The SAT is taken by thousands of students each year. They study, they take the test, they get their results; but what really happens? Method Test Prep's Vice President Evan Wessler, after years of experiencing the SAT first hand, shares his reflections on his latest experience in the most recent Ebook Impressions of the June 2014 SAT. After getting a sneak peak into what to expect before the actual exam in our first installment, we invite you to take a seat and see what taking the test is really like.
As it rolls by - question by question, passage by passage, section by section, going from reading to math to writing and back again - the SAT has a way of wearing you down both mentally and physically. Even I, with all the experience and focus that have developed through college and my work, I am usually thinking, "I get the point already" around the fifth or sixth section. I know that to keep it together for the duration, I need to treat myself well throughout the test.
A large part of this is taking advantage of the breaks - three, five - minute respites after sections two, four, and six, respectively. So every time a break was called, I got up, got out of the room, walked around, stretched, took a few deep breaths, ate a snack, and eventually sat down when it became obvious the proctor was going to get things started again. Unfortunately, almost none of the students in the room did the same. The breaks would be called, and with the exception of a few who needed to use the bathroom, the students would sit there, slouching, not eating, and looking miserable and tried.
Even during normal, mentally untaxing periods, the brain uses a tremendous amount of energy (accounting for about one-fifth of our total energy consumption) to keep us functioning. Bottom line; the brain needs food. Students who do not eat at regular intervals during the SAT are doing themselves a great disservice by denying themselves a chance to literally refuel.
Moreover, failing to stand up and move out of the cage that is one's desk during the exam is a mistake. When students remain stationary during the breaks, they only exacerbate the monotony that makes the test such a mental gauntlet, and foolishly deny themselves the chance to relieve the physical tension and stress that come part and parcel with the SAT.
So Here's My Message To Students:
Take care of yourselves! As an experience, taking the SAT will probably rank low on your list of favorites; you should be doing everything you can to make the exam as manageable as possible. Bring snacks, get out of the testing room during the breaks, and walk around/stretch to alleviate stress. Trust me: it works!
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