Perfection, even if never fully attainable, is worth striving for. As such, I aim to prepare students holistically: academically, personally, and, in this case, nutritionally. Thus, not just with the content and process of standardized testing and how this fits into college admissions. And not even just through increasing confidence, decreasing anxiety, and boosting personal motivation. I also make sure that students have the physical fuel to perform at their potential. The SAT and ACT are long, arduous and draining exams — I take the SAT and ACT every year and can personally attest to the fact. Here are some specific tips on brain food that will keep your child mentally and emotionally energized on test day.
Start the morning off right with a hearty breakfast filled with whole grains (cereals that contain them or whole wheat bread). Oatmeal is fantastic and offers complex carbohydrates that provide great energy over a longer period of time. These smart carbs are slowly absorbed by the body, meaning they gradually raise blood sugar and energy levels without causing you to crash later. Carbs also raise serotonin levels which help boost mood. Do not drink coffee unless this is part of your normal routine (for some students, it puts them on edge and speeds up their metabolism, causing them to become hungry during the test).
Food to bring to the testing center:
• A cut up apple: This fruit is a great source of energy because it provides fiber, B vitamins, and potassium (among other great benefits such as flavanols, or antioxidants). Fiber stabilizes energy throughout the day, and B vitamins help turn food into energy.
• Trail mix, especially those that contain cashews, almonds, and/or hazelnuts: Nuts are rich in protein and magnesium. Protein contributes calories without overloading on carbs (too many carbs can cause drowsiness) and magnesium helps convert sugar into energy.
• Dark chocolate: A fantastic snack that, in addition to a lot of other great benefits, increases blood flow to the brain (and the heart), stimulates the brain to release endorphins which improve mood, and contains a small amount of caffeine which can help students stay alert without making them jittery.
• Water: It is very important to stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration decreases energy.
A good SAT and/or ACT is so important to ensure that children demonstrate their potential and gain admittance to exceptional colleges. A great diet on test day is one more step we can take to help them do their best.