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Studying and health.

owlsaremybuddiesowlsaremybuddies 48 replies28 threads Junior Member
So I have a really strange chronic illness that makes studying harder for me than for a 'healthy' person. I am taking the SAT in June and really would like to score between 1400-1600. (For scholarships and transferability to selective universities)
Does anyone have any tips for studying (and information retention) when you have a chronic illness. (Esp. brain fog)
I have been taking practice tests--writing the wrong answers down in a notebook with the answer and how I'll answer similar questions.
So I know how to study, but I want to know if there are any other chronic illness sufferers who have tips on test taking.
I would really appreciate any kind words!
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Replies to: Studying and health.

  • ChasingMeritChasingMerit 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Hey! I'm also a chronically ill/disabled junior.
    I took the ACT in September, so I don't have any specific tips for the SAT, but here are some general things:

    Firstly and probably most importantly, do you have accommodations for when you take the actual test? If not, send in documentation of your diagnose(s) and a letter from a doctor detailing what your symptoms are and what testing accommodations are necessary for you to succeed. I found that both the CollegeBoard and the ACT were quite generous with their accommodations for me (extended time, testing over multiple days, stop-the-clock breaks, a large block answer sheet, etc.) I certainly don't think I would have done as well without them; accommodations helped me manage my chronic pain during testing, rest my hand so it wouldn't get stiff (I have rheumatoid arthritis among other things lol), and have enough time to work through brain fog.

    I know a couple kids with learning disabilities, however, that had a harder time getting accommodations than I did. If your request gets rejected, you can appeal it.

    Things I did to study I found helpful, but we all learn differently:
    - Practice tests! So many practice tests! This helps you identify the kinds of things they ask.
    - Like you're already doing, write down the ones you got wrong and why you got them wrong.
    - Make a "crib sheet" for each section. Write down all the formulas/grammar rules you should know, and make lists of "if you see X, do Y" with instructions on how to do certain types of problems.
    - Lots of people suggest making up mnemonic devices to help you remember stuff. It's never worked for me, but to each his own.
    - Some people say chewing gum while studying helps you retain information. Don't know if that works or not.
    - Learn how to pace yourself. Mark off where you are on the practice test at routine time intervals (20 mins, 40 mins, an hour). If you know that, generally, you should be on question 35 at the 30 minute mark, you can use that as a reference point to keep on track. On the ACT, the math section starts off easy and gets harder, so try to get ahead on the first half so you give yourself extra time on the second half. Not sure if the SAT works like that.
    - If your parents/siblings/etc are willing, make them take a practice test with you. Especially if you know you'll do better than them! It's kind of fun to say "Well, dad, even though you're 60 and have a PhD, I just totally slaughtered you on this test." (Although, to be fair, he hadn't done that type of math in over 40 years and learned English as a second language.)
    - I know people suggest taking practice tests in the same conditions as the actual test (alone, at an uncomfortable desk, no music, strict time conditions, etc.) For me, because of my chronic illness and pain, this was torture. I did practice tests on my bed/couch, and it didn't hinder me when I took the test for real. Just make sure you know what the testing conditions will be like.
    - If it would help you, make yourself more comfortable when you're taking the actual test. Bring a pillow to put behind your back. Bring lots of water/snacks.
    - Bring any as-needed medications to the testing center (both prescription and OTC like advil/aspirin for headaches).
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  • owlsaremybuddiesowlsaremybuddies 48 replies28 threads Junior Member
    edited April 2016
    Thank you so much for your detailed response!!!!!
    I'm sorry to hear that you have a chronic illness too, it really sucks!!!!
    I unfortunately did not do accommodations since I was told (by a friends mom) my chronic illness (POTS and MSA) weren't enough. :( (and now I have missed the deadline for the June test)
    Thank you again for all your help, I really appreciate it!!! And good luck with your chronic illness!
    I hope you are able to get into the university of your dreams! (If that is your goal!)
    edited April 2016
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  • ChasingMeritChasingMerit 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I noticed that the deadline for an accommodations request was April 15th, not too long ago. You might want to get all of the necessary medical documentation and submit a request ASAP and hope/pray they take it. I submitted literally a month after the deadline for AP tests, and they granted my request. Of course, there's a risk might not grant the request in time or at all. (They granted mine the morning I had the AP test -- literally, the test started at 12 and I got an email listing my accommodations at 10. Talk about good timing!) It can't hurt to submit now, even if it's late. Worst case scenario, you don't get the accommodations, in which you're in the same boat you're in right now.

    You might want to consider taking the October SAT or the September ACT instead of the June so you'll have time to get accommodations, if you think they will make a major difference.

    Good luck!! Both with the SAT and, more importantly, your illnesses.
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  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard 2132 replies20 threads Senior Member
    @owlsaremybuddies - Does your school have any sort of resource center for students with physical and/or learning disabilities that need accommodations at school such as extended time for testing, etc.? The reason I ask this is because both the College Board and the people who run the ACT like for students to have a 504 plan or an IEP or a school accommodations plan already in place at their schools before they agree to grant testing accommodations. Moreover, your school's SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) Coordinator would be the one to make the accommodations request -- not you. You will need lots of documentation from doctors, including detailed descriptions of your illnesses and how their symptoms manifest themselves and how they affect your ability to function at school, testing performed to reach the diagnoses, and how your condition affects your ability to function at school and in standardized testing.

    My daughter also has some chronic pain issues, similar to those of @ChasingMerit. Her school's resource person helped her to get accommodations both at her school and later with the College Board and the ACT.

    Are you a junior now? If so, you might want to get started on a paper trail and shoot for the October SAT or the September ACT as @ChasingMerit suggested. That will also give you the benefit of getting in some additional practice over the summer. If you're a sophomore, there's less of a rush, but you will want to get your ducks in a row well in advance of the fall PSAT.
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  • owlsaremybuddiesowlsaremybuddies 48 replies28 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for your response!
    The thing that makes this tricky is that I have already graduated from highschool. (I did so early)
    And my highschool didn't have a disability office and when I asked about a 504--when I was still in HS--they had no idea what that was. (It is safe to say I went to a very mediocre school. In fact, I was not even aware of the SAT/ACT until after I had graduated.)
    Maybe it is foolish of me to be taking the SAT after graduation, as I have already taken the ACT, but I am wanting to improve upon my score for scholarships.
    I'm sorry to hear that your daughter has a chronic illness too, I wish her and yourself well!
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