You have prepared and studied for months and now the time has come to actually take the SAT/ACT test. Here are some last-minute test tips to get you across the finish line.
The Night Before
- Take A Break – That’s right. No studying. Call your parents in to read this right now if they are having a hard time believing you. You should not study the day (or the night) before the SAT! Athletes call this “tapering”.
- Eat Dinner – Allow us another athletic comparison. All athletes eat a meal containing complex carbohydrates the night before the competition. Many high schools even prepare pasta dinners for their sports teams, because carbohydrates are stored by the athletes’ bodies and used for energy the following day. But carbohydrates aren’t just fuel for your muscles—they are fuel for your brain, too.
- Gather Your Materials – SAT Admission Ticket; Photo ID; Two #2 Pencils; An Eraser; Your Calculator (put in new batteries); A Wristwatch & A Snack and Bottle of Water.
- Get Rest the night before – If your parents are still reading this, you might want to send them away now, because you are not going to like what our experts have to say: Go to bed early the night before the test. The entire SAT experience is five very L-O-N-G hours, and if you don’t get a decent night’s sleep, you are guaranteed to fade around Section 6.
The Morning Of The Test
- Eat Breakfast – Breakfast increases your concentration, mood, and memory. Even if you aren’t normally a breakfast eater – get something you can stomach.
- Exercise – Get some exercise before the test. If you think we are kidding – think again. When you get your heart rate up via exercise, you ignite your brain and calm your nerves. Run up and down your stairs ten times, run around the block a few times, do 50 jumping jacks…you pick the format but it will help.
- Dress In Layers – The temperature of the room can have an effect on your SAT result. If you are too hot or too cold, you may have trouble concentrating. To help control the temperature, dress in layers; peel down to a t-shirt if you’re warm or add a sweat-shirt if you’re cold.
During the Test–Some Nitty Gritty Advice!
- Focus on timing – Especially for the Reading Test, time yourself on each passage. Remember, the average time per reading passage is 13 minutes. If timing is a challenge for you and you find yourself running out of time.
- Know when to fish and when to cut bait!
- Narrow your answer choices down; if you can’t decide between two, guess. Put a check next to the question on the test booklet and go back if you have time.
- Don’t go back and reread a section of a passage more than twice
- Don’t forget the key reading strategies – visualization, annotation, and anticipation.
Visualization: Remember to try to create one to two pictures in your mind per passage.
Annotation: Jot down a brief main idea for each paragraph and circle dates, names, and key ideas.
Anticipation: Try to answer the question before looking at the answers; it can be hard, but it will save you time and it will sharpen your analysis.