- 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.
- TIP: 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.
- 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.
- TIP: After your healthy breakfast, treat yourself with a little dark chocolate. It boosts memory, alertness, and concentration, and its special chemicals even decrease anxiety.
- 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.
- TIP: Stuck on a question? Go with your gut. Your first hunch is almost always the right one!
- 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%.
- TIP: Go for peppermint or spearmint flavors: Mint scents increase alertness, leading to fewer mistakes.
- 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.
- TIP: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- FACT: Most multiple-choice answers are B and C, and on true/false tests, there are usually more trues than falses.
You Will Need
- A sprig of rosemary (optional)