What to Do Before Your SAT or ACT


iStock-185266190The night and morning before your SAT or ACT test date, you definitely don’t want to be cramming, but there are several things you should be taking care of during that time. These four are absolute must tasks you’ll want to complete in the final hours leading up to the start of the test.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Some students believe that cramming the night before your SAT or ACT can be beneficial, but that is the opposite of what you should be doing. Instead, you want a good night’s sleep. Eat a delicious dinner, relax by doing some of your favorite activities—whether that’s reading, watching TV, or playing video games—and then head to bed early.

Taking the SAT or ACT sleep deprived after cramming can be detrimental to your score. To boot, cramming is rarely, if ever, helpful. Instead, focus on getting good sleep.

Eat Breakfast

Another thing you don’t want to skip before your standardized test is breakfast. Just like a good night’s sleep, a healthy meal before your exam will help keep you on task. The SAT and ACT both take about three hours to complete (longer if you choose to take the optional essay), so you don’t want to be thinking about food halfway through.

Parents: Consider cooking for your kids the morning of or taking them to their favorite restaurant!

Dress Comfortably

Dressing comfortably is something many students don’t think about when they’re getting ready for the SAT or ACT, but it’s a must. Itchy wool or pants that are just a bit too tight can be distracting while you’re trying to read or complete equations.

Just think about what clothes you own that are most comfortable to you; of course, make sure they’re appropriate for the exam.

Bring Everything You Need

Whether you’re taking the SAT or the ACT, there will be a few things you’ll need to bring to the test. These include your admissions ticket, a valid photo ID, an approved calculator, and pencils.

Additional items to remember include snacks and a drink for the break, a noiseless watch (though not a smart watch—internet-capable devices are off limits!) to help you time the sections, and spare calculator batteries. Use a large, clear Ziploc bag to carry everything.

Studying the weeks up to the SAT or ACT is essential to performing well, but so are your actions in the 12-18 hours before your test time. Getting a full night’s sleep, eating breakfast, dressing comfortably, and ensuring you have everything you could possibly need will help ensure you're as successful as possible.

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