Specific Relaxation Techniques During the ACT

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Breathe. When humans get stressed, our breathing tends to get quick and shallow. If you feel yourself tensing up, slow down and take deeper breaths. This will relax you and probably get more oxygen to your brain so that you can think more clearly.

Take breaks. You cannot stay focused intently on your ACT for the entire time that you are in the testing center. You are bound to have distracting thoughts pop into your head or times when you simply cannot process the information at which you are looking. These occurrences are normal. What you should do is close your eyes, clear your mind, and then dig back into the test. This procedure can be accomplished in less than a minute. You could pray, meditate, or simply picture a place or person that helps you to relax. Try visualizing something fun that you have planned for right after your ACT.

Stay calm. Taking an important exam can certainly lead to stress. As part of the process of preparing thousands of students for standardized entrance exams, we have seen a variety of stress reactions. These reactions range from a mild form of nervousness to extreme anxiety that has led to vomiting and fainting in a few cases. Most students deal fairly well with the stress of taking a test. Some students could even be said to be too relaxed in that they don't take the test seriously enough. On very rare occasions, a student may even fall asleep during an ACT exam! (Since you are reading this book, we will assume that you are taking the ACT seriously and that there is no danger of you falling asleep during the exam.)

Have a plan of attack. The directions printed in this book (both in the chapters and on the Practice Tests) are very similar to the directions that you will find on your ACT. You need to know how you are going to move through each portion of the exam. No time is available to formulate a plan of attack on test day. In fact, you should do enough practice so that you have internalized the skills necessary to do your best on each section without having to stop and think about what to do next.

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