Tips Before Taking the ACT or SAT

The night before the big test and you go through the usual motions: you have dinner, you play some video games, you scroll through your newsfeed, and then you remember that you’re taking the SAT tomorrow so you place your lamb on the altar and you heave your dagger high above your head and-wait, wait, wait!  You don’t need to go to such extremes to do well on the ACT/SAT.

Here are a few tips for the lead-up into your test day:

  • Get enough rest the night before – Studying is important and so is regular practice, but this should be done well in advance of your test date. Don’t stay up late and study, IT WILL NOT HELP YOU. Instead, keep the usual routine you have before bed that helps you get to sleep. Turn off all distractions before bed and if you’re feeling anxious do some meditation.
  • Take the day off the day before you test – Don’t study the night before, don’t waste the whole day before your test stressing out. You should prepare for this test weeks in advance. You’re about to take the test you’ve been preparing (basically) your entire life for…or at least most of high school – so, take the day off!
  • Eat a hearty, healthy meal – You should do this every day, but ESPECIALLY on test day. You don’t want to be sitting at your desk thinking about food when you should be thinking about the area of a rhombus. If you want some tips on brain-enhancing foods, click here.
  • Brush up on your weak spots – Not feeling confident on algebra? Try out some practice questions or review any notes you’ve got from class. Uncertain about direct object vs. indirect objects? Brush up your Shakespeare or just look at your English textbook. Don’t know how to find the area of a rhombus? Wow…you’re really lost…maybe take the test another time? Obviously, this should be done weeks prior to your test date. Don’t study the night before (This cannot be stressed enough)!
  • Keep your morning routine as it is – Don’t try to cram in any extra studying, or drink coffee, or eat eel if you don’t normally do those things in the morning.
  • Leave a little early – Leave five to ten minutes earlier than you normally would so that you can have enough time to get in and use the restroom and get settled. Remember, you won’t be the only one there, it’s possible there will be traffic or unforeseen delays in your commute to the site.
  • Psych yourself up, not out – Put on your hype playlist and stretch a bit to get the blood flowing. You’re gonna kick this test’s butt!
  • Come prepared – This one seems obvious. But you can really never be too prepared – Pack your bag with fifteen (as many as possible!) sharpened #2 pencils, a fully charged calculator, a snack, a water bottle, some scrap paper, your ID, and any other paperwork you might need. Put this bag in the vehicle that you will be traveling to the test site in – or put it somewhere that you absolutely will remember it (in front of your door, on top of your phone, or inside your favorite rhombus).
  • Get comfy! – You’re likely going to be sitting in a punishingly uncomfortable chair while stressing your mind and hand so you might as well take it easy on the rest of your body and be as comfortable as possible. Dress in layers, it might be really warm in the test room, it might be really cold – you don’t want to be distracted by discomfort when you’re facing the SAT/ACT.
  • Give yourself a break – This test is not the be-all-end-all. It’s okay to feel scared by it, it’s okay to doubt how well you might do, it’s okay to not know the area of a rhombus (jk, it’s super not). If you don’t do well on it, you’re going to be okay. When you finally sit down, get settled, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and trust yourself.

    P.S. Here’s how you find the area of any rhombi you may encounter:

    Formula to find the area of a rhombus

This blog post was written by A-List School & Institutional Partnerships Coordinator, Austin Crowley.

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