Test Day Preparation

You know you need to do well on the SAT Reasoning Test™ or ACT® to impress the admissions officers at the colleges you're looking at, and you've probably already heard lots of advice from parents and teachers about how to study. Assuming that you've been keeping up with your schoolwork and have completed several different practice tests to prepare, you're ready to face the challenge. Try these test day preparation tips - which actually begin the night before the test - to do your very best.

Commit to a Healthy Sleep Pattern

It's not enough to try to go to bed early the night before the test. Nerves can get in your way, and you might find it hard to fall asleep hours earlier than your typical bedtime. Start getting to bed early enough to get at least eight full hours of sleep the week before the test, and stick to that schedule right up until the night before the exam.

The Night Before

Set Two Alarms

You definitely don't want to oversleep on the day of the test, so set your phone as well as a traditional alarm clock early enough to give yourself time to eat breakfast and give yourself a half-hour cushion to get to the test center. This will keep you relaxed and account for unexpected issues like traffic jams.

Pack Your Bag

Empty your backpack of your regular school supplies so you don't accidentally bring something to the test center that's off-limits. Load your bag up with the supplies you need for the test, including a print-out of your admission ticket, your photo ID, an approved calculator, and three or four sharpened pencils with good erasers.

You should also bring a refillable water bottle and some healthy snacks to enjoy during the break. High-protein foods like a turkey sandwich or mixed nuts will keep you full and alert during the long testing period.


Stay home the night before the test instead of going out with friends. Resist the urge to cram for the test or squeeze in more practice, which can make you nervous and won't help you perform any better. Instead, watch a movie, play a game with family, or read a book before turning in early for a good night's sleep.

The Morning of the Test

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Again, a protein-packed meal will help you avoid hunger pangs when you're concentrating on the test, so choose eggs or peanut butter toast instead of a sugary cereal that can lead to a mid-morning energy crash. If you normally drink coffee, test day is not the time to skip it; however, it's not a good idea to load up on caffeine if you don't normally do so.

Leave Early

Take your time getting dressed, choosing comfortable clothing and layers to be prepared. Double check your bag and try to get to the test center early so you can relax and settle in, which will make it easier to focus on your test.


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