Students often wonder what they should do during their 10-minute breaks in the middle of an ACT or SAT test. Sure, you should use the restroom, splash some cold water on your face, and walk around a bit to keep the blood flowing. But don’t forget – it’s also the time to refuel. A car doesn’t run on an empty tank, and neither will you.
You want to avoid a drop in your blood sugar, so it is important to keep all snacks and meals — even dinner the night before — high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, especially sugary foods, spike insulin, which causes blood sugar to go down, resulting in more fatigue and worse concentration. Protein – on the other hand – keeps blood sugar stable, which improves focus and concentration.
WHAT TO BRING FOR SNACKS
Here are some snack ideas to keep your brain fueled for the second half of the big test. Don’t forget to pack these the night before, so you’re all set in the morning.
- Whole wheat pretzels and hummus: Rich in protein and low in fats, hummus is an ideal snack on test day. When combined with more complex carbs like whole wheat pretzels or veggies, this power snack can’t be beat.
- Greek yogurt with fruit or berries: Go for the real stuff here. The first ingredient in yogurt shouldn’t be high-fructose corn syrup. Combine Greek yogurt’s protein — which is roughly double that of traditional yogurt — with the slow-burning sugars in fruits and berries and your brain won’t crash as it might from a bag of M&Ms.
- Hard boiled eggs: This simple snack is packed with proteins and the essential omega-3 fatty acids – a brilliant brain food!
- Protein wrap: Select sliced turkey or chicken, cream cheese, hummus, lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla for an all-around solid snack to get you through the lunch hour.
- Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit: The protein in nuts and natural sugars in fruit are great for your test day. Avoid super-sugary trail mixes, however,
- Celery or carrot sticks spread with cream cheese or peanut butter: Veggies and a protein will never steer you wrong. Or you can use a multigrain waffle topped with natural peanut butter or honey and sliced bananas. This is another high-protein, complex-carbohydrate option, with a little natural sugar to keep your brain burning bright for hours.
All of these snacks should be small, not the size of a full meal. Overeating can cause a drop in blood sugar and make you feel sleepy. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated with water. Sugary drinks and caffeinated drinks cause a quick high and then a crash – not a good idea for test day! For other tips on what to bring to test day, see the checklist of the 12 items not to forget.
And what’s the number one thing NOT TO DO during your break? Put your head down. Even if you’re tired, don’t give in and think that you’ll snooze for ten minutes. Find a way to fight the urge to sleep and instead move around, eat those snacks, or even do some jumping jacks if you need to. And remember get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam and two nights before the exam – that’s seven to eight hours minimum both nights!
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