'Twas the Night Before the SAT...

night before satSo the night before the SAT is not exactly like the night before Christmas, but they both share some similarities.  You may feel a little nervous, anticipating all the questions that are going to be on the test once you crack it open.  You're probably going to 'unwrap' the SAT as quickly as you would unwrap a present, because every minute counts on the SAT.  The funny thing is, you may or may not like what you see inside. But if you've practiced and put in the time you're hopefully not going to be surprised by a lot of what you see on the SAT.  Maybe the questions aren't exactly like the ones you've been practicing but they are similar enough that you should be able to tackle them with confidence.

It's natural to feel nervous before a big test, whether it's the SAT or your final high school exam, or whether it's your first time or last time taking the SAT.  Just don't let the anxiety get the best of you.  If you're naturally nervous, don't study the night before the exam!  In fact, it's best to relax before the exam, do something you enjoy and get a good night's sleep. 

I know I sound like your mother, but it's true.  You know how you waited all night for Santa but he never showed up?  Well sleep-deprivation is definitely not going to help you on the SAT and cramming at the last-minute is counter-productive.  You might be able to memorize one or two words but the net result is that you'll end up even more nervous than when you started.  Eat your milk and cookies and go to sleep.

Now, the second to last, or should I say penultimate for all you wordsmiths, day before the exam it's OK to do some light studying.  Review key concepts and strategies.  Maybe look at a couple of easier questions to increase your confidence.  This is not the time however, to go over the SAT math problem on functions that always trips you up. 

You want to build up your confidence in the days leading up to the exam and you know yourself best.  Maybe going for a light jog or hanging out with your friends will take your mind off the test enough so you can achieve that critical state of being alert, calm and confident.

It's too bad that there are no more analogies on the SAT because I love them.  Remember the 'countdown calendar' you would have leading up to Christmas?  Well you should have something similar set up for the SAT.  Count backwards from the day of the test and put the numbers in red on your calendar.  I like to have a 30-day countdown leading up to important exams. 

Everyday leading up to the exam you should study something SAT-related, whether it's memorizing flashcards, practicing questions, applying SAT strategies or reviewing grammar rules.  Everyday counts!  The closer you get to exam day, the more you should simulate test conditions.  It would be a great idea to do a dry-run of an entire SAT test under timed conditions about 10 days before the actual exam.  Review any answers you got wrong and fine-tune timing issues. 30 days go by pretty quickly and before you know it it'll be the night before the SAT!

Be sure you take care of all the administrative details the night before the exam so you don't have to scramble in the morning.  Put everything you need the day of the test into a clear one-gallon Ziploc bag or something similar so you can see what you have at a glance. 

Your bag of goodies will contain:

  • Your SAT Admission Ticket
  • A calculator (the same one you have been using to practice all your SAT questions)
  • Two Number 2 pencils and a soft eraser
  • Your ID
  • Your favorite snacks 

You can visit the SAT website to get a better idea of the details on what you can and can't bring: http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/sat-test-day-checklist

And don't forget to eat a nutritious breakfast with some protein to get you through the test.  

One thing you can definitely count on is that the SAT is lot more predictable than some of the presents of yesteryear you've received for the holidays.  And you know what else?  The scores you achieve on the test will probably have a far more lasting effect on your future than the ugly sweater that your relative got you ten years ago. Good luck!

Photo by roberthuffstutter.

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