Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

How to Eat for the Big Test

ACT   PSAT   SSAT   Strategies   SAT
Guest Columnist -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comTest Prep - How to Eat for Standardized Test Classes and the Test Itself

Getting ready for a standardized test can be an intimidating prospect. The goal in both your studies and testing should be to take all distractions away, including those grumbling in your tummy.

These days on the internet a quick search of ‘Brain Foods’ will pull up all kinds of wacky supplements and diets that profess to have the ability of supercharging your most important organ. But the real truth to eating for a serious test or test prep class is to keep it simple.

No Distraction, Remember?

The overall goal here is to ace that test. And as any good prep class will teach you, your goal should be to eliminate distractions. While it may be advisable to modify your diet, you certainly don’t want to make any radical changes that could give you an upset stomach or give you the need to go running to the nearest bathroom.

Your best bet is simply to eat some light foods which are already a part of your diet, but try to avoid anything heavy that will slow you down and make you tired.

Establish a Pattern

If you are going to make any changes, or incorporate foods that may encourage your brain to function at its max capacity, make the changes long before the test while you are studying. If you build a pattern of eating that corresponds to a pattern of study then there will essentially be no change once the real test comes around. This is a great way to program your body to respond mentally when certain foods are only associated with studying, like mints, which have been shown to increase brain function.
Beware of the Caffeine Crash

If coffee is part of your regular study regiment then by all means feel free to incorporate it into your testing regiment as well. Just be aware of two key factors that may affect you when it comes to coffee: 1) The Caffeine Crash. 2) The necessity of a bathroom.

Crashing down from a caffeine high could be the worst thing that could happen to you in the middle of a test, so remember to take it easy when juicing up. And that liquid is going to have to come out some time, so remember the second reason not to gulp the stuff down right before the big finale.


Last minute munchables are a good idea, but you don’t want to be Napoleon Dynamite and snack on a secret stash of tater-tots mid-test. For one thing what if the guy/gal next to you catches you and demands his/her fair share?

But seriously, snacking during the test is overall inadvisable. During most standardized tests you will be under time constraints, and you shouldn’t waste valuable calculating time by stuffing your face. However, snacking immediately before the test may be a good idea, particularly if it is going to be a long session like most standardized tests.

Nuts, fruit, and a little water are a perfect combo for this pre-test appetite quencher. And since studies show that mint is proven to increase brain function, you may want to include one to suck on during the test just in case.

This post was contributed by Katie Wilson, who writes about the top universities online. She welcomes your feedback at KatieWilson06 at

October 2008 PSAT

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoCongratulations to all those sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT in school yesterday. I hope you did well.

Good luck to all those who are taking the PSAT on Saturday. If you haven’t prepped at all, please know that there’s still time. You may want to quickly sign up for ePrep’s free SAT trial. At a minumum, it will give you a sense for what to expect on Saturday.

PSAT scores should be ready sometime during the first half of December. Again, good luck.

PSAT for 8th-Graders?!

Karl Schellscheidt -

The College Board recently announced plans to administer a PSAT for eighth-grade students starting in 2010. The test would be administered with the hope of identifying talented students before they begin high school. Some critics say there’s already too much pressure on kids to do well on standardized tests. Read the Los Angeles Times article by Gale Holland and decide for yourself.

The Psychology of “Free”: A Message to ePrep Users

PSAT   Strategies   SAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoAfter graduating from college back in 1990, I spent a few months in Germany playing soccer and working part-time in my uncle’s bakery. It was a great time to be in Germany. The Berlin Wall was coming down and Germany’s national soccer team won the coveted FIFA World Cup. Anyway, my uncle is one of the nicest and most generous people I have ever met. That’s why I was surprised to learn that he made his own employees pay full price for baked goods from his own store . . . even the goods that were left unsold at the close of business. (more…)

2007 PSAT Scores - SAT Vocabulary

PSAT   Vocabulary   SAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep video Within the next ten days, juniors will be getting their 2007 PSAT scores back. Some students and their parents will be sorely disappointed. Trust me; it happens every year. They will be completely dumbfounded. How can a student with a GPA (grade point average) above 3.5, score below the 70th percentile on the PSAT? It just doesn’t make sense.

Parent Response Options: (1) my child is simply not a good standardized test-taker, and there is nothing we can do about it; (2) the SAT is a flawed test, and my child is perfect; once colleges discover these truths, they will disregard his/her scores completely; (3) my child should definitely take the ACT; I heard that it’s easier and that it doesn’t require preparation; (4) preparing for the SAT the “right” way will be challenging, but ulitmately rewarding.

My thoughts on the parent response options above are briefly as follows: (more…)

PSATs 2007 - One Less Question to Worry About

Michelle Hartwell -

eprep test prep videoQuestion 21 from the writing skills section of the Saturday form of the 2007 PSAT/NMSQT was removed from scoring. Seems there was a printing error that affected the test books. Apparently several letters of a word appearing in one of the answer choices for Question 21 did not print properly, so The College Board decided to not score question 21 for all test takers. (more…)

Life After the PSAT

Michelle Hartwell -

eprep test prep video

Last week was PSAT week for high school juniors and seniors across the nation. Students - did you stress over this test or did you take this event in stride? Did you feel prepared or did you feel blindsided? Take our poll and let us know!

  • Polls

  • (more…)

    Taking the PSAT Enters You into a Scholarship Competition

    Michelle Hartwell -

    college admissions expert advice from eprep.comJust a little FYI here. The actual name of the PSAT is PSAT/NMSQT - The Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. When you take the PSAT in your junior year of high school, you are also entered into the running for a scholarship (more…)

    PSAT Prep Course - Come and Get It!

    PSAT   ePrep
    Eric Barnes -

    We worked all weekend and pushed ePrep’s new ePrep for the PSAT out into cyberspace last night. Click here to register for free! We hope you’ll agree it was worth the effort on our part and the wait on yours! As promised, we’re giving free access to the PSAT course (normally $249) now through the October 20th PSAT test date. Simply click the “Register” button, download your two (2) full-length practice exams, and ePrep your way to a higher test score. Our course includes online videos with detailed answer explanations for every test question.

    Help us spread the word! Please be sure to tell your high school - including teachers, guidance counselors, and PTAs - about ePrep’s free access PSAT course.