Anecdote to set up the big moment: Okay, I’m going to go ahead and date myself here. (I’m bald, so there’s really no hiding my age, anyway, especially in the summer, but I digress.) Let me educate you on the song, “Stronger,” by Kayne West. Yes, that Kayne West (all comets fade)… Back when he was actually talented, he put out this song that had some sort of effected track in the background that went something like this: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger… Work it harder, Make it better, Do it faster, Makes us stronger, More than ever…” all throughout the song, creating the most hyped, inspired, jacked-up song basically ever.

It also happens to be the approach for most standardized test prep students, who crank and crank and crank, spinning themselves silly, getting juiced up on testing awesomeness. It reminds me a bit of the kid who they say lifted weights for six months at age 16 without stretching once, and when he dove into a lake to go swimming after a lift one day, he tore every abdominal muscle in his body. (Note: that may be actually be urban lore which was a thing before they invented Google for you young people out there, but the principle is the same…). There is a tendency to lose the forest through the trees with standardized test prep.

Helpful Tip: Track your progress and see how your scores on individual sections go up with your progress. When that happens, CELEBRATE!!! You just killed it, dude. You worked your butt off on coordinating conjunctions and sentence fragments and got them all right after blowing four in the last test! You are amazing! It may seem indulgent, but if you don’t give yourself these little boosts, you will burn out. And even worse, you may even forget why you’re working so hard for a number. So stop and eat your carrots! You got this, kid! Happy studying, crew.