Test-Day Tips

ACT
5/19/2017

Is There Ganache In Your Fridge?

I opened the fridge door. There it was, staring me in the face. A lemony Madeira cake, smothered in chocolate ganache. My hand slowly crept toward the plate...

Ok, hold on. I know what you're thinking. "Vince drinks butter coffee. This can't possibly be a real story." But I assure you it was all too real.

Backstory: My fiancee Julie and I have recently become obsessed with The Great British Bake Off on Netflix. Basically, it's a baking competition for amateur bakers, judged by a couple of famous British cooks. Every week, everyone's bakes are judged, and someone is eliminated until a winner is eventually crowned. But unlike American cooking shows, everyone is nice to each other. There's lots of good cheer. And the contestants are usually really likeable.

So anyway, the show has inspired me to try my hand at baking again (I liked baking as a little kid). So far I've made lemon souffles (success), chocolate volcano cakes (good but too dry), and even a clafoutis (tip: strawberries make it too mushy). 

So this past weekend, I baked the Madeira cake. And with only two of us in the house, it lasted a long time. But at every meal, instead of sticking to my typical Paleo diet, I'd eat another little slice. I think I have pretty good willpower, but since the cake was so available (and so good, I might add) that I found it almost impossible to resist.

If you're a high school student, you probably have a lot of distractions that can come between you and your homework (or your SAT / ACT prep). Your phone. Video games. Email. Music. T.V. Your siblings. And on and on. Even if you're hardworking and well-meaning, it can be easy for your work to get derailed when these distractions pop up.

Let me ask you a question, then. What would your ideal workspace look like if you wanted to minimize distractions? I'll go first. A well-lit room, with a closed door between me and the rest of the world, with nothing in it except a desk, a comfortable office chair, and the books and materials I need to get my work done. 

Now, I know you're not a machine. Neither am I. I can only concentrate for so long before taking a break. But I don't want anything breaking my concentration before I need that break.

Tip: set a kitchen timer for a manageable amount of time (like 20 minutes), and resolve to work only on one particular assignment for those 20 minutes. You might be surprised about how much you can get done if you focus in short bursts. Then set it for another 20 minutes and pick the same, or another, assignment.

The Bottom Line

Are you setting yourself up for distraction by putting a metaphorical chocolate ganache cake in your metaphorical fridge? Or can you anticipate the things that will distract you, and make sure NONE of them are around when you really want to get some quality work done?

Questions For Discussion

1. What's the most tempting thing in your fridge right now?

2. What is one word you can say really well with a British accent? (Mine is "layers")

3. What distractions could you eliminate from YOUR workspace?


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