If you just took the February ACT, you know how important this topic is! There are a few weeks before the March 14th SAT, and ACT test-takers will have another chance on April 4th. By experimenting with these ideas now, you'll be able to fine-tune your morning routine and feel better in school leading up to test day.
Meditation: Try getting up 15-20 minutes earlier (I know it sounds counter-intuitive to suggest less sleep, but stick with me on this), and add a meditation to your morning routine. Meditation is both an opportunity for deep rest and, when done in the morning, a nice bridge between being in sleep-mode and alert-mode. I explain a basic meditation practice in my book, Acing It! A Mindful Guide to Maximum Results on Your College Admissions Test and teach students how to meditate as a part of my test prep programs or single coaching sessions. To get the maximum benefits of your meditation, I recommend meditating before you eat food or drink coffee.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast: Not only does eating breakfast give you fuel, but it also kickstarts your body's inner workings. My favorite breakfast is steel-cut oatmeal with mix-ins and maybe some extra nuts on the side if I'm feeling particularly hungry. You can experiment with how big or small your breakfast is, but eating something is better than nothing.
Caffeine: "But First, Coffee" is a meme for a reason. If you don't already drink caffeine in the morning, experiment with having a small cup of coffee or caffeinated tea with your breakfast. Personally, I don't drink caffeine every morning. Instead, I save it for the mornings I'm especially tired or want to feel extra alert, as you would on test day. If, like me, you don't include caffeine into your normal morning routine, be sure to experiment with drinking coffee or tea before test day because caffeine gives some people the jitters. If coffee—or too much coffee—has that effect on you, it's good to know your limits so that you don't feel extra anxious or have trouble focusing or sitting still while taking the official test.
Move: The next thing you can try is a bit of physical activity, such as pushups, yoga sun salutations, burpees, or dancing (in your room—no one will see) to get your heart rate up or release any test-day nerves.
Deep Breaths (and Refreshing Scents): Taking full, deep breaths feels really energizing. A few ways to play around with this basic idea:
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