What to Expect on Test Day … and How to Prepare for It

Once you have finished studying for the SAT, you need to be ready for test day. Below is a chronological checklist to start the day before the test. Enjoy!

Day Before Test

  • Gather two #2 pencils and an eraser. Only partially sharpen your pencils. A perfectly sharp pencil will not fill in the answer bubbles as well as a dull pencil. Mechanical pencils are not allowed because they might have the wrong type of lead and, therefore, might damage the paper. Pens are also not allowed.
  • Verify that your calculator has fresh batteries. The last thing you need is a dead battery during the test.
  • Bring a watch that does not have an alarm. Noise-making watches are not allowed. Alarm-less watches will help you manage your time better.
  • Retrieve your photo id and SAT admission ticket. You will not be admitted to the test without them.
  • Pack everything you plan to take to the test in a bag or backpack that you can put under your seat during the SAT.
  • Cell phones are NOT allowed. If anyone’s phone makes noise during the test, or even during the breaks, the test taker will be dismissed. All electronic devices like iPods, BlackBerries, PDAs, cameras, and separate timers are not allowed. Anyone who does bring them may be dismissed, have their scores canceled, and/or have their device confiscated.
  • Make sure that you gather everything necessary the day before the test, that way if something is lost you will have time to look for it.
  • Go to bed on time or even early. You do not want to be half asleep during the SAT.

Morning of Test Day

  • Eat breakfast! Never skip breakfast just before a big test. You will need energy to think and stay alert during the test.
  • Pack a healthy snack. After every hour of SAT testing, there is a short break during which you can eat or drink whatever you brought. If you did not eat enough breakfast, eating a snack can help some.
  • Dress in layers. Testing centers vary from frigid to sauna-like. By dressing in layers you will be comfortable in any environment.

During the Test

  • Unless otherwise instructed, you need to be at your testing center by 7:45 AM.
  • Make sure to fill in the answer bubbles completely with a #2 pencil. If you change answers, erase as well as possible. Partially filled bubbles may adversely effect your SAT score.
  • Do not get bogged down on a hard question. Skip it and come back to it after you have answered the easier questions. Remember though, when you skip a question, to skip that question’s bubble also.
  • The test should be completed by 12:30 to 1:00 PM.

Next up . . . “Using Your SAT Score Creatively

This is part three of a four-part series that I am writing on SAT preparation.

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