The Week Before the ACT: What You Need to Do To Prepare
Taking the ACT is stressful, and as you get closer to test day, you may find yourself especially on edge. Read on for tips on preparing for the ACT a week before you take it and making sure your nerves don’t get the best of you. Be sure to check out 13 Tips for ACT Test Day for advice on what to do the day of the exam.
The Week Before
Accept Where You Are With Test Prep
Whether you’ve studied extensively or haven’t opened a test prep book, at this point, you are where you are. Cramming isn’t going to influence your performance.
That doesn’t mean you can’t practice a little, but try to limit the amount of time you spend on practice problems the week leading up to the test. It’s especially important that you avoid staying up late to practice, because that can be more harmful than beneficial; you’ll just exhaust yourself.
Exercise at Least 30 Minutes per Day
There are many benefits to exercising regularly. For starters, exercise gives you a brain boost and improves your memory. There are also many psychological and mood benefits.
All of these benefits come in handy for test-taking, as well as academic performance in general. If you exercise daily in the week leading up to the test, you’ll be better prepared mentally and physically.
Overall, regular exercise is a habit that can improve your life significantly. Read more about why you should work out and how to incorporate it into your schedule in 5 Reasons to Prioritize Health and Fitness in High School.
Eat Properly and Healthy
Like exercise, eating well improves your psychological and physical health. Moreover, you need nutritious foods for memory and other important brain functions.
Make sure to eat balanced meals high in fruits, vegetables, and protein, and low in sugar. Breakfast is especially important, because the early meal kicks off your metabolism. You should never skip breakfast, but especially not the day of the test.
Go to Bed Earlier Than Usual
It can be easy to neglect your health in favor of studying and practicing for the ACT. However, taking care of yourself is extremely important. Getting a good night’s sleep means you will be more alert and able to complete your tasks. It also helps with mood and brain function.
Of course, there are some days when you’ll just have to much to do, but try to avoid overexerting yourself in the days leading up to the test. If you get into the habit of going to bed earlier, your body will adjust, and you’ll be more likely to sleep better the night before the test.
But don’t force it. If you’re lying in bed and can’t fall asleep, try getting up and doing something, such as reading a book or meditating for 20 minutes, and then try going back to sleep. To prevent sleep problems, avoid your bed except when sleeping, meaning do your homework and study elsewhere.
The Day of the Test
Wake Up 30 Minutes Early on Test Day
Wake up 30 minutes in advance of when you usually do on the day of the test. Doing so will help you relax and clear your head, as well as ensure that you’re not rushed. Head to the test center well before you need to, so you’ll have time to find parking and are sitting in your seat with plenty of time to spare.
Put All Items You’ll Need in One Place
Make sure you’re prepared and ready to head out the door the night before the test. Put everything you need in one place. That doesn’t just mean your pencils and calculator—also lay out the clothes you’ll be wearing, your admission ticket, your ID, and a snack. Check out What to Bring and Not Bring to Your ACT for more advice on what you’ll need—and what you should leave at home.
Resist the Urge To Practice
On the day of the test, don’t practice at all. There’s not much you can do to raise your score significantly at this point, and practicing more may just stress you out. Try to relax instead, so you’re prepared and not overly anxious when you sit for the test.
Breathe!—You can do this!
It’s normal to be nervous, but do your best to relax. If you’re overly anxious, trying relaxation exercises or conscious breathing. Remember that you’ve prepared, and at the end of the day, it’s just a test. Also keep in mind that you can always retake it, but right now, just focus on the test in front of you. You’ve got this!
Looking for some more help for acing the ACT? The CollegeVine ACT 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 at least a 35 on the section they are teaching and are chosen based on teaching skills and ability to relate to their students.
For more tips on acing your standardized tests, check out CollegeVine’s guides: