8 Hacks To Increase SAT & ACT Test Scores

Matt Larriva
Jul 28, 2023
Home » 8 Hacks To Increase SAT & ACT Test Scores

Students are under constant pressure, especially during their SAT and ACT tests. While some stress is helpful for focus and concentration, too much can have unexpected consequences.

Review these tips to help you translate all your hard work into high scores, and leave test stress behind for good.

Test Stress by: Scott Groza

8 Ways To Conquer Test Stress

Test Prep Hack #1: Sleep

Study after study has demonstrated that an adequate amount of sleep helps your brain focus and ensures you are able to perform at peak cognitive efficiency.

Sleep habits improve cognitive function and have a positive impact on recall and retention, all of which is critical when it comes to your performance on the SAT or ACT.

Test Prep Hack #2: Breakfast

On the morning of the test, it is incredibly helpful to abide by your typical morning routine.

We tend to find comfort and calm in that which is familiar, so following your usual before-school schedule and performing all of your daily rituals will reduce some of the natural test-day anxiety.

This assumes, of course, that your typical morning routine involves eating a solid breakfast.

Test Prep Hack #3: Body Language

Your body language influences so much more than just how others perceive you, as adopting certain positions can contribute to improved feelings of confidence even when done in a conscious effort to improve self-confidence.

You can consciously reduce any feelings of anxiety and create a substantial sense of self-confidence in your test-taking abilities by simply walking tall, sitting up straight, and maintaining the expansive, open poses.

Test Prep Hack #4: Inner Monologue

You can use this tool to your advantage through the act of self-priming your brain to perform its absolute best during the course of a critical standardized test.

Although you probably should avoid talking to yourself out loud during the test, you should absolutely use your inner monologue to repeatedly prime your brain to succeed just before you take on a new section of the exam.

Test Prep Hack #5: Breath Deeply

Your breathing patterns deeply influence your ability to handle stressful situations, and a high-stakes standardized test certainly qualifies as a uniquely stressful situation.

Once you enter the room in which you will be taking the exam, try to be mindful of your breathing patterns and avoid taking the quick, shallow breaths that naturally occur when you enter a stressful environment.

Test Prep Hack #6: Feed Your Brain

We have already discussed the importance of eating a sensible breakfast on the day of the exam, but you should also make sure you are able to “top off the fuel tank” during the scheduled breaks that occur throughout these lengthy exams.

This practice is analogous to the marathon runner who consumes glucose-laden gels throughout a race to provide ample energy resources throughout the entirety of such a physically and mentally taxing endurance event.

Test Prep Hack #7: Chew Gum

Surprisingly enough, several studies indicate that the act of chewing gum is a relatively mild stimulant that benefits test-takers due to improvements in reaction time, accuracy, alertness, and mood.

The type of gum is mostly irrelevant, but you should be mindful of others in the room and avoid behaviors that might cause them distraction — especially blowing bubbles.

Test Prep Hack #8: Journaling

Students often find it difficult to clear their mind on the day of the test, and some may struggle to such a degree that it becomes a distraction.

In order to avoid this potentially adverse issue, write a brief journal entry in which you spontaneously write whatever irrelevant thought comes into your mind.

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