How to Improve Your Test Scores

Studying is just one of the things you can do to get good grades. Here are some scientifically proven ways to ace your tests.

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Up next in How to Ace Standardized Tests (12 videos)

Ace the SAT, ACT, and other standardized tests with hard work, plenty of studying, and the tips and tricks in these videos.

You Will Need

  • Breakfast
  • Chocolate
  • Gum
  • Water
  • A sprig of rosemary (optional)

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Go to bed early

    Go to bed early the night before. Sleeping only six hours instead of eight increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 50%, and sleep- deprived people score 30% lower on memory tests.

  2. Study right before you turn in. Research shows we remember things better that way, because the act of sleeping 'locks' the information in our brain.

  3. Step 2

    Eat breakfast

    Don’t skip the corn flakes. Students who eat breakfast score higher on tests and report less test-related anxiety. Best bets? Eggs for brain-boosting choline, and oatmeal for a calming increase in serotonin levels.

  4. After your healthy breakfast, treat yourself with a little dark chocolate. It boosts memory, alertness, and concentration, and its special chemicals even decrease anxiety.

  5. Step 3

    Visualize success

    Imagine acing the test. Sounds crazy, but visualizing success, like a term paper marked 'A,' stimulates the alpha waves associated with relaxation, making you less likely to choke during the exam.

  6. Stuck on a question? Go with your gut. Your first hunch is almost always the right one!

  7. Step 4

    Chew gum

    Pop a stick of gum. In one British study, the act of chewing was found to activate the hippocampus, the brain area responsible for memory, improving recall by 35%.

  8. Go for peppermint or spearmint flavors: Mint scents increase alertness, leading to fewer mistakes.

  9. Step 5

    Use acupressure

    Use this acupressure trick: Press the spot on your wrist about two thumb widths down from the base of the palm. Acupuncturists believe this signals the heart to slow to a more soothing rhythm.

  10. Put a bit of fresh rosemary in your pocket on test day—it’s a proven memory booster! In fact, in ancient Greece, students wore sprigs of rosemary in their hair on exam day.

  11. Step 6

    Drink water

    Bring a bottle of water with you to the test. Even the slightest dip in hydration levels can lead to stress, memory loss, and a drop in mental functioning.

  12. Step 7

    Take deep breaths

    If you feel anxious during the test, take a deep breath. Breathe into your belly, not your chest; count to 10 as you inhale and 10 as you exhale. This helps you focus and lowers stress hormones in seconds.

  13. Most multiple-choice answers are B and C, and on true/false tests, there are usually more trues than falses.

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