Preparation Tips

An assessment day, with all the different components that await you, can often be quite exciting. But getting a good start is half the battle!

Preparing for an assessment day the right way can help you get a big head start. This preparation involves practicing the various components, particularly for the capacity tests. But it is equally important how much sleep you get beforehand, what you eat, and how you handle stress.

Below you will find some useful tips for preparation, helping you bring your A-game to the assessment day!

Tips on how to handle your assessment day

An assessment is always nerve-racking. This is primarily because you have to deal with issues that are unknown and that you have little control over. Good preparation, e.g. by using this online tool, gives you peace of mind, but sometimes intensive assessment coaching is recommended as well.

Important things to be able to perform well: Plan extra travel time. If you have to hurry to arrive on time, your body will go into stress mode and it will take some time until you’re calm again. Do not practice intensively or work on problems the night before your assessment. Start your preparations ahead of time, to give yourself enough time to get a good understanding of everything. Only then you will be able to pull it off under pressure. Do not drink more coffee or energy drinks than you normally would. Caffeine causes increased heart rate and together with a certain level of stress, this causes restlessness instead of alertness.

Doing some relaxation exercises just before your timed tests is also helpful. For example, search the internet for relaxation exercises and become familiar with them.

No heavy lunches – the famous after-dinner dip will make you less sharp and more sluggish. You need to keep your energy level up and your mind alert. All these things can help you achieve the optimal result.

If you have fear of failure or if you have ever had a blackout, then we highly recommend individual assessment coaching.

Tips on how to be well rested before the assessment

  • Being well rested is very important to be able to perform optimally on your assessment. Work on the quality of your sleep. Establish a fixed rhythm. This enhances alertness when you are awake and improves your quality of sleep at night. An adult needs, on avarage, about 8 hours of sleep per night. If necessary, use an app to improve the quality of your night’s sleep. Don’t take a long afternoon nap. Dozing off for 15 to 25 minutes is an effective technique. Longer naps causes more fatigue. It is better to go to bed earlier.
  • Preparing for bedtime
    It is important to maintain a fixed ritual. This allows your body to focus on rest. Try relaxation exercises, reading a book, or ending the day by writing some things out. Avoid watching TV and using items that require electricity. The radiation from mobile phones also reduces the quality of your night’s sleep. A light alarm clock will help you wake up gradually. This works especially well in winter, when it is still dark outside when the alarm goes off. Alcohol does ensure that you sleep faster, but it also causes disturbances in your sleep pattern, resulting in restless sleep. Although alcohol can act as a relaxant for the short term, it has disastrous effects on the quality of the night’s rest for the long term. It results in tossing and turning during the night, sweating until you wake up, dreaming a lot, not reaching deep sleep, etc.
  • Nicotine and a good night’s sleep
    We all know that smoking is bad. A cigarette at bedtime – that last one. Don’t do it! Although it can feel very relaxing, there are stimulants being moved into your blood. The effect of nicotine is similar to that of caffeine. It makes you even more alert and sharp, something you don’t want if you are trying to go to sleep. Nicotine can keep you awake and also wake you up during the night. It should be avoided, especially just before bedtime and if you wake up at night. At the same time, it is not wise to try quitting once your assessment has been scheduled. Possible withdrawal symptoms can actually turn out poorly during your assessment.
  • Food and a good night’s sleep
    If you do not want to take pills, drink a glass of milk or eat a banana half an hour before bedtime, or even a combination of these two in the form of a smoothie. Milk and bananas contain substances that positively influence melatonin levels. Consume them an hour before you go to sleep. It does not make you sleepy, but it will enhance deep sleep.
  • The effect of lights in your bedroom
    A little light in the bedroom can be disturbing for your sleep cycle. Streetlights, a night light, even the LED light of your alarm clock: every light, no matter how small, not only has an adverse effect on the quality of sleep, but also inhibits the nightly recovery process of body cells. Keep your room as dark as possible.

Tips on how to deal with stress before the assessment

  • Breathing
    Stress causes shorter, faster breaths. This results in getting less oxygen, which means having less energy. Good abdominal breathing is an important first step to becoming calmer. Close your eyes, put your hand on your stomach, and feel your stomach move as you breathe in. When exhaling, make sure that your stomach pulls back in and your chest does not move. Think of the number 1 and inhale, then breathe out slowly and relax. Do the same again, but think of number 2 this time. Count all the way up to 10 and then back down to 1. Concentrate only on your breathing, the number, and the word “relax”.
  • Stress in your body
    Stress also causes muscles to tense up and get painful. A good exercise to relax muscles, is to swing your arms. Stand up straight and pull your arms away from the body. By doing these exercises, you stretch your back, torso, and stomach, to releive tension. There are many videos on YouTube with relaxation exercises. The neck often causes muscle tension due to stress, sometimes resulting in a stress headache. Relaxing the neck and shoulders is therefore important to reduce stress. To relax your neck muscles, perform the following exercise a few times a day: slowly lower your head and turn your head to the right, so that your right cheek touches your shoulder. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and turn your head back to the center. Do the same to the left. Next, bend your head down as far as possible and hold it for 5 seconds. Lift your head up again slowly.
  • Your body posture creates certain emotions. The brain recognizes certain postures and naturally creates a specific feeling. People who experience stress often sit and stand very differently than when they are relaxed. Sit upright in your chair and pretend that someone is pulling your head up with a string. Move your shoulders down and back, push your chest out as far as possible, and blow the tension away from your body.
  • Stress
    Thinking patterns can cause a lot of restlessness. You might keep thinking about how everything can go wrong and how much of a disaster this assessment could be. Creating a “mind map” is a good technique to get back on track and think more rational instead of emotional. All you need is a pen and paper. Put the paper in front of you and write a question in the middle of the sheet, e.g. “Why am I stressed?” Write down every thought that comes to mind in a circle around the question. The order does not matter. Once all your thoughts are on paper, you can group them together or connect them to each other. This helps you get a clearer look at your thoughts and figure out what is causing you stress. It’s easier to reduce stress when you know what is causing it.
  • Clearing your head
    Distractions are very tempting. Your smartphone lets you check your e-mails 24/7, so essentially you are always working. In western society, there is a lot of emphasis on thinking. You get used to it, but it’s important to know that your brain can be overstimulated too. With the help of meditation, it is possible to learn to occasionally clear your head, to forget about problems, and to reject negative thoughts. If you know that you are sensitive to stimuli, it is recommended to create a low-stimulus situation once in a while. This can be done by meditating, but even by something as simple as not watching TV for a while. A very effective way to deal with stress is to do biofeedback training. The body already gives us a lot of signals about the state of our nervous system. With biofeedback training, you create more balance. For more information, visit

Tips on how your diet can improve your performance

  • First and foremost, it is important that you eat regularly. This means three meals a day, with two or three healthy snacks in between. Snacks like fruit, crackers, or a bowl of yogurt are great.
  • No matter how early you have to leave in the morning, do not skip breakfast. Your brain needs fuel in the form of glucose. Without breakfast, you can not concentrate as well. A breakfast with slow carbohydrates (brown bread, yogurt with muesli) is best for getting through a strenuous day. Do not go on a diet right before your assessment. Research shows that people who are dieting score less on intelligence tests and tests that measure reaction time. Eat enough fruit and vegetables before your assessment. Stress depletes certain vitamins and minerals. A shortage of vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron) makes you less able to concentrate or causes you to feel tired. Use a dietary supplement, such as a multivitamin preparation, to ensure that you do not miss out on essential nutrients.
  • Drink enough water. At least 1.5 liters per day is recommended. Alcohol and coffee cause dehydration and not enough water also reduces your ability to concentrate. You might not notice it, but it definitely has an impact on your performance. Avoid eating late at night and eating fatty foods. These reduce the quality of sleep. Alcohol typically causes you to sleep poorly, too. Many people fall asleep faster, but tend to sleep lightly and wake up easily causing you to not be well rested. Drink coffee and energy drinks in moderation. Drinking a cup of coffee a half hour before your assessment can make you more alert and help you to concentrate better. You can also have an energy drink as a boost during your assessment, but these drinks contain a lot of sugar in addition to caffeine and taurine. This causes many ups and downs in your blood sugar level. The drink will pick you up, but you’ll be even more tired afterward. If you plan on using one of these beverages, do it toward the end of the day when it doesn’t matter as much if you get tired again. It will be almost time for bed anyway. Eat slow carbohydrates such as a banana or sandwich during the assessment and avoid sugars such as candy and granola bars.