(Spoiler alert: you probably shouldn’t read this if you haven’t watched Squid Game on Netflix yet).

Here at A-List and Testive, we’ve been a bit obsessed with the Netflix phenomenon Squid Game. And so, it seems, has the rest of the world. This South Korean drama, which has been setting all kinds of streaming records for Netflix, comes out of a culture familiar with high-stakes testing, and the sadistic games at the heart of the show feel like a perverse extension of that testing culture in many ways. As stressful as your SAT/ACT exams may feel, chances are they are nowhere near as stressful as the equivalent exams would be if you were a high school student in Seoul. There are even a few casual references to the exam-taking prowess of a character like Cho Sang-woo, who got out of the slums and into Seoul National University as a result of his academic ability. It’s a reminder of the life-changing power behind a high-stakes testing model, even if it’s taken way too far in the show.

Fortunately, none of us are going to get thrown into a high-stakes, life-or-death competition anytime soon, but watching the show did get me thinking a little bit about some of the comments I’ve heard from my students over the years about their fear of these exams, which can feel life-or-death in the moment, given the levels of stress sometimes attached to them. Now, don’t get me wrong. They definitely shouldn’t feel that way, and with the right level of preparation, they certainly don’t have to. All of my students who expressed those concerns initially were in a much better place by the time we had finished prepping together, which is a testament to how effective prep can be.

I don’t want to make a crass comparison between your SAT exam and the ultra-violence that we see unfold in Squid Game, but hear me out. Hopefully we can have some fun and consider a couple of take-away lessons from the show that will help you better approach these exams. So here are ten such lessons that jumped out at me as I watched:

1. Don’t bet on a long shot

When we first meet our protagonist, Seong Gi-hun, he is busy gambling away his mother’s hard-earned money on horse races instead of sensibly using it to buy his daughter a birthday present. Obviously, this is not a great long-term strategy for him. As you prep for your SAT/ACT exams, you’ll be presented with a lot of long-shot approaches to where to invest your time, attention, and resources. But if they seem like long shots, they’re probably bad bets, and anyone who tells you that it won’t be hard work is probably scamming you. Use a proven system that has worked for thousands of students in the