As we explore all of the “soft skills” that are required for top scores on the SAT or ACT, I am once again going to draw from other areas of my life to illustrate. For me, taking a standardized test is like stepping up to the plate, showing up for the moment, making it count.
You have to BE THERE.
When I was younger (in my twenties) and just starting to build myself up as an actor and learn the craft, I was often in my head. This meant that when I was onstage or in a rehearsal, I was only partly aware of what was going on around me. The other part of me was occupied with lots of thoughts and these thoughts were spawned by a sense of fear and insecurity. When you are insecure, you really want to get it RIGHT. You want to get it right because you feel that if you get it RIGHT, you’ll feel better. But here’s the problem: When you try to get it right by withdrawing into your head and coming up with the answer, you sometimes miss the truth of what is going on out there in front of your face. You miss some very important information!
And so my acting teacher, the Drama Mama, snapped me out of my insecure reveries with this repeated phrase:
“When in doubt, look out!”
It has since become a very important mantra for me.
And it has a lot to do with test taking.
Have you ever been sitting in a circle in class or at some club and everybody is going around and introducing themselves and saying something interesting? And you are freaking out because you know your turn is coming and the closer it gets to you, the harder it becomes for you to listen to what anybody else is saying. Your heart is racing, your cheeks are flushing, your mind is running around the track. And then your turn arrives: You open your mouth and say something, but you have no idea what you are talking about. Or you say the emptiest possible thing, like “Hi everybody my name is Drew and...well yeah I’m so excited to be here.” You had planned all these wonderful and interesting things to say! Where did they all go?
LOOKING OUT is like taking a leap outside of yourself. Taking a risk of listening to what others are saying. Paying attention. It’s scary but you eventually can get the hang of it.
And here’s what happens. When you LOOK OUT, you hear what the other kids are saying. You hear their stories, their ideas. You may even smile and warm up. And once you are warm, you relax. You understand and you respond.
Like I said, it’s a risk, but there are rewards.
Taking the SAT or ACT is all about LOOKING OUT. It’s about BEING THERE, where the information is, ON THE PAGE IN FRONT OF YOU. Not in your head. Not caught up in worries about college or your scores or anything else at all.
You can rely on the page. It’s there for you. The words are all there and so are the correct answers.
So remember the mantra: WHEN IN DOUBT, LOOK OUT! ...and you’ll be good to go!
For more about this commandment or to receive a full copy of Satellite’s Ten Commandments of Standardized Test Taking,click here.
In your corner,