It’s mid-October… have you checked in on yourself lately? How’s the new school year treating you? Are you enjoying your classes? Also, before we forget, how’s your SAT/ACT prep coming along?

One of the biggest challenges in high school, a challenge that teachers and school administrators don’t always appreciate, is that the average student’s plate is usually overflowing with new and increasingly urgent responsibilities. It’s not always easy for high schoolers like you to keep your head above water, especially if you’re a sophomore or junior reading this. While adjusting to an increased workload is a natural part of growing up, it’s vital to keep a close eye on your mental health and how you’re responding to the daily grind of high school. After all, if you ignore your mental wellbeing for too long, you could find yourself headed for burnout and that’s never a good thing.

What is burnout?

Imagine you have a candle burning brightly inside you, filling you with the light and energy you need to get through your daily tasks. All of a sudden, that light is abruptly extinguished, taking your remaining motivation and energy with it. In other words, your inner light burned out.

Although not exactly a scientific term, “burnout” refers to that feeling when you simply can’t push ahead anymore. All the mounting responsibilities start to feel both physically and mentally draining, and you feel overwhelmed at the very thought of completing any tasks at all. Burnout can be caused by external factors such as pressure from parents or educators, or it can simply be brought about by one’s internal anxieties that come up with schooling and test prep.

Have you experienced this feeling before? Perhaps you’re in the middle of a burnout crisis right now. It’s a lot more common than you think, especially among adults. But someone your age shouldn’t have to worry about burnout when you should be getting your work done with enough time to hang out with friends and enjoy your teen years. With that said, let’s take a deeper dive into burnout, see how it applies to your test prep, and discover how to pull yourself out of burnout or how to avoid it outright.

What are the signs of burnout syndrome?

The most noticeable sign of burnout is a lack of motivation to continue, even if you’re somebody who usually has no problem staying organized and getting your work done on time. These feelings of inactivity could come about due to your own dissatisfaction with your assignments or classes. It could also come if the challenges you’re facing in school are starting to feel overwhelming — perhaps your grades are slipping, or you’re simply having a tougher time balancing work and play.

This can manifest itself in many ways. If you’re overworked, then you’re likely experiencing physical exhaustion, especially if you’re not getting enough sleep due to the late nights spent finishing your assignments. If sleep is becoming a problem, then it’s likely affecting your moods, making you irritable, cynical, or even fearful. 

Now, let’s take a step back and look at our burnout symptoms: physical exhaustion, lack of sleep, irritable moods, and no motivation to meet your goals. If it’s only the middle of October and you’re already feeling burnt out, it’s no wonder that the last thing you want to add to your massive buffet plate of tasks is a round of SAT/ACT prep.

Although these symptoms are common in burnout for most people, everyone experiences burnout differently, so keep that in mind as you consider whether or not you’re feeling burnout right now. As you can see, burnout is a lot more serious than a stressful day or two here and there.

Now, what does SAT/ACT burnout look like?

Let’s be real for a moment: whether you decide to take the SAT or the ACT for college admissions, test prep can be a real drag. If you enroll in an SAT/ACT prep course, you might have to give up some of your Saturday mornings to take three-hour practice tests when you could be sleeping in. Even after taking multiple practice tests and attending as many classes as possible, you might still find yourself frustrated at your lack of progress, especially with so little time to study for these exams on top of your other small mountains of homework piling up on your desk. </