Studying for the ACT and SAT can be a long process — taking practice tests, working on strategies, deciding which test is the best fit. For many students, much of their junior year involves seemingly endless amounts of planning and prepping for these exams. Because of this, students sometimes forget the small, last minute details. What should you do the night before? What should you bring to the test? How early should you arrive? Last minute panicking is common; we’re here to help you avoid that with a list of six ideas to keep in mind.
Do not cram on your own the night before.
You should not cram the night before any test, but cramming for the ACT or SAT the night before, by yourself, is a surefire way to create stress. If you’re working with a tutor or teacher, that’s fine. But sitting by yourself, pouring over notes you read online? Not a great move. This causes stress and despair, which can carry over to the test the next day. Instead, you’ll want to stretch your studying out. Ideally, you’ll begin preparing months ahead of time, but if you’re running late, you can still try to make up some time with our Power Courses during the week of the test. Waiting until the night before, though? Not recommended.
Make sure you have your test ticket and Photo ID.
When you sign up for the test, you will receive a ticket with your picture on it. You are required to bring this to the test along with a form of photo ID. Both are needed to enter the school where your exam is held. But they won’t really hold it against you if you forget one, right? Wrong. I once tutored a student who forgot to bring his photo ID, and he was not allowed to enter. By the time he went home and came back with it, the test had already begun. He then had to wait three months until the next one.
Bring your graphing calculator and make sure it’s charged.
I cannot tell you how many times a student has told me they forgot to put new batteries into their calculator or that they forgot to charge it the night before. This happens too often! The math section of your test will be awful without the calculator, so make sure you have it with you AND make sure it’s powered up.
Bring a drink and a snack.
The test is long. Very long. So, make sure to bring something to drink and eat with you. Be reasonable: don’t plan to whip out French toast, but a protein bar or a piece of fruit works just fine (yours truly, for instance, brought a banana to his SAT back in the day).
Get a good night’s sleep the few nights before and eat breakfast the morning of the test.
These two are more important than you might think. Due to the length of the test, it is very easy to lose stamina. Therefore, you want to be well-rested. The human body works in a unique way, though; a good night’s sleep just the night before won’t cut it. Make sure you have a good night’s sleep at last the few days before the test, too. Breakfast is also critical. That meal will afford you some extra energy as you plunge into battle with the tests. Don’t skip it!
Does your ticket say to arrive at 7:45? Great. Arrive at 7:30. Why? Because you never know what can happen! If the test is in a different school district, you might get lost along the way. Or there could be an accident at the end of your block. Or you may arrive and realize you forgot something. The possibilities are endless. Don’t leave at the last minute. Trust me — I say this as someone who always leaves at the last minute for things. This time, this one time, make sure to arrive early.