SparkNotes Blog

7 Ways To Step Off That SAT Struggle Bus

It’s no secret that prepping for the SATs is a uniquely terrible form of torture sometimes because there aren’t enough hours in the day, you’ve got roughly 20,000 other things to accomplish at the same time, and, well, it just stinks.

Chances are, you’re gonna hit a snag somewhere along the line and feel like Chicken Little was totally right about that sky collapsing on your head because nothing’s sinking in, time’s a-wasting, and you suddenly realize you’ve just spent the past two hours watching vines of animals behaving weirdly (goats in a tree, what!?).

The good news is that this is totally normal and fixable. Here are a few pointers for how to steer the study ship back on course ASAP.

  1. Take a few giant gulps of air.

It might sound simple, and that’s because it is. But it still works like a charm.

Try taking a brief series of deep breaths and picture the oxygen making its way into your system. (This is especially important when your level of frazzled-ness is dangerously close to shutting the entire system down.) There’s a reason breathing exercises are so popular in sports and medicine; they are a source of immediate vitality and will help you clear up that noggin quite a bit.

  1. Step away from the computer (and the cell/tablet/smartwatch).

Internet access might be a true lifeline at this point, but it’s also a hub for consistent distraction and, frankly, an overwhelming amount of stimulus. There’s so much delicious content floating around cyberspace that just demands to be seen and shared right this very instant (!!). That can lead to you feeling a sense of chaos when online and major FOMO when offline, so when you find yourself in something of a study rut, cut the cord.

Silence all your devices and put ‘em in a safe place while you hit the books, and while it’ll probably eat at you at first for them to be out of sight, you’ll get used to it quickly and notice electronic-free efficiency is now your friend.

  1. Take a quick stroll.

Walking at any pace is insanely therapeutic and relaxing, and exercise in general helps to boost your confidence and work ethic. Stepping off the grind for a spell to work out can help your mind where it needs to be right now: Productive Town, USA.

If there’s nowhere safe for you to trek, or if the weather’s just not cooperating, try whipping out a few of the classic stretches from P.E. to limber up.

  1. Stage a quick dance-jam sesh.

We may or may not have borrowed this idea from Grey’s Anatomy, but hey, it’s a good one: When in doubt, dance it out.

If your mood is falling somewhere between “blah” and “rawr,” crank up your go-to jam, whatever really gets you jazzed right now, and kick up your heels. For that three or four minutes, your mission is solely to be into it and the only thing you should be mulling over in your mind are the lyrics you’ve no doubt got memorized. When it’s over, sit back down and get back to it, newly re-energized and suddenly devoid of those pesky stress bunnies.

  1. Partner up with a pal.

Some people study best when they’re in the alone zone, but you might secretly be one of those people who feeds off of others. Try running through some of the tougher vocab terms and talk through a comprehension paragraph or two with your lunch crew.

The auditory cues that happen here might just help things stick a little better, and the energy of the group effort might keep you going when you’d otherwise tap out early. 

  1. Give yourself snacks as snaps.

SAT prep is a marathon, not a sprint, so you should lay out your goals on a timeline basis to keep yourself organized and on-track. And when you reach your daily (or hourly — hey, whatever it takes) objective, treat yourself with a celebratory snack or another short episode of that show you’ve been binge-watching. 

  1. Say YES to sleep.

You might be tempted to pull an all-nighter to get through your massive to-do list, but word of advice: Get your full six to eight hours. Sleep is important for all kinds of health-related reasons, not the least of which is to let your brain absorb (and retain) all the factoids you’ve asked it to add to to the vault.

Rest is a 100% must for your body, mind, and general ability to function, so make sure you get plenty. 

What are your go-to tips for getting ready for the SAT?