Remedy for Testing Burnout

If it is between mid-junior year and beginning of senior year, it’s possible you have a teen who is VERY burnt out from SAT and/or ACT testing.  If so, it’s too late to avoid it, so here’s how to throw ice on the burn.

How to cool-off burnout:

  • Reset expectations. Tell your teen: “As hard as it is, forget about what came before.  To you and to us, it’s a clean slate.  Tell yourself that this is the beginning of prep.  You can do this, and we’re going to start and continue until you reach your goal.  You’ve got this.”
  • Evaluate what the purpose of prep is. If prep is just to get a higher score, then forget about it.  But, if there is a larger purpose, then the hard-work is worthwhile.  All people are much more likely to do something (and do it joyfully or at least less begrudgingly) if they feel their work is purposeful and worth it.  Here are some posts on the meaningfulness of education and testing.
  • Take a water break. As we have written and talked about, breaks are almost always detrimental to a student’s performance.  Almost always.  The singular exception is if a student is burned out.  If you’ve run a mile at your maximum speed and someone tells you to run another mile, it is likely going to be futile to even try.  You need to take a break, get some water, and then resume.  BUT, you have to pre-determine how long the break will be (and it should never be more than one month – that’s enough time for anyone to rejuvenate).
  • Consider switching tutors. That’s like heresy within the tutoring industry, but it’s true.  Sometimes a student needs to change to a tutor who is more fun or more engaging.  Or, they just need a change of tutor so that they are again more hopeful that they can and will improve.  (To be honest, we have other tutors who are much more fun than I am, and I am not a “fun” tutor.  But I find pure joy in learning and teaching, and I think that joy and excitement for knowledge rubs off on most of my students.)
  • Change your perspective. We all, naturally and for good reason, focus on the short-term more than the long-term.  But, sometimes (and usually for teens) it can be beneficial to take a wide-view: If testing feels like drudgery, consider that it is incredibly temporary compared to the long-term benefits it will reap.  As long as we know that discomfort is short-lived but the gains of it will be large and long-lasting, then we can make it through almost anything.

People are incredible.  We have a will capable of achieving the most stunning feats: landing on the moon, climbing Mount Everest, 200-mile foot races, etc.  But no one achieved anything without doing both the mental and physical work.  All of human history is filled with our achievements.  You can do this.

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