One of the worst feelings in the world is when you wake up with a tickle in your throat. 

You know what’s coming. That tickle is the first sign of what is sure to be a downward spiral. It soon becomes a sore throat, and then your energy level starts to drop. By the end of the day, you’re bone-tired and sick as a dog. 

Usually, coming down with the flu or cold is just an inconvenience. You feel terrible for a day or two, then start to rebound. But what if you have something incredibly important coming up like, say, writing your SAT or ACT?

You know that you can’t just sit back and wait to get better. You only have a few days left, and you NEED to go over the material. So, what are some strategies to study while you are sick?

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

The first thing to realize is that getting sick is NOT your fault. You have done nothing wrong. Yes, it’s unfair and is likely going to be hugely inconvenient, but you can’t blame yourself for getting sick. Nor should you blame yourself if you aren’t able to take on your usual study load. If there is ever a time for instant self-forgiveness, it’s when you’re sick.

Cases of flu and colds range from mild symptoms to unavoidable bedrest. If you can push through and study as per usual, that’s great. If you can’t, don’t beat yourself up over it. In this context, resting is just another form of test preparation! You’ve likely been studying over the last few months and are more ready than you think. After all, tutoring and SAT/ACT practice tests can be fabulous preparation methods!

Yes, being tripped up at the finish line, to be frank, stinks, but you will get past it. 

Change Your Study Schedule

An important tool in your arsenal when studying for your SAT or ACT is a study schedule. This schedule breaks down when you are studying and for how long. You might prefer to study for longer periods with extended breaks. Or you might prefer shorter bursts. Everyone has their preference that works best for them.

If you come down with something, however, you should take a look at changing your schedule to fit your new circumstances. As someone who is ill, you’re likely going to be incredibly tired and lacking energy or focus; hardly an ideal condition in which to study. Try backing off the marathon study sessions that will exhaust you and instead try to keep a more flexible schedule. 

And if you need a break, take one! 

Change Your Study Focus

It might not be a great idea to start studying new material when you have a headache or are trying not to throw up. Instead, use the time when you are sick for reviewing material you’ve already gone over. Don’t try to tackle the subjects that you feel are your weakest. Instead, focus on the areas you feel confident. If Algebra isn’t your thing, take a look at US or world history. If you aren’t a fan of English, why not brush up on AP biology or Physics? 

You might also want to change up the method of your studying. Those who usually spend their time reading and reviewing notes and textbooks should try using flashcards instead. This can be a great place for your parents to give you a hand!

Ask for Help

If you’ve been going at it alone with studying, then it might be time to bring in a little help to make up for lost ground after you’ve been sick.

Free SAT and ACT prep in subjects where you feel the weakest is a great idea anyway, but can really help when you’re recovering from the flu or cold and need that extra push. All of our experienced tutors know how to get students ready for their SAT or ACT, so they can give you the necessary boost you need to feel prepared for your big test.

Work on Getting Better

If you come down with something super close to your scheduled testing day, your most important responsibility isn’t studying. It’s to focus on getting better, so you will be as close to 100% when you sit down to write. The last thing you want is to wake up the morning of your SAT or ACT and be too sick to take the test.

Be sure to drink a ton of fluids, avoid sugar, and sleep as much as possible. If you are suffering from a fever or headaches, take the appropriate medications to relieve your symptoms. If your illness is lingering past when you think you should be getting better, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with your GP.

When it becomes apparent that you’re going to be too sick to take your scheduled SAT or ACT, then it’s vital to reschedule as soon as possible. This is the reason we highly recommend not waiting until the last minute to take your SAT or ACT. Those extra few weeks of study time might seem tempting, but having a buffer in case the unforeseeable is much more important. 

Getting sick happens to everyone, but being sick can be shocking stressful when you have something important coming up, like prepping for your SAT or ACT. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. No amount of chicken soup will instantly heal the flu. The only thing that can help is time and rest. 

We know how difficult it can be to slow down when you’re in “go mode” for studying, but pushing yourself too hard can do more harm than good. Once you start to feel better, you can resume your study schedule. 

Feel free to contact us if you want to write an SAT or ACT prep test, or need a little extra SAT and ACT prep in DC. We also have a guide for comparing SAT and ACT results to help you figure out which test is for you. Just sign up for our newsletter and we will send it to you ASAP!