In Part 1 of “How to score high on the SAT,” I discussed how to study the content of the test. In this post, I have some tips for what you should be doing in the days leading up to the exam.
1. Return to practicing with a few full-length tests.
Yes, I mean all 3 hours and 45 minutes at once. Simulate testing conditions for yourself with a stopwatch and practice bubbling in answer sheets. This way, you won’t have the anxiety of confronting the unfamiliar on test day. That said, don’t do this so much that get tired, lose focus, and become even more stressed.
Now is the time to practice pacing yourself during the test. If you aren’t fully comfortable with every kind of question, accept that. It’s unlikely that you will suddenly become proficient in a subject the night before the exam. But simply knowing what kinds of questions are hard for you can get you points on test day. Every question is worth the same number of points, whether you spend 30 seconds or 10 minutes on it. So start with the questions you find easiest, and don’t be afraid to skip a question if you don’t get it right away. You can come back to it if you have time (and often, it will seem a lot easier with fresh eyes).
2. Plan your travel to the test center.
This will help you get there early, which will in turn let you settle in and get comfortable. Make sure you know the route you will take, and have an alternate route planned in case something–construction, subway delays, traffic–gets in your way. If you can, physically make the trip to the test center the Saturday before the test at the correct time, so you know what conditions to expect and how long it will take you. This may sound obsessive, but you don’t want to be stuck in traffic worrying about whether you will get there on time.
3. Get everything you need to bring with you ready the night before the SAT.
A few years ago, I spent 10 minutes searching high and low for my driver’s license the day of a big exam. That was a very long 10 minutes. Don’t do that to yourself.
According to the College Board, you need the following items on test day:
- SAT admission ticket
- Photo identification (such as a driver’s license or state ID, school ID, or passport)
- Two number 2 pencils and an eraser
- Calculator (a scientific or graphing calculator is recommended, and several kinds–such as the calculator functions on a laptop or cell phone–are not allowed)
I also recommend bringing a snack for the break, extra pencils, extra batteries for your calculator, and an extra calculator if you have one. Wear layered clothing because you don’t know if it will be too hot or too cold in the room.
Finally, you are NOT allowed to bring several items such as your own scratch paper, notes, books, dictionaries, highlighters, watches with audible alarms, cell phones, or MP3 players.
4. Try to convince yourself how you do on this SAT exam isn’t as important as you think it is.
I know, this is easier said than done when you’ve been studying like it’s the most important exam in the world! Remember, however, that you are able to take the SAT as many times as you want and colleges will only consider the highest scores. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford that, tell yourself on test day, “This SAT test can be practice for the SAT test I score high on.’ If you don’t have the money for SAT retakes, and couldn’t afford a fancy test prep class or private tutor, trust me, colleges know that. They have detailed information on your neighborhood and high school and take your resources into account when evaluating scores.
While preparing for SAT , take the SAT Math Practice Test to test your preparations