Test day approaches—that fateful Saturday that your whole life (or at least the past few weeks/months of prep) has been leading up to. You’re feeling a combination of adrenaline and dread as you think of the hours you’ll spend the next morning flipping through a test booklet and bubbling in a scantron.

What if I accidentally skip a question and bubble in all the answers incorrectly? What if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of a section? All these fears and more haunt you, and you wonder if you’ll spend the whole night tossing and turning. Wait, what if I sleep through my alarm clock?!

Fear not! This itinerary will guide you through both the night before and the day of your upcoming SAT/ACT, helping you to head into test day with confidence and a game plan.

The Night Before:

Don’t prep. You’re done prepping. You may briefly review a few formulas or grammar rules you feel iffy about, but otherwise try to have a relaxing evening and take your mind off the upcoming test. Check the batteries in your calculator and make sure that they are sufficiently charged, and go ahead and assemble tomorrow’s testing supplies: your ID, admission ticket, calculator, and a couple of #2 pencils.

Eat a healthy dinner that won’t cause any future intestinal discomfort, and avoid unnecessary screen time immediately before bed. Don’t stay up too late. Basically, be the version of yourself that your parents always wish you would be.

Test Day

Before the Test:

Make sure to wake up early, giving yourself plenty of time to get ready. If you haven’t already picked out your testing outfit, make sure to wear comfortable clothing, preferably something with layers in case the test center is too hot or too cold.

Eat a low-sugar, carb-heavy breakfast (e.g. oatmeal or pancakes) that will keep you energized for the hours ahead without causing you to crash mid-test. Also consider packing a little snack, like a granola bar or trail mix, to munch on during any breaks for an energy boost. Avoid over-caffeinating yourself—water and sports drinks are the best beverages to keep you hydrated during the test, but don’t overdo it (*cue flashback to those fears from last night*).

Leave your house with plenty of time to arrive at the test site early. Make sure you’ve got your bag of supplies (and that your calculator has made it from the charger into said bag)! Breathe deeply and try not to fall prey to anxiety: approaching the test with self-confidence is the single most impactful thing you can do at this point, as doubt can only hurt your performance.

During Breaks:

During the few short breaks, take a breather and stretch, eat your snacks, and make any necessary trips to the bathroom. Do NOT pull out your phone, as being caught using it, even during breaks, can result in having your scores canceled.

After the Test:

Have a planned fun, stress-free activity for the evening after the test. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, grabbing dinner and a movie, or attending a concert or sporting event, looking forward to a “light at the end of the tunnel” will have boosted your morale while testing.

Most importantly, pat yourself on the back and breathe a sigh of relief. Finishing a standardized test like the ACT or SAT is no easy feat, and you can rest easy knowing that you’ve given it your best effort. Now try to relax in the next few weeks as you wait for scores to be released.

Now that you’ve got a plan for what to do before and after your test, schedule a call with a Student Success advisor to start your test prep journey today and learn all the tips and tricks you can use during the test. Happy prepping!