3 All Natural Ways to Boost Your Test Scores
You’ve showed up for class, read the material, and turned in your homework. So why didn’t you get a good grade in the class? Ultimately, it all comes down to The Test.
To be fully prepared for a test you most certainly need to know the material. But do you also know that there are 3 simple things you can do out of the classroom that will help raise your test scores? Testing experts chime in on how to prepare your body, mind and spirit for better test results.
3 Out-of-the-Classroom Tools to Improve Test Scores
1. Eat to Test Well
Students perform consistently better in school and on tests when they’ve eaten strategically beforehand. Here are some great guidelines for pre-test meals:
• Nix the Sugar: Sugar, which is in everything from ketchup to Corn Flakes, wreaks havoc in young minds. It alters their dopamine pleasure response, and is particularly disruptive to their ability to concentrate. According to a report in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,a 1986 study took a look at the effects of sucrose on preschool children. Researchers discovered that in all subjects, there was a decrease in learning performance after children were given a sugary drink. This was most notable within 45 to 60 minutes following ingestion of the sugar.
What to use instead of sugar or the dreaded high fructose corn syrup? Substitute healthy replacement sweeteners such as Stevia and honey. Satisfy the sweet tooth and enjoy a stable charge of energy – without the jittery highs and the crash-and-burn lows you get from refined sugar.
• Power Up on Protein: Eggs, beans, seeds and nuts are protein-rich foods that the body uses to manufacture amino acids. Amino acids are precursors to the neurotransmitters, or specialized brain cells, which help you to maintain mental acuity and motivation. Although eggs are generally considered a breakfast food, they can be eaten as part of a meal or snack anytime during the day. A half-cup of cottage cheese, 1 cup of yogurt or 1 oz. of hard cheese provide between 10 and 15 oz. of protein, approximately one third of your daily protein requirement, according to the National Institutes of Health. Source: “The Best Foods to Eat Before An Exam,” by Susan Brassard/Livestrong.com.
• Go Fish: Humans have referred to fish as brain food for more than 2,000 years. Omega-3 oils are fundamental to human development and survival. Fresh-water and wild fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Since the nutrient is necessary for learning, concentration and memory, it’s essential to provide your brain with an adequate supply. If salmon, sardines or trout don’t appeal to you, walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews are good alternatives. Omega-3 supplements are also available in capsule form. Source: “The Best Foods to Eat Before An Exam,” by Susan Brassard/Livestrong.com.
• Avoid Caffeine and Simple Carbs: Caffeine just adds to your jitters and your energy high will eventually crash from it, spiraling into weariness and maybe even a headache. Not good for test results. If you want a quick energy boost, eat a slice of whole grain toast before your test. Add some organic peanut butter to give your snack some heft and protein. Link to more information from YesPhonics™ about how to Eat Your Way Smarter, here.
2. Move Your Way Smarter
It may sound silly to have a stationary bike, a treadmill, or exercise balls in the classroom, but the students at Chicago’s Naperville Central High School, are laughing all the way to the honor roll. Their experimental exercise program has doubled reading scores and boosted math scores by a factor of 20. After walking on the on the treadmill for 30 minutes, students were able to solve problems up to 10 percent more effectively. Read more at Mercola.com.
Studies all over the world are bearing out the same data: physical exercise helps reduce stress, connect brain synapses, and improve performance in school. Research released in the January 2012 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,shows “strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance.” Further to the point: “…being more physically active is positively related to improved academic performance in children. Exercise may help children’s thinking by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain. It may also help by increasing levels of norepinephrine and endorphins to decrease stress and improve mood….”
Physical exercise that helps reduce test anxiety can be as simple as walking, running, swimming, dancing, and event singing, according to advice from Bucks County Community College Newtown Pennsylvania. “At the very least, walk up and down stairs or raise your arms over your head.”
Researchers at George Washington University agree, stating “Aerobic exercise will help you to release anxiety and excess energy and, as a result, reduce body tension.”
Another idea: Throw some things into the air simultaneously. Juggling for 10-20 minutes before a test has been shown to raise SAT test scores by 10%.
3. Positive Visualization
Just like an NBA basketball player visualizes the ball swishing through the net before he shoots his free throw, you can visualize a successful test, swishing your way to a great grade.
The Graduate Division of the University of California, Berkley offers this advice: On the night before your exam (right before you go to sleep works well), find a quiet place to relax. Close your eyes. Pull your eyes to the top part of your head, roll up and back, then take two slow, deep breaths. Do this a couple more times to get you more relaxed.
Now, visualize yourself in the classroom taking the test. See yourself receiving the test, then calmly, confidently taking the exam. You see many of the questions you had formulated while you pretended you were the professor. You are organized and alert. You are enjoying taking the test because you want to demonstrate just how much you know about the material.
Create this movie in your head. You are in command and in control. Repeat the positive visualization again in the morning, right before you get out of bed. When test time comes you will have already seen yourself confidently taking the test. Refer to this personal movie anytime during the test. This positive visualization will help you realize what you are capable of achieving.
• Don’t Forget to Breathe!
Those of us with test anxiety – including me – know how stressful testing can be. The trick to calming these nerves is right inside your own body.
Start with your breath, to calm the pounding heart and soothe your chattering brain. “…Many people, who have learned to perform well on tests, incorporate breathing exercises into their strategy,” according to the experts at The Complete Test Preparation Website.
These experts offer good breathing exercises that are perfect for the testing room because they’re done while sitting down (including sitting down at your classroom chair), and also because they’re designed to relax you quick enough to help you just moments before you start the exam. Read more in “Breathing Exercises to Relieve Test Anxiety.”
“The University of New Mexico Biomedical Research Programs report that, “you can do breathing exercises at anytime, before, during, and after the test. Breathing helps you stay emotionally grounded and rids the body of excess tension. It is also an effective way of reducing stress of any kind and only takes a moment to do.”
Their advice: “If you can, close your eyes. Inhale through your nose deeply and slowly. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this two to three times or whenever you feel excess anxiety building up. This is an easy and effective exercise to do throughout the test.”
San Diego’s Southwestern College reports that the anxiety we often feel before an exam is “normal and positive; it motivates us to want to perform at our best level.” But when anxiety “becomes problematic when this nervousness is so high that it interferes with test preparation and performance.”
Don’t let panic or anxiety detract you from applying your full attention to your test. Use the tools of diet, exercise, visualization and breathing to help you ace your next exam. No books required!