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How to Prepare for the SAT: A 24-Hour Countdown
You’ve spent months preparing the SAT. Perhaps you’ve even been prepping with CollegeVine. Now you’re about to take the test that will play a large part in determining where you’ll attend college, and maybe even help shape your future. At this point, what else can you do to make sure you perform your very best? Here are some of our dos and don’ts for the day before the SAT.
The Day Before the SAT…
Do go for a walk.
In addition to improving your physical health, exercise helps your psychological health as well. Regular exercise can help you relax and manage your stress, as well as get a good night’s sleep—something you’ll need before test day. To learn more about the benefits of exercise, check out 5 Reasons to Prioritize Health and Fitness in High School.
Do know how to get to your testing center.
Figuring out how to get to your testing center ahead of time will allow you to arrive early, get everything in order, and relax. You definitely don’t want to be late or feel rushed because you’re not quite sure of the best route!
Don’t try to cram.
The SAT tests your ability to reason, not retain facts. At this point, you’ve practiced extensively, and nothing you do now will change your score significantly.
The Night Before the Test…
Do gather the essentials.
Put everything you need, including your admission ticket, ID, #2 pencils, calculator, book or magazine, snack, and watch, in one place the night before the test. Read What Should I Bring to My SAT? for more advice on what you’ll need.
Do take your mind off the test.
Remember: cramming isn’t going to help your performance. Try to take your mind off of the test by watching a movie, eating a good meal, or reading a book—whatever you do to help you relax and distract yourself from anxiety.
Do go to bed at your normal time or earlier.
Getting a good night’s sleep will help you do well on the test. Aim for 7-8 hours, and try to go to sleep a bit earlier than you typically do.
Don’t bring your cell phones, iPods, any type of tablet, or cameras.
Having any kind of gadget with you will only distract you, and you don’t need distractions when you’re taking such an important test. Moreover, many devices aren’t even allowed in the testing center, so it’s best to leave them at home.
Don’t stay up all night.
You need rest to do your best. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try getting up and doing something for 20 minutes, such as reading a book or moving to another room. Then try going to sleep again.
Don’t eat junk food or play video games.
It may be tempting to try to take your mind off of the test by eating sugary foods or playing video games, but these indulgences will only overstimulate you, strain your eyes, and make you feel lethargic and fatigued later. You don’t want to experience that when you’re taking the SAT. Instead, read a book or take a walk and eat a healthy snack.
On the Morning of the Test…
Do eat a good breakfast.
Eating nutritious food gives you a brain boost. It’s especially important to eat breakfast on the morning of your SAT, particularly something nutritious with protein, such as toast with peanut butter.
Do take out your SAT prep book and do 1-2 questions from each section.
Doing a few practice problems will get you in the test-taking mindset and help prepare you for the actual questions on the test.
Don’t eat a sugary breakfast.
Sugar has a number a negative health side effects. If you overload on sweets before the test, you might get a sugar rush and crash later. Instead, opt for something more nutritious low in sugar.
Don’t retreat to your room for a quick video game session.
Playing a video game right before the SAT will put you in the wrong mindset, as well as overly energize and stimulate you. You don’t want to be too hyper—or crash—during the SAT.
20 Minutes Before Test…
Take a few deep breaths.
Don’t worry that you’re not ready.
Remember: you’ve got this!
For more advice on preparing for your standardized tests when it’s crunch time, check out CollegeVine’s posts below:
Looking for some more help with acing the SAT? The CollegeVine SAT Tutoring Program will help you achieve top scores on your test. We’ll pair you with two private tutors, one for English and writing, and one for math and science. All of our tutors have scored in the 99th percentile on the section they are teaching and are chosen based on teaching skills and ability to relate to their students.