Summer, winter, and spring breaks bring many of the things we love — sleeping in, road trips, time with family, sleeping in, blockbuster movies, vacation memories, sleeping in, Netflix binges, and a break from homework. Did I mention sleeping in?
However, another thing that a break from school brings is mental rust. If you’ve ever come back from break and realized you can’t remember how to spell “formula” much less solve one, you’re not alone. Time away from daily study causes a little brain atrophy for most students.
If you’re in challenging classes or preparing for a high-stakes exam like an AP test, the SAT, or the ACT, this is an unfortunate side effect of all those glorious days waking up at the crack of noon. These tests demand that you stay sharp, which is why many students begin test prep 3-6 months before the test is administered.
When you’re aiming for a dream score, you can’t afford to get rusty.
Breaks from school are important and should be enjoyed, but you don’t have to suffer academically just because school is out. You can stimulate your mind and rest your body at the same time. Here three ways to do that:
1. Find a Great Book to Read
We live in an age of online headlines, viral challenges, celebrity tweets, and baby Yoda memes, and, no doubt, you are well versed in all of these digital practices. But scanning is not reading, and an Instagram story isn’t really a story.
While you’re on your break from school, a good novel will both entertain and educate.
Recent neurobiological research compared the brain activity in students who were reading a novel against the brain activity in students who weren’t. The results were telling. The students who were engaged in a novel had heightened brain connectivity each morning after reading sections of their books.
Reading is especially important if you are scheduled to take the SAT or ACT exam in the near future. Immersing yourself in a story, comprehending the plot lines, and retaining information from the author will be a benefit when it comes to the Reading and Writing section of the SAT and the Reading section of the ACT.
2. Watch an Interesting and Informative Documentary
We all like to binge-watch our favorite new show while we’re on vacation. After all, epic relaxation is what vacation is all about. If you’re planning to sink into your couch and spend a few hours with your tablet or television, why not also check out a documentary or two.
This is all about refining your media intake to give your brain some stimulation each day. You don’t have to watch footage of grass growing or an exposé on the commercialization of dog shows, but an interesting documentary on a subject that interests you is a great way to stay mentally limber.
3. Answer a Few Test Prep Questions Each Day
The best online test prep will have challenging questions that mimic either the SAT or ACT exam. Even if you are still months away from your test, taking extended time off from your test prep is not advisable. Make sure you take advantage of digital test prep that lets you study anytime, anywhere.
You don’t have to burn through 20 questions each day when you’re on a break from school, but doing 2-3 questions a day is a smart way to stay sharp. When you have detailed explanations for your incorrect answers, self-assessments to show you any weak areas, and accurate score predictors as a part of your test prep, hopping online for a few questions can actually be fun!
Just a few practice questions a day can be the difference between a good test score and a GREAT test score.
If you’re on a vacation from school right now, enjoy it. Wear your pajamas all day, throw down on a tub of ice cream, watch all 8 Harry Potter movies — Do you! But if you want to remember the product for 8×7 or where Canada is on a map when you return to school, take a few minutes each day to stretch the ol’ brain…
Read a book. Watch something educational. Practice for your exam a little each day!
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