You’ve prepared for this day, and it’s finally here: time to take the real SAT. Here’s how to study for the SAT, let’s go over what you need to know about test day with some last-minute SAT tips

SAT practice: THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TEST

1. Take it Easy

There are two ways you can mess this up. One is to go out, party, and stay up late. The other is to spend the night cramming! Whatever prep you do the night before the SAT will have very little effect on your score. You’re better off taking it easy. If you insist on studying the day before, limit it to 30 minutes. Otherwise, chill out and do something relaxing like watching your favorite TV show, hanging out at your friend’s home (but coming home at a reasonable hour), or going out for a walk. Yes, even playing video games the night before the SAT is highly recommended – just not more than an hour or so, though!

2. Pack Your Bag

It’s a good idea to pack your belongings the night before so you don’t risk forgetting something in the morning. Here’s what you have to bring: [could consider having pictures of these pop up, or having the speaker hold them up]

  • Admission Ticket – You can print out your admission ticket from the College Board website.
  • Photo ID – This can be a driver’s license, learner’s permit, passport, or school ID, for example.
  • #2 Pencils – We recommend you bring 5 pencils just in case. They should be regular, non-mechanical pencils, and make sure they’re sharpened!
  • Calculator – While calculators are not required, they are permitted and will be a big help on the calculator math section. Put in new batteries the night before the test.

And here’s a few more things we recommend:

  • Watch – It’s a good idea to wear a watch. While testing rooms usually have a clock, sometimes they may not, or the clock may not be working. It’s best to wear your own watch so you can keep track of the time no matter what. Digital watches are fine, but just make sure they aren’t going to beep during the test. Keep in mind smart watches are not permitted.
  • Jacket – No matter what time of year you’re taking the test, it’s a good idea to dress in layers. The testing room could be cold or hot, and you want to make sure you’ll be comfortable.
  • Snack – You’ll get two breaks during the test, so it’s a good idea to bring a healthy snack to keep your energy going.
  • Small drink – Bring a small bottle of water or your preferred drink in case there isn’t a drinking fountain.

How about what not to bring? [put an X over these to show they’re not allowed. again you could put a photo or hold them up]

  • Cell Phone – It’s best to leave cell phones at home or in your car. If you have to bring your phone into the test center, it will need to be turned off and turned in to your proctor.
  • Any Other Electronics – Be sure to leave any smart watches or electronic fitness devices at home. Even if your intentions are good, the presence of electronic devices can not only invalidate your scores but also the scores of everybody else in the room.
  • Other Tools – Do not bring a highlighter, ruler, or any other tools unless you have testing accommodations specifically allowing them.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep is a great SAT strategy

You’re probably tired after a week of school, so use that to your advantage! Hit the sack at a reasonable hour so you can be well-rested for test day – no video games or movie watching until 2am! Believe it or not, sleep plays a huge role in your memory and ability to perform academic tasks. The best thing you can do for your brain is to get plenty of sleep! However, don’t try to go to sleep too much earlier than usual, or you might have trouble falling asleep.

THE MORNING OF THE TEST: Other SAT strategies

1. Wake Up!

It’s a bad idea to roll out of bed and go straight to a 65-minute reading section. Instead, allow yourself plenty of time to get up and get ready before you have to leave. Once your alarm goes off, help yourself wake up completely by taking a shower. You want to be completely awake before you leave!

2. Get Your Heart Pumping

It’s a great idea to do a little exercise before you leave home on test day. Exercising gets your heart pumping, which in turn will send oxygen to your brain. The better shape your brain is in, the better you will do on the test! Consider doing 10-15 minutes of push-ups, jumping jacks, or any other exercise that will increase your heart rate.

3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Reach for a bowl of oatmeal, fruit, or granola instead of a doughnut or sugary cereal. You won’t be able to eat another meal for at least five hours, and you don’t want to be distracted by your stomach growling during the test.

4. Stick with Your Routine

If you normally drink coffee or tea before school, it’s okay to have your usual amount before the test. However, if it’s not a normal part of your routine, don’t try it out on test day. Caffeine can affect people differently, and you don’t want to risk feeling sick or jittery. The same goes for energy drinks and any kind of medicine.

AT THE TESTING CENTER: More SAT Tips

1. Leave Early

Allow plenty of time to get to the testing center. If it’s somewhere you’ve never been before, it may be a good idea to drive there in the days before the test so you know where it is. Typically, you must arrive between 7:45 and 8:00 a.m. However, check your admission ticket to be sure. The testing center may be crowded, so allow enough time to park, if needed, and sign in.

2. The Proctor

Your testing room will have a proctor whose job it is to hand out and collect tests, keep track of time, and make sure all rules are being followed. Some proctors read every word of the instructions, while others breeze through them. It’s best to be familiar with the instructions for the test before going in so that this isn’t left to chance. Proctors often give 5-minute warnings near the end of every section, but this doesn’t always happen. That’s why it’s best to use your own watch. If you notice the proctor called time slightly early on a section, be sure to mention it so it doesn’t happen again on the next section.

3. Breaks

You’ll get a 10-minute break and a 5-minute break. Use them to your advantage! Don’t be the person who just sits in the testing room waiting for the test to start again. Go out in the hallway, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, eat your snack, socialize with your friends (but don’t talk about the test). You want to come in feeling refreshed and ready to move on to the next section. Just like we recommended for before the test, even a little bit of movement from getting up and walking around will increase your blood flow and help your brain feel rejuvenated to get through the next portion of the test.

4. Cheating

This goes without saying, but don’t try to cheat! This includes going back to previous sections or moving ahead to the next section before you’re allowed to, as well as communicating with other students about the test. The College Board is extremely strict about security, so don’t do anything that could be perceived as attempting to cheat, either.

5. Testing Irregularities

You can expect that the testing room may not be the most comfortable environment. Chances are you will hear some noise, whether it is coughing, conversation in the hallway, buzzing lights, and so on. If the distraction becomes severe, report it to your proctor to see whether anything can be done. If anything dramatic happens that severely affects your concentration or timing of the test, you must report it to the proctor before you leave the site.

COMMON SAT MYTHS: how to study for the SAT

1. You get 400 points just for signing your name

Actually, it’s not possible to score lower than 200 in each section, so yes, the minimum is 400, but that’s really like a zero, not a bonus 400 points.

2. Fill in A, B, C, and D on each question for a perfect score

Any question that has more than one bubble filled in is counted wrong, so don’t try this!

3. If you don’t know, guess C

Every answer choice appears about ¼ of the time on the test, so C isn’t any more likely to be correct than any other option. It is a good strategy to guess the same letter for all the questions you don’t have time to do. But it doesn’t matter which letter you choose since they all should appear about the same amount.

4. There is a “better” curve on certain SAT test dates throughout the year

We’ve checked, and there’s only a small difference in the scaled scores from test to test.

5. The SAT measures your intelligence

Nope. The only thing the SAT tests is how well you can take the SAT.

6. A great SAT score gets you into great schools

Standardized test scores are just one aspect of your college application. Every year, top colleges reject students with excellent SAT scores. Your transcript, recommendations, essays, and other parts of your application matter too!

NOW YOU’RE READY!

So try your best not to stress about the test. It’s just one part of your college application, and it doesn’t assess your intelligence or worth as a person. We hope you can go into the test feeling confident and well-prepared!