What should I do the night before the SAT or ACT (and the day of)?

It’s the night before the SAT or ACT, and you aren’t sure what to do. Study as much as possible in a last minute cram sesh? Sleep till the last possible second for maximum rest? And by the way, how many pencils are you supposed to bring? Students often have many questions about what to do both the night before and the day of the SAT or ACT. In this article we’ll go over the do’s and don’ts to maximize your chances of success on the day of your standardized test!

The Night Before:

Don’t Study!: It may sound crazy, but don’t study the night before the SAT or ACT. Give your brain a chance to relax and soak up all the studying you’ve done the past few months. Trying to cram the night before you sit for an almost four hour exam will just result in you tiring yourself out. Take the night off and relax! If we can’t dissuade you and you do NEED to do something to prepare, think about just refreshing your grammar rules or looking over math equations!

Relax: Doing well on the SAT or ACT may seem like the end all be all when it comes to applying to colleges, but trust us it isn’t. For one, standardized tests are just part of your application. An important part, but just a part nonetheless. More importantly, stressing out the night before the SAT or ACT isn’t going to help your score. Remember, you’ve been studying for months now and you know what the ACT or SAT is going to look like! You aren’t going to show up on the day of your test to a completely different test! Let that knowledge comfort you! You got this!

Eat Dinner: Just like athlete’s eat a big healthy meal the night before a game, you should do so before you test! On the night before the SAT or ACT, eat a well balanced meal to give your brain fuel for the task ahead! A complex carbohydrate, like baked potatoes, bread, or pasta will be the best fuel. They will also help you get to sleep!

Double Check Your Testing Center: Make sure to double check where you are testing. Most students test at their highschool, but not always, so just make sure where you are headed in the morning! You can find your testing center on your admission ticket.

Gas: If you or a parent is driving you to the exam, on the night before the SAT or ACT, double check the car you are taking has enough gas. You don’t want to wake up and start your car in the morning to realize you have to fill up your tank to even get to the testing center!

Prep What You’re Bringing:

Here’s a list of items you should bring with you on testing day:

Admission Ticket: This ticket was either emailed or mailed to you when you signed up for the SAT/ACT. You can sign in to your ACT Web Account or SAT CollegeBoard to print another if you misplaced yours. While this ticket is not necessary to sit for the test if you are signed up, having it ensures your scores won’t be delayed while the ACT/SAT verifies your identity.

Proper Identification: Unlike the admission ticket, you must show either a driver’s license, state, or school ID in order to sit for the SAT and ACT. It also must be the actual document (not a photocopy or print out). If you do not have proper identification, you will not be allowed to test.

Number 2 Pencils: Bring at least 2 No. 2 pencils with you. This is the only form of writing implements allowed on either exam. Mechanical pencils, pens, highlighters, and other writing implements are not allowed.

Graphing Calculator: Be sure to pack a graphing calculator with fresh batteries for either test. Also, double check to make sure the kind of calculator you have will be allowed on the ACT or SAT. For example, a popular calculator not allowed on the ACT is the TI-Nspire. Here is the ACT’s calculator policy and here is the SAT’s calculator policy.

Wrist Watch: You can’t guarantee the room you’ll be testing in has a clock or, if it does, you will be able to see it. Avoid this potential mishap completely by bringing a wrist watch! Both tests prohibit any sort of “smart watch” or a watch that makes noise so plan accordingly! You can find cheap watches at big box stores like Target or Walmart. You could also invest in a testing watch available on sites like Amazon these watches have the timing of the SAT/ACT sections already baked into the watch so it’s easier to track how much time you have left. These are especially helpful to students with poor time management skills as they show exactly how much time they have left on a given section!

“It’s not who we are but what we do that defines us.” – Batman

Snack/Water: The SAT and ACT are long so make sure to bring a snack and bottle of water. You cannot eat in the test room, but you are allowed to during the break. In case your testing center doesn’t have drinking fountains, make sure to bring your own bottle of water as well!

Set An Alarm: Set an alarm on your phone or alarm clock to make sure you wake up in the morning! It may sound like a no-brainer but always good to double check your alarms!

Sleep: It may seem obvious (and it is), but do try to get the best night sleep possible. A rested mind is a healthy mind! Even though the test is most likely on a weekend day, treat it like a school night and hit the hay early!

The Day Of:

It’s the big day! Let’s talk about some strategies you can employ going into the test!

Eat Breakfast: You may not be hungry so early in the morning, but eat something before you leave the house. Eating a healthy breakfast is shown to improve mood, concentration, and memory recall. Don’t stop there though! It’s a long test, so bring a snack as well!

Bring a Sweater/Jacket: There’s no way to tell the temperature of your testing room before you get there, so make sure to bring something to put on in case it gets too cold. It may be hard to concentrate if you are cold! Also, think about wearing multiple layers so you can adjust your temperature accordingly throughout the test.

Be prepared – bring a jacket to the test center and you’ll be comfortable and ready to concentrate…you got this!!

Double Check Your Supplies: Especially double check you have your most important items: ID, Admission Ticket, No. 2 pencils, and a calculator! All four are key to a successful standardized test experience!

Arrive To The Testing Center on Time: Try to arrive at the test center no later than 7:45 AM. Students will not be admitted to take the test after 8:00 AM!

Turn Off Your Cell Phone: Make sure to turn off your cell phone before you enter the testing center! We’ve heard stories of students being kicked out of their test because an alarm or ring went off during the exam. Don’t let this happen to you! You can go a few hours without your phone, we promise!

Believe in Yourself!: It may sound corny, but confidence goes a long way on a standardized test. So remember, you got this! You’ve been studying for months and these tests are just like the practice tests you’ve been doing at home. The questions you see on the test won’t be exactly the same as the ones you’ve been working on with Testive, but they will be similar! You’re going to get to the exam and know exactly what to do! You’ve improved so much from where you started and the official test is just a way to show all your new skills off! You got this!!!

Want extra practice? Sign up for a free online SAT or ACT practice test here!

Need advice or a personalized test prep plan? Contact a Student Success Advisor for a free consultation!

By |2020-06-05T15:14:07+00:00June 5th, 2020|ACT, SAT, Uncategorized|

About the Author:

Luke has been tutoring standardized tests for a little under four years now. He’s worked with countless students of varying learning styles, academic levels, and personalities. His experience has given a tool belt of strategies and methodologies needed to help any student succeed! When not tutoring, he is a comedian and filmmaker living in beautiful Los Angeles, California.