elements of test-prep, but it can be a powerful aid in preparing for test day. Routine will help you conquer your nerves and walk into test day prepared and confident.
Routine works to improve your test score on a few levels. It gets your body physically accustomed to test day conditions as well as works to quell the nerves (your biggest enemy on test day can be anxiety). Routine is powerful! Here are a few ways in which you can establish a routine that will help you score better on test day.
Sleep Schedule: You want to ensure that you know exactly how your body and mind will feel on test day. Establishing a good sleep schedule in the weeks before the test will play a crucial role in this. If you’re used to sleeping in until 10am and taking your practice ACT at 11am, it will come as a shock to wake up at 6am on test day. You will know your test time weeks before the actual exam; work on getting your body accustomed to the sleep schedule that this test time requires.
“Test” Practice: You can work to simulate testing conditions in a number of ways. If you’re scheduled to take your ACT on Saturday at 8 am, practice waking up at 6am, driving to another location, sitting down, and taking a practice exam four Saturdays before the test. The more times you do the routine, the more comfortable you will feel on test day. If you can practice at your actual test center, that’s great! Be sure to account for timing and standardized breaks.
Nutrition: Food is a critical part of routine that is often forgotten. Hunger can distract your attention from the exam, so be sure to figure out what kinds of snacks you need to bring. This plays a significant role on test day, from the breakfast you eat, to the snacks you bring, to the amount of liquids you consume. Everyone is different, so it can be helpful to test out what kinds of breakfast keeps you full and satisfied throughout your exam. While it may seem trivial, making sure you stay hydrated without over-hydrating is important too; no one wants to feel uncomfortable during testing.
These three simple tips for establishing a routine will help you feel more comfortable on test day. Once you’ve established a routine, you can walk into your actual test day feeling more confident and you’ll know exactly what to expect. Happy Studying!
Sarah Smith is a Pre-med, Bioethics major at Northwestern University. She’s editor in chief and co-founder of the student health magazine and enjoys being involved in various clubs around campus. Sarah is passionate about education and enjoys learning and teaching. She enjoys helping Veritas Prep students prepare for the ACT!