High School 2 College

March 7, 2010

The SATs are This Week! Any Last Minute Advice?

If you haven’t already done so, go out and buy tootsie rolls, change the batteries in your calculator, look up a few vocabulary words to bring with you to the test, and remind yourself of the father’s name in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now you are nearly ready for the SATs.

Here are a few more things you can do:

1.  Friday night, get a good night’s sleep.  Don’t try to go to bed too early or you’ll be up half the night staring at the ceiling.  Just get a good amount of sleep after a restful evening.  NO STUDYING TODAY!  Not even for the SATs.

2.  Saturday morning, dress up a little.  When you’re wearing comfy, floppy clothes, your brain takes a rest, too.  When you dress up a little (whatever that means to you), you sit a little straighter and concentrate better.  Insider tip: several studies suggest that kids do worse on standardized tests if they see or wear the color red because they associate red with failure.  So, keep away from red.

3.  Have breakfast.  Even if you don’t usually have breakfast, have breakfast the morning of the SATs.  Make sure it’s mostly protein, not mostly carbohydrates like a bagel or muffin.  Carbs give you a quick burst but leave you feeling sleepy when they wear off.  You’re in it for the long haul!

4.  Get to the test site a bit early.  I’d recommend arriving between 7:30 and 7:45, especially if it’s not your own high school.  Get there early so you can settle in calmly.

5.  Choose your seat.  If they let you pick your seat, choose one away from distractors like the door or windows.  Some kids do better if they’re not near friends; others do better if they sit near friends.  Sit where you can concentrate.  You can socialize afterwards.

6.  Leave your cell phone home! If they catch you using it, even to check the time, they’ll take your SAT away from you and send you home.  It’s been done in Lakeland before.

7.  Bring the following:

  • photo ID — driver’s license or permit or school photo ID.
  • admit ticket — print out another from collegeboard.com if you lost it.
  • vocab words — you need something to start your brain moving before they say “Clear your desk.”
  • pencils – bring at least three or four #2 pencils with clean erasers.
  • calculator — change the batteries this week and make sure it works.  Yes, a graphing calculator is fine.
  • watch — many schools don’t have working wall clocks.  Even if the room you’re in has a working clock, it may be behind you or hard to see.  Don’t rely on the proctor to keep track of how much time you have left.  If you don’t want to wear a watch, put it on the desk in front of you.  Remember, you can’t use your phone to tell the time.
  • snacksthe most important thing you can bring! Bring lots of little chewy things (like tootsie rolls) that you can pop in your mouth easily.  Also bring a more substantial snack for the 10-minute break in the middle.  A power bar or granola bar works nicely.
  • drink — tea helps you concentrate.  The caffeine helps quite a bit, too.   Bring iced tea with sugar, not diet.  If you hate iced tea, bring soda with caffeine and sugar.  Gatorade has too much sodium, which ironically can make you more thirsty later.

Word of warning:  During the long break, if you need the restroom, go there BEFORE you eat your granola bar or drink your iced tea.  If a long line takes a while, they will start without you.  (This did happen to a few kids I know!)

Remember that each of you has the opportunity to take the test again either this year or next year if you don’t like the outcome, so there’s no need for test anxiety or panic.  If you do well, this test counts.  If you don’t do well, it doesn’t count.  You can’t get more low stress than that.  Just relax, remember some strategies, and stay alert!

Wendy Segal


  1. […] you only have days left, see my blog (here and here) for advice on some last-minute things you can do.  If you have a few weeks, get thee to a tutor! […]


    Pingback by Is SAT Tutoring Worth It? A Confession from Princeton Review « High School 2 College — May 13, 2010 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  2. Hi, i’ve been studying SAT for a few months and took the test…. but i got a grade where its average…..
    i wanted to take the ACT because it seemed alot more fitting for me than the SAT…. so my question is whats a good grade that i should aim for on the ACT? is there anyway to Prepare for it? and What is the differnce between the SAT and the ACT? thank you!


    Comment by Selene Wang — August 25, 2010 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

    • Good questions! Some of the answers are on my Nov. blog page on SAT questions. If you go to the ACT website (www.act.org) and follow the page to the test, you can find an SAT/ACT conversion chart. A good grade for you may not be a goof grade for someone else. The best way to prepare for the ACT is to take the sections timed. Don’t just score each section – try to understand the correct answer. Primarily, the ACT is a speed test and the SAT is a test of reason annd logic. The only way to know truly which test is better for you is to take at least one of each. Good luck!


      Comment by highschool2college — August 26, 2010 @ 10:01 am | Reply

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