Test Day Tips

Okay. So you have an SAT coming up this week, or maybe it’s tomorrow.

It’s the big one. You’ve taken practice SATs before, but never when it really counted.

This time, it counts. And you’re really starting to feel the pressure. What to do?

1. Calm down

First of all, calm down. Whoo-sah.

Let’s look back on the past few weeks and months. You have been preparing for this for a long time.

What’s going to help you get your best score on Saturday is not what you study in a few hours right before the test. It’s the work that you’ve been doing so far. Put your faith in the hours upon hours that you’ve poured into studying for this test. They will not fail you.

Is this a stressful event? Sure. Is there a lot riding on this? Sure. But, like a trained Olympic ski jumper atop his steep, icy slope—like an NBA player about to play the 7th game of a playoff series, you must embrace the pressure, rather than let it control you. Don’t try to just ignore your nerves. Feel the nervousness wash over you and allow yourself to understand why you are nervous, because—guess what—you have very good reason to be. You just have to be okay with being nervous.

Say to yourself, this is what I do. This is what I fuels me. This makes me feel alive. RAWR!

Checklist for Test Day:

  • Test Admission ticket

  • Photo ID

  • A number two pencil

  • Eraser

  • A good calculator

  • A jacket (dress in layers—many centers tend to be cold)

  • Tissue (don’t want to start sniffling)

  • Snacks (don’t want your stomach to start growling)

2. Get focused

Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy.” General Patton said, “Rommel, I’ve read your book!”

Well, guess what, the enemy is the SAT, and you’ve read his book!

Armed with strategies and knowledge, you will destroy the SAT without mercy. Your cold, calculating ruthlessness will make the College Board fear you. Ice runs in your veins. You were born for this.

Once you jettison your jittery nerves, you will find that you reach an intellectual zen. Your thinking is clearer than it ever has been. This is where you want to be.

Channel the adrenaline of this challenge and use it to help you remember all of the things you’ve spent months studying—all of the strategies, tactics, and rules. These are the weapons, and the problems are the target.

3. Be Prepared for Anything

Keep in mind that you’ll be pushed off balance on the test day.

The SAT will throw you the vaguest essay topic about philosophical conundrums that you’ve never pondered before.

It can present you with a reading passage about a boring topic that’s so dense that you just feel like there’s a fog around your head when you try to understand it.

It can give you math problems in a format that you’ve never seen before—anywhere—ever.

The best thing you can do is to be prepared for these curve balls and get ready to knock them out of the park, or at least bunt, if you have to. Keep yourself on your toes, so that if you are thrown one of these curve balls, you won’t sit there dazed, but take it as a challenge to be bested.

So relax, take a breath, and don’t think this is all that matters. You will be fine. Good luck, and just focus on doing the best you can!

4. Do the Best You  Can

Remember that you can only do “the best you can do.” That is literally all you can do at any point in your life. As long as you do the best you can do, you should have no regrets.

And the SAT is not everything. It is just a measure of how good you are at taking the test. So don’t take it too seriously. Take it seriously enough that you give it your best shot, but don’t let your ego ride on this.

Remember, life will go on. Take this challenge in stride.