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Preparing for Tests and the Importance of Sleep

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Most students are so busy with extracurricular activities, friends, and their own lives that they leave homework and studying till the last minute. This can result in meltdowns, frustration, disregard, and stress. When it gets down to the wire, their first reaction is to stay up all night trying to cram everything into their heads. Some say, they work well under pressure, and they actually do this on purpose so that it will be fresh in their mind for the next day. However, this strategy rarely works and for most people, no matter how much they study the day before, they will not pass that test.

Studies have shown that sleep has a profound impact on learning and memory. A sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information. Without sleep, the brain has no time for rest and rejuvenation. Think of the brain as a giant battery. If you don’t recharge that battery, it could shut down without notice. Say for example, in the middle of that really important test.

To prepare for the test next time here are some simple tips:

  1. Pay attention in class and complete the assignments on time. This way when that test comes around all you need to do is review the concepts you already know.
  2. Budget your time, make sure you have sufficient time to study so that you are well prepared for the test. Try to start a week in advance.
  3. Don’t pull an ‘all nighter’ – Get into a regular sleeping pattern the week before of roughly 8 hours a night. If you still have to stay up late to study the night before get at least 4 hours of sleep, so your brain can store and process the new information.
  4. The day of the test eat a good breakfast. Food also helps refuel the brain.
  5. Arrive early and relax. Once the test starts, quickly look through the whole test. Then start answering questions in a strategic order. For example, on objective tests, eliminate obvious incorrect answers. On essay tests, broadly outline your answer and sequence of points. Try to do the easy questions first to build confidence and leave more time for the tricky ones at the end.
  6. Once you have finished the test take some time to review your answers before you hand it in.
  7. Go home and get a good night’s sleep (even if it is just a 20 minute nap). Your brain needs time to charge up again.

Good luck on those upcoming tests! October and November can be rough, but with healthy sleeping habits, your brain will be fully charged and ready to take on anything!

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