How to rock the SAT or ACT

A before, during and after plan for your standardized tests!

How to rock the SAT or ACT

After months of preparation, hundreds of flashcards, and maybe even a pricey prep course behind you, it’s the morning of the SAT, and you are…not freaking out! Follow these tips for a painless SAT experience.

Before the test: Relax and chill out

Both the night before and the day of the test, you will be a little nervous. However, the SAT is one of the numerous times in your life when you’ll (hopefully!) be able to harness those jitters and use that nervous energy to really shine! However, the fewer the jitters, the better. So try to relax!

Double check that you have everything you need. Bring lots of pencils, a calculator with fresh batteries, a water bottle and a snack.

Relax the night before! Get some healthy takeout, rent a funny movie, and chill out on the couch. Hard partying and extra studying is not recommended.

“Listen to your favorite music in the car, and wear comfy clothes,” says Kaitlin Saba, a SUNY Plattsburgh student.

 If you do forget something, don’t worry about it. “I realized I didn’t have my calculator when I got to the test,” says Allie Funk, a high school senior from Albany, N.Y. “The proctor didn’t have any extra. However, I didn’t start panicking, and luckily, I didn’t even need a calculator.” So there.

During the test: Energize

The SAT and ACT can be challenging for even those with the best mental endurance. Use these strategies to help sustain you through the entire morning.

“Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before,” says Natasha Miner, a sophomore at Pace University. “Then, for breakfast that morning, eat eggs and oatmeal, which is a good balance of protein and healthy carbohydrates, so you have energy that will give you a lift but won’t make you crash, like if you ate something too sugary for breakfast. Also, pack a healthy snack, and ideally, a little can of iced coffee just in case you get hungry or lose energy during the test.”

When there are bathroom breaks, take them. Even if you don’t have to go, use this time to get up, stretch and walk around. You’ll avoid cramping and grogginess and get to see some of your friends. Tell jokes. A good belly laugh can totally refresh you.

The effects of extra caffeine are debatable. Some say drinking a Red Bull or Starbucks DoubleShot helps them focus; others find that they become so hyper they can’t focus on the task at hand.

After the test: Celebrate!

You did it! You finished the test and are done for the day.

Take a few minutes to reflect about the test, especially if you plan on taking it again. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently? What did I do that worked to my benefit that I should try again?”

Don’t try to figure out what questions you got right and what you didn’t. You’re finished; embrace it! Celebrate! Go out to lunch with your friends and have some people over that night. Knowing you have some fun ahead of you will make the test more pleasant.


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