THE BLOG

6 Ways to Decrease SAT Test Stress

03/17/2014 05:20 pm ET | Updated May 17, 2014

S.A.T. -- three letters that cause high school kids (and their parents) a lot of stress.

I work with teens and families and I teach them solid ways to combat the worry that accompanies the SAT so they can ace it.

Managing test anxiety is about managing one's mind and body.

I hope you will print this list and give it to your teen to study:

1. Put the day and test into perspective. This test will NOT determine the rest of your life. It is a necessary step for the college application process. Thinking of it as a "life or death" situation will put you in survival mode and prevent you from thinking clearly.

2. Breathe deeply; breathe through your belly.
This helps relax your brain and body. Fear and anxious breathing (short and shallow) happens in your chest. Take long and deep breaths in and exhale slowly. Do this for a minute. It will mentally prepare you to focus while also relaxing you.

3. Your thoughts determine your feelings. Remember that how you think determines how you feel and act (and take a test). Notice possible negative and anxious thinking like "What if I do badly?" or "What if I don't get into college?" Then change the thought to a more realistic one like, "This is just a test that is a part of my application. I can take the test again. There is much more to me than this test score, like my grades and other activities."

4. Focus on the present. Remember that all our worries exist in the future. Focus on the present. Focus on one question at a time. When your mind wanders to a future possibility, shake your head and get back to the question at hand.

5. Be strategic. You don't need to answer every question. If you are struggling with a question, even one you think you should know, move on to the next one. You can save the harder ones for later if you have time. It is better to answer as many as you can, rather than spend too much time on one question.

6. Parents can help. Mom and dad, you can minimize your child's stress by managing your own worries. There are over 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States. There is a place for your child. Remember that managing your own fear will help your teen to manage his or her worries. And this will actually increase his or her chances for a positive performance. Model success, parents!

Sharp minds and sharp pencils... Now get it done!