One of the worst feelings in the world is having to study while you’re sick.
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 a predictable inconvenience. In fact, the average American gets sick two to three times per year! You feel terrible for a day or two, then start to rebound. But what if you have something incredibly important coming up like, say, taking 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? And when do you know when it’s smarter to just hit pause and recuperate?
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Being Sick Happens: 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 under the weather.
Cases of flu and colds range from mild symptoms to unavoidable bedrest. If you can push through and study with a mild cold or flu, 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.
Lighten Your Study Schedule When Sick
An important tool in your arsenal when studying for a big test, writing a research paper or preparing 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 a cold, flu or even just a case of the sniffles, you should change your study schedule to fit your energy level. As someone who is ill, you’re likely going to be incredibly tired and lack 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 When Not Feeling Well
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’re Under the Weather
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.
If you’ve missed school, fallen behind on reading or felt too ill to focus in class, don’t hesitate to ask for help. All of our experienced tutors know how to get students back on track after an extended absence. They can fill in gaps in content and help you create a realistic schedule to manage your time and make up missed work or exams.
Work on Getting Better, Not Prolonging Your Illness
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 for a big test. 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 doctor.
When it becomes apparent that you’re going to be too sick to take a scheduled test or turn in a long-planned research paper, then it’s vital to let your teachers know or reschedule as soon as possible.
Getting sick happens to everyone, but being sick can be especially stressful when you have something important coming up, like prepping for your SAT or ACT or taking that AP Physics exam. 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.
Get Back On Track When You’re Better
Now you know how to manage an unexpected cold of flu. But if you still find yourself struggling to catch up on work or make up tests and homework, do you know who you can turn to for help?
Here at Tungsten Prep, we provide tutors that can help with all your classes as well AP exam prep, ACT/SAT prep, and more. To see how we can help you make the grade, contact us today!