Sneak Peek of Secret #5: Using Meditation to Increase Focus and Concentration from Harriet Broder’s Amazon Bestselling Book, 6 Secrets to Mastering Successful SAT or ACT Test Taking. 

Confession: I believe that I am fairly intelligent; however, I also know that I can often be somewhat scattered, probably ADD. That said, I am not a big believer in medication (for me) so I decided that I had to learn other ways to help myself with focus, anxiety and concentration. Thank goodness I found meditation! Not only has it calmed most of my anxiety, but I believe I am able to focus better as well as finish a project before I start another! (I have just shared a big reason why I am able to relate so well with my students!)

That said, it was no surprise when I stumbled across this study done with college students. For two weeks prior to taking the GRE – a more sophisticated SAT – these 48 students elected to be participants in a study to evaluate their working memory capabilities, performance and focus on the reading comprehension passages of the exam. They met four days a week for two weeks and practiced breathing and meditation techniques. The results from the study revealed that not only did these students diminish their tendency for “mind-wandering”, they also increased their scores on the reading comprehension (and working memory): the average score on a practice GRE verbal section jumped from 460 to 520. . . compound that with quality test preparation – including of course the other ‘secrets’ you’re learning here and you can’t help but to radically improve those test scores!

Here’s an easy meditation practice I learned from Dr. Andrew Weil:

  1. Sit in a chair with your legs straight down. Keep your spine erect and in line with your head and chest
  2. Close your eyes and place your tongue where your teeth meet the roof of your mouth.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, for 4 counts, expanding your diaphragm. (Think, “Breathe in,” for each full breath)
  4. Hold for 7 counts
  5. Breathe out, through your mouth, for 8 counts compressing the back of your spine against the chair. Think, “Breathe out,” for each full breath)

You can start doing this for 5 minutes a day, then move up to 10 or 15. Two easy Android or iPhone apps that teach you how to breathe and practice mindful meditation are Calm and Smiling Mind. (Smiling Mind was developed by a group of adolescent psychologists, so it is expressly focused on aiding the teenage mind.) If you’re feeling stressed any time throughout your day, do this breathing 4 times. It will immediately de-stress you.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of meditation as well as other helpful tips for test taking?  Click here to purchase 6 Secrets to Mastering Successful SAT or ACT Test Taking!

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