Can Breathing Deeply Raise Your SAT or ACT Score?

Here’s a thought for students who have anxiety over taking the SATs, ACTs and SAT subject tests: Breathing!

The thought comes from reading the Science section of the New York Times this morning. In an article entitled, Breath. Exhale. Repeat, Lesley Alderman writes that controlled breathing, as it is called, is a stress reliever. Now that’s something that should bring cheers to the mouths of high school students and their parents. It’s apparently pretty simple to do, and the article in particular talks about what to do for stress relief. With acknowledgement to the newspaper, which hasn’t gotten a lot of acknowledgements these days, here’s the suggestion, with a couple of comments from me:

When your mind is racing or you feel keyed up, try “Rock and Roll” breathing, which has the added benefit of strengthening your core.
1. Sit up straight on the floor or the end of a chair. [I like the chair idea.]
2. Place your hands on your belly.
3. As you inhale, lean forward and expand your belly. [My stomach wants to collapse rather than expand, but by concentrating, I can do it.]
4. As you exhale, squeeze the breath out and curl forward while leaning backward; exhale until you’re completely empty of breath.
5. Repeat 20 times.

I’ve been hearing too many stories lately of students who have cancelled their exams because they became anxious during the test, got confused, and never finished – and even did not have time to fill in the bubbles after doing the math equations in the booklet. So if this innocuous approach has the added advantage of making a student “think” that he or she will be less anxious over taking an SAT or ACT – and help the student keep that mindset during the test – I’m all for it.