While the night before the test is generally considered “too late” to make substantial changes in test readiness, this is not true. While it is certainly not the time to, for instance, learn a new math concept, or practice vocabulary for the first time, there are steps to take the night before your test to ensure you approach it in the best possible mindset. Here are some key tips for making the most of the night before test day:
Do One Last Review of Your Toughest Subject
Before dinner on the night before test day, do one last quick review of the subject you’ve struggled with most. That could mean reviewing a math concept you’ve had trouble mastering, glancing through vocabulary flashcards, or looking over a series of literary terms. Whatever it is, the point is less that this review will teach you a brand-new concept, and more that, knowing you’ve done everything you could, you’ll walk into the test the next day feeling more prepared, relaxed, and confident.
Eat a Good Dinner
Make sure to eat a tasty and filling dinner the night before! Try to have a favorite meal, and make sure it’s something solid so you don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Some say fish is “brain food,” but go by your own tastes, and avoid greasy foods, which may upset the stomach. Try to eat dinner early enough that you don’t go to bed on a too-full stomach, which can cause trouble sleeping. Keeping your body well fed and in good condition is a vital part of being prepared for any task—including test day!
Prepare Your Test Materials
The night before test day, be sure to gather your test materials and place them in the bag you’ll be taking to the test. Assuming you’re taking the test in person, these include your admission ticket to the test, a photo ID (check the test website for what forms of ID are acceptable—generally, a valid driver’s license or a current school ID will be fine) at least two #2 pencils, and a test-acceptable calculator. You may also want to pack a healthy snack and bottled drink for the break, to keep your energy from flagging during the second half of the test. When choosing a snack, avoid anything too sweet or too salty, which will make you thirsty while you’re finishing your test, and try to find something with protein (like nuts or granola) for extra energy. Assembling your test materials the night before test day can save you a panicked scramble the morning of the test!
Take Time to Relax!
After you’ve had a good meal and prepared your test materials, be sure to take some time to relax and do something you enjoy. This can be watching a favorite movie, listening to music that you love, unwinding with a video game, or even just spending time with your best friend. The important thing is to feel happy and relaxed. You’ve worked hard preparing for the test, and your mind and body need time to “recharge” before you take it. Free time doing something not only restful, but that makes you happy, is important to get you into the right mindset the day before the test.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
This advice is tried and true—in fact, some people have joked that the “S” in “SAT” should stand for “sleep!” But good advice lasts for a reason. Again and again, scientific studies have shown how important a good night’s sleep is for improved brain functioning. The test will be early in the morning, and it’s vital to arrive with time to spare, so be sure to set an alarm the night before. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep—that’s the minimum recommended for adolescents, although nine or ten hours are fine as well. This might mean going to sleep earlier than you usually do, especially for a Friday night, but being well rested on test day is worth it!
The morning of the test, be sure to get up with enough time to eat some breakfast and get to the testing site with at least fifteen minutes to spare. A good night’s preparation, relaxation, and rest should have you feeling calm and confident for the test itself—you’ve got this!
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