Are we here already? Is it testing season again? Well of course it is, and just like death, taxes, and another movie based on a comic book, we’ve got to deal with it. Students- and parents- will stress and fret, and there is nothing we can do to prevent that. There are, however, some nuggets of wisdom we can try to impart to help them deal with this time of year. What follows is some advice I’ve given to my own students over the years. - Sleep… Wonderful, Wonderful Sleep. We all know that young people need more sleep. While teachers may not be able to do much to get students to go to sleep at home, it’s something worth telling them- and parents- over and over. - DO.NOT.CRAM. Make sure to tell students this well ahead of time, not just the days before SOL testing. Rather than rush to shove one’s mind full of information, emphasize to students the need to review often in the days and weeks before the test. - Fuel Up! Students need to eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of water before their SOL tests. Have them avoid sugary, high carb foods, and instead focus on choices packed with protein. - Water, Water Everywhere. Massive infusions of caffeine is a great way to wipe out focus. Urge them NOT to binge on coffee and energy drinks. Instead, H20 is the way to go. Hydrate in the days leading up to testing, not just the day of or the day before. - Move It! Students need to get rid of stress during this time of the year. Encourage them to go for a run, shoot some baskets, or anything that will help them to blow off some steam before and after studying and SOL testing. - Prepare For the Ice Age. Testing rooms are notoriously arctic-like in the morning. Encourage students to dress in layers so they can peel off a light jacket or sweater as the day heats up. They should be focused on their test, not on worrying about hypothermia or frostbite. - Good Old #2. If they’re using pencils, be sure they bring plenty of them- all sharpened- to the testing facility. Time wasted looking for or sharpening pencils is not time that can be won back.