Tag Archives: performance

Did your parents ever give you a big plate of fish for dinner, telling you it was “brain food”? Maybe you wondered how it made any sense that salmon could make you smarter, but as it turns out, there’s a little bit of truth to it. Nutritionists and physicians have studied so-called superfoods for decades, decoding the science behind their supposed effects on the human body, and there have been tons of foods with observed positive impacts on the brain: Fish, of course, but more specifically fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, trout and sardines. Turmeric, a powerful antioxidant that’s a staple in curries. Blueberries, blackberries, and other dark berries are full of antioxidants and can combat inflammation across the whole body. Broccoli, which supplies the Vitamin K that’s a building block of the fat in brain cells. Nuts of every kind have nutrients that are linked to…

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The first step to your best test scores is, through deliberate practice and expert coaching, to prove once that you are capable of earning your target score. The next step is to prove that you can keep earning that score. High stakes testing has much more to do with sports than with school when it comes to doing your best when it counts. While one coach has been credited with saying, “That’s why we play the game to see who’ll win,” everyone who has ever competed knows well that being favored to win means nothing once the whistle blows and every player strives to win. Just like athletes, many test takers experience dramatic swings in performance from test to test. Since inconsistency stems from a variety of underlying problems, focus on fixing every aspect of your practice to unlock your best every time the moment matters: 1. Use real test…

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Summer is well and truly here, and that means that teenagers around the country are finally catching up on sleep. It’s no secret that the typical high school schedule is not kind to teens’ natural circadian rhythm, or the internal “clock” that determines when you feel awake and when it’s time to sleep. Adolescence is a time for intensive growing and thinking, and that requires plenty of rest—about 10 hours a night is considered ideal for high schoolers, but between class, extracurriculars, homework and a social life, that’s probably not happening for most of them. The good news is, you can tweak even a super busy schedule so it works with the natural rhythm of your cognitive functioning. Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist from California, coined the term “chronotype” to describe the particular rhythms of sleeping, waking, working and playing that people fall into. Most people…

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The standard school year feels like a long slog, where students begin knowing very little in certain subjects and finish fearing that they’ve learned little more over seven or eight months of instruction. All those culminating exams from finals, APs, and state tests to the SAT and ACT may feel like obstacles in the way of a lovely summer break, but they actually represent critical opportunities to lock in learning and prove that a long year of study was not spent in vain. June is here. Crush the SAT, ACT, and every other test in your way. On the other side lies a long summer with plenty of time to rest, play, and prepare for future challenges!

We’ve all heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” In fact, most of us are guilty of repeating that old bromide, typically to encourage some extremely imperfect activity. Nonetheless, this hoary oyster holds within a pearl of pure truth. Neuroscience tells us that practice makes perfect because of myelination. Our incredible brains never stop changing, which can be a bad thing depending on how we invest or squander our time. As they say, you are what you do, thanks to myelination. Everything we think, say, or do involves the firing of long chains of neurons in our brains. Myelin is an insulating tissue that forms a layer or sheath around the axon of a neuron. Apparently, myelin develops along neural pathways that fire over and over, and its function is to increase the speed of neural impulses along these pathways. In essence, the more we perform a certain task, the faster…

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For all the emphasis in test prep on critical thinking, memorizing formulas and mastering grammar, sometimes making your target score on a standardized test comes down to the little things. The day I took the ACT, I had a terrible cough (this was way back in 2015, don’t worry) that made it pretty hard to focus, and I didn’t do nearly as well as I could have. There wasn’t much I could have done about cold season, but it just goes to show how outside factors can trip you up on test day, even when you’re otherwise prepared. This goes double for students labeled “twice-exceptional”—gifted kids with autism, ADHD, anxiety, or other problems that make them highly sensitive to their environment. If that’s you, or even if you just want to make sure you’re in top form for test day, here are some tips for keeping calm, focused and ready…

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