Dear College Entrance Exam Takers,

Breathe. Take a big deep inhale through the nose with your mouth closed. Keep it in for 4 seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat until you feel relaxed.

College entrance exams can be stressful and difficult, there’s no way around that fact. But these exams can also provide you with a great opportunity to learn how to deal with stressful and difficult moments. Knowing how to face these moments is a life skill everyone needs to learn because you will face them again and again and again. Get a head start and try out these suggestions your future self will thank you.

Take a look at your study habits.

What is your learning style? Do you learn better by reading books with pictures and graphs or by discussing concepts with others? Do you work well during morning or at night? Are you a self-proclaimed crammer?

We all learn and process information differently. Knowing more about your distinct learning style and habits will help you retain concepts and solve problems more effectively. Take inventory of what your current study habits are and see what you can do to improve them. If you find yourself cramming for the entrance exams, then most likely than not you will also cram for that final paper, oral exam, and long test in college.

Ask for help.

It’s very tempting to act like you know what you’re doing rather than admit we need help. We try to do everything ourselves first, taking hours to solve a few math problems or reading long passages in textbooks. It might lead us to the right goal but there’s a faster way to get there.

Ask for help from people who have experienced taking the college entrance exams. What are the kind of questions the exam will have or what tips can they share in managing the pressure? Save time and avoid mistakes that others have made. Enroll in a review center who has mastered the art and science of studying for the entrance exams. AHEAD teaches students research-based and proven strategies on test taking and tackling difficult problems.

Breathe slowly and deeply.

Breathing is our body’s natural way of reducing anxiety and stress. It provides oxygen to our brains and organs so we can function and be productive. Concentrating on our breathing helps us to focus on the present and to cut down on our anxious thoughts. Practice breathing slowly and deeply to give your body the oxygen it needs to face a stressful situation.

Hang out with your friends.

Taking breaks is as important as studying. It gives your brain time to decompress and process the information you studied. Hanging out with your friends is a great way to take a break, introducing social interaction into your internal monologue. It takes your mind off studying and help you feel refreshed.

If your time is limited, consider having a study group with your friends. You can quiz each other and ask for help whenever you get stuck.

It’s what you do with your experience, not the name of the college that makes the difference.

This is not really a tip but more of a good mindset to adopt. The name of the college might open more doors but it is up to you if you will actually go inside and make use of the opportunity. It’s what you do when you’re there, the initiatives you take, how much and well you study, and the friendships and mentorships that you build.

It’s not an excuse not to do your best in preparing for your college entrance exams but sometimes certain things happen out of our control. The important thing is what you can do to make use of the situation given to you. There’s more than one road to success if you open your eyes and expand your horizon.

Written by: Jyska Kuan

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