The College Board makes information about the SAT registration process and test day readily available, but there are other things you should know which are not found on the SAT website. How early should you get there? What steps can you take to ease anxiety before the test? What do first time test takers wish they had known before their big day?
- Arrive early. You have brought your photo ID, your water bottle, and your pencils, but many students are not prepared for the long line when they arrive at check-in. You should plan on arriving to the testing site at least 30 minutes early. For the SAT, the College Board recommends at least 15 minutes before the doors close at 8am, but with the crowds on testing day you should plan to arrive with plenty of time to spare.
- Plan your driving route. The week before the SAT or ACT do a test drive to your testing location. Make sure that you do it at the same time of day as you will on the real test day. This way you can find the best route and will be able to see any traffic patterns and possible issues on your drive there.
- Be prepared to write in cursive. The SAT asks you to duplicate a proclamation at the beginning of the test, declaring the confidentiality of the test. You are asked to write this in cursive. Being aware that you will be asked to write in cursive can save you from any unnecessary surprises on your test day. Do not stress about perfecting your cursive penmanship, as this exercise has no bearing on your score. Rather, knowing that this will be expected of you will help you to remain calm when you are asked to do this before the test starts. You may of course, print if you decide to take the optional (50 minute) essay.
- Practice with the same calculator you will use on the real SAT. As you are preparing for the SAT, make sure you are using the same calculator you are planning to bring to the test. Knowing all of your calculator’s functions and being comfortable with how it works can save you some precious time during the tests. See the list of approved calculators here. Be advised: in the new SAT, there is an entire math section (25 questions) where you are not permitted to use a calculator
- Focus on healthy eating and sleeping the week of the test. Cramming just before the SAT won’t necessarily improve your scores, but losing sleep before the test will have a negative impact on your performance. Take care of yourself the week of the test so that you are well rested that morning.
- Use each test break to your advantage. During the four hour testing time you will get one longer break and 2 short ones . During the longer breaks get out of your seat, stretch, drink water, and clear your mind. Don’t spend these breaks dwelling on the previous section or start to become anxious about the upcoming sections. Relax, regroup, and move forward.
The above was taken from Summit Education’s blog. (I’ve updated it to reflect the new SAT) I use Summit materials in my business and its scoring test center to score tests and track my students’ progress.