You’ve chosen to go for the gold with one of our nationally recognized certifications. Your calendar is cleared for your testing day and you’re furiously studying for your CMAA, CBCS, CPhT, or both the CMAA & CBCS. Here are some testing tips and tricks we have compiled to help ease some stress (and yes, we have tested and used these too!). Lead-up to testing tips and tricks Schedule the exam for the time of day you are most alert. So, morning people should schedule a morning exam; non-morning folks, later in the day. Vet the venue. Visit the testing center so you know where it is, where to park, and if you need to pay for parking. It won’t do your state of mind (or your test scores) any good if you have to drive all over town looking for a place to park minutes before your exam. Eat for success. Eat the right foods. You need brain fuel to do your best. In the days leading up to the big day, make sure to eat foods that are rich in iron and zinc. Research has shown that these two minerals tend to enhance attention, memory, learning, and mood. Lean red meat such as beef and lamb, and whole grains are good sources of easily absorbed iron and zinc. Day before testing tips and tricks Do not cram today. You have studied and are well prepared, so this is now the time to relax your brain. Stress is bad anywhere, anytime, but especially at the testing room. Avoid stressing yourself before test time. If you can do that, there’s a good chance you won’t be stressed out on test day. Steer clear of situations and conversations that could get the stress-hormone levels up; for instance, emotionally charged back-and-forth on Facebook or Twitter can easily carry over the bad feeling to the next morning, on test day. If that means disconnecting the Internet modem for a day or powering off your Smartphone, do it. Relax, relax. Go to the movies, see friends, or something else to refresh and relax you. Of course, if you decide to see a movie, it’s counterproductive to choose a movie like The Conjuring, a horror flick, or Fruitvale Station, a heartbreaker. Do choose a light, relaxing, test-friendly film like Despicable Me 2. If physical activity is your thing, a light workout a day before the exam is fine; a full marathon is not. Check and double-check. Make doubly sure that you have all the materials you need to enter the testing center: identification, certificate, money for parking, directions, etc. Check also that you have all the things you’ll need for the exam itself: pens, pencils (make sure they’re sharpened!), erasers. Put them in a safe but accessible place, so you can grab and go tomorrow. Go to bed early! You need to be fresh and alert for your big day. Sleep is a requisite for a good test performance. It soothes the synapses (the connections between brain cells) and recharges them for efficient recall of information. Lack of sleep leaves the brain in a fragmented state, much like a computer hard drive that’s in need of defragmentation. Insufficient sleep will leave you too wooly brained for any exam. Exam Day! Be early. You can never overemphasize the importance of arriving early at the testing center. If there’s one tip you should absolutely follow on the day of the test itself, it’s this one. Just imagine how stressed out you’d be if you were to arrive late for the test. If you’re early, you can choose your power spot. You’d want a seat that’s away from distractions. Stay away from a seat that’s near a door, a window or a heater. Eat right. Stay off the following foods on exam day: candies, chocolates, desserts, cakes, cookies, and other foods that are high in refined sugar or are made of white flour. Carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta) are generally good the day before the exam because they tend to relax you, but not on the big day itself because they not only make you feel heavy, they also reduce alertness. Also, avoid turkey; it has L-tryptophan, a substance that can cause drowsiness, say experts. As for beverages, it’s no coffee, tea, or other caffeine drinks on exam day if you’re not a regular partaker of them. Good luck! Of course, it’s never a good idea to rely on luck to do well in any exam. You won’t need it if you studied well. Still, well-wishes are always good for the soul. So here’s to you: Good luck!