The Night Before & Morning Of Your ACT or SAT

If you’re signed up to take the test this Saturday, it’s crunch time. You’ve already prepared in your own way, whether that’s by doing some practice questions, working with a tutor, studying from a book, or crossing your fingers and deciding to wing it. The big preparation is done. Now, it’s all about setting yourself up for success by doing the right things the night before and the morning of the big test.


The Night Before the Test…

  • Go over the logistics. Make sure you know the precise starting time. Double check your testing center and make sure you know exactly how to get there. If you are getting driven by someone else, make sure they also know how to get to the testing center and what time you need to leave. Determine how long it will take you to get ready so that you aren’t in a rush. You don’t want to risk any unfortunate surprises on test day.


  • Pack your backpack. Don’t scramble to get your supplies until the next morning. The night before the test, make sure you have everything you’ll need: #2 pencils, a calculator, back up batteries for your calculator, your testing ticket, and a photo ID. If you like wearing a watch to track your time, pack that – but make sure there are no alerts or alarms that make sound! Finally, throw in anything else that you might want, like a pack of gum, a snack, and a bottle of water.


  • Lay out your clothing. Some people say, “Dress well to test well,” but I say, “Dress comfy to test well.” Okay, it’s not quite as catchy, but it’s true! Pick out some clothing that is comfortable to sit in, because you don’t want to be adjusting your jeans or fiddling with awkward sleeves throughout the test. Another handy tip is to wear layers. You don’t want to be uncomfortably hot or cold while you test, so wear layers you can add or remove as necessary!


  • Set your alarm (and five others). Can you imagine the horror of waking up only to discover you slept through your alarm and missed the test? Yikes. Don’t risk this! Set your alarm clock, your phone alarm, an alarm on your laptop, and so on. Set your mom’s alarm and your dad’s alarm and your little sister’s alarm. Set the alarm on your oven. Tell your grandma call you and wake you up. Just make sure you’re up!


  • Carbo-load & hydrate like a marathon runner. Seriously, eat a filling meal the night before the test so that you are fueled for the next day. Sure, you’ll be sitting down and not running 26.2 miles, but testing for that long can still be exhausting. Make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water. You don’t want to be chugging water during the test because your bathroom breaks will be limited, so get that H20 in the day before instead.


  • Get a good night’s sleep. You really don’t want to be nodding off midway through the math section. Get in bed earlier than usual the night before the test, put away your cell phone, and turn off the TV. Make sure your room is completely dark and quiet, and get those extra Z’s. Your brain will be rested and ready for the big day.


The Morning Of the SAT…

  • Eat a good breakfast. My biggest advice for you is to stick with what works! This isn’t the morning to see how you function on a stomach full of chocolate chip pancakes, a donut, three eggs, and some hash browns (and spoiler alert, you’d probably fall asleep mid-test). Instead, stick with a healthy breakfast that you know to be great fuel, whether that’s a bowl of oatmeal, cereal, an omelet, or whatever. Skip the coffee if possible, because it’s a diuretic that might make you have to pee all morning. If you absolutely rely on the caffeine (no judgment!) limit yourself to one cup.


  • Head to your test center early. Even if you’ve driven the same route a million times, give yourself an extra ten minutes on test day. The test start time is strict, and you don’t want to miss it because you’re stuck behind a slow driver or in a traffic jam. Make sure you’re not in a rush so that you can get in a calm headspace before the SAT or ACT begins.


  • Turn off your phone. Don’t put it on silent or on vibrate. Just turn it off! Seriously, if your phone rings in the middle of the exam, no one will be happy (and you might be asked to leave). Don’t risk it. Turn it off.


  • Relax. Once you’re in the classroom, there is nothing else to be done. Take a deep breath. Aside from the test-specific preparation, you’re equipped with years of education that will aid you through this test.  It’s not nearly as scary as it may seem, and you can reward yourself with a nap or a good meal (or both!) as soon as you’re done.



You’ve got this!