Tag Archives: performance

Clothes, it is often said, make the man. But can the right clothes make the man test better? If we accept that our best scores come from managing every aspect of the testing experience we can, then even something as prosaic as wardrobe choice can impact performance. Dressing for success of test day involves more than remembering your lucky socks… though you can wear them too if that will help! When laying out your wardrobe (along with all those other test day necessities) the night before a big test, your main concern should be COMFORT. Consideration of comfort should include a few important factors: Freedom from distractions You don’t proctor as many practice tests a year as we do without seeing lots and lots of hoodies and sweatpants. Why are sweats so popular? When sitting in place for hours on end, teens intuitively favor apparel that is non-binding and free…

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Sleep sets up success. Without enough of the former, you may not experience any of the latter. No wonder high achievers jealously protect their scheduled hours of slumber. The average teen needs about 9.25 hours of sleep a night for optimal performance. But, in sleep as in all other things, quality is as important as quantity. Craig Ballantyne, the Editor of Early to Rise, seems to have cracked the code to quality slumber. His 10-3-2-1-0 formula establishes the conditions to facilitate getting to bed on time, sleeping better, and waking up the next morning well rested and ready for a great day. 10 hours before bed – No more caffeine 3 hours before bed – No more food (or alcohol, obviously!) 2 hours before bed – No more work 1 hour before bed – No more screen time 0 – The number of times you will hit the snooze button…

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Ah, the Super Bowl is upon us once more, and an entire world awaits epic entertainment from NFL athletes and advertisers alike. Not everyone loves football as much as I do, or considers Super Bowl Sunday one of the year’s finest holidays. But everybody, even the most ardent opponent of this sometimes-reviled sport, understands that every football player and coach that will be facing off in the big game reached the championship through massive expenditures of talent, skill, and commitment. Basically, you don’t get here… …without countless hours here… …and here. Every professional sporting event highlights competitors exerting themselves against challenges, challengers, and the limitations of the human body and mind. The SAT and ACT share much in common with even the highest-stakes game. Test takers must achieve their highest levels of performance just as the pressure is greatest, which means that nobody earns their very best scores without massive…

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“You can only climb as hard as you rest.” That was the kernel of rock climbing wisdom Jared Leto shared when explaining his prodigious productivity. And even a moment’s thought assures us that this concept makes perfect sense. Now consider the average high school student, so buried under so many academic, extracurricular, and social commitments that he can’t even get a good night’s sleep. This avalanche of activities might seem like the only path to success, but overwork all too often impedes real achievement. Not only do people, particularly teens, require lots of sleep for optimal performance, but even breaks make a difference. Margaret L. Schlichting and Alison R. Preston of The University of Texas at Austin found that reflection boosts learning. Their research subjects who used time between learning tasks to reflect on what they had learned previously scored better on tests pertaining to what they learned later, especially…

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Life is tough, right? We’re always looking for ways to become happier, smarter, richer, and just plan better with the least effort possible. So why, when the obvious time-tested answers are staring us in the face, do we look away in search of something new and gaudy? The answer, when wondering how to become better in almost all possible ways, is to READ. Reading makes us better in so many profound ways. Obviously, through the right kind of reading, we become more knowledgeable. We also become clearer thinkers with more expansive vocabularies. But if you need more incentive than that to pick up a book, consider five more ways reading will make you better:   1. Reading makes you happier. “A nationwide survey commissioned by the National Year of Reading to explore the importance of reading in everyday life confirmed that reading can have real benefits for your health, as…

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Big tests challenge us on levels that extend far beyond sheer knowledge or academic prowess. Marathon exams like the SAT and ACT also test endurance, commitment, and focus. How we score, then, reflects how carefully we cultivate the physical and psychological drivers of peak performance. Focus matters as much as any other attribute. If you cannot focus, you cannot bring your best; if you cannot bring your best, you cannot do your best. Simple, really, but focus tends to fall by the wayside in deference to more concrete skills. Focus can be divided into two different yet equally important traits: mindfulness and concentration. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana elucidates the essential distinctions in the book Mindfulness in Plain English: Concentration and mindfulness are distinctly different functions. They each have their role to play in meditation, and the relationship between them is definite and delicate. Concentration is often called one-pointedness of mind. It…

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