How to Prepare for Test Day
Remember to bring the following with you on Saturday morning:
- Registration slip (print off of SAT/ACT website)
- Directions to test center
- Calculator (extra batteries if you think you’ll need them)
- Approved calculators
- four-function calculator
- scientific calculator
- graphing calculator
- Approved calculators
- Stopwatch for your desk—digital with NO BEEPING—stopwatch is not mandatory, but useful instead of having to look up at the clock or rely on the proctor to tell you the time left. My students have always told me they wished they had a stopwatch on test day.
- Two sharpened No. 2 pencils with erasers
- Student ID
- Food—something nutritious & easy to eat—a banana or energy bar is usually best
- Drink—water/Gatorade/flavored water
- Social security number (optional)
- Email address (optional)
Nutrition and Hydration
Nutrition is an important factor that can impact performance on test day for the SAT or ACT. Eating a healthy and balanced meal can help provide the necessary nutrients and energy for optimal brain function and concentration during the exam.
Consuming foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can provide sustained energy and help prevent a mid-test crash. Additionally, consuming protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt, or nuts can help provide long-lasting energy and keep you feeling full.
It’s also important to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day leading up to the exam. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and difficulty concentrating, which can impact your test performance.
On the other hand, consuming foods that are high in sugar or unhealthy fats, such as fast food or candy, can cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash, which can negatively impact concentration and focus during the test.
Sleep and Test Performance
Getting enough sleep before taking a test like the SAT or ACT is crucial for optimal performance. Sleep plays a critical role in memory consolidation, learning, and cognitive function, which are all important factors for performing well on these exams.
When you sleep, your brain consolidates and strengthens new memories, allowing you to better recall information that you learned the previous day. Lack of sleep can impair these processes and lead to difficulty retaining and recalling information.
Moreover, sleep deprivation can affect cognitive functions such as attention, alertness, and reaction time, all of which are essential for performing well on a standardized test. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to make careless mistakes, have difficulty concentrating, and experience mental fog, all of which can negatively impact your test performance.
Research suggests that adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and teenagers require even more. In the days leading up to the test, it’s essential to prioritize getting enough sleep by establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding stimulants like caffeine or electronics before bed, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
Create a Good Sleep Routine
Creating a good sleep pattern takes time and effort, but it is essential for overall health and wellbeing, as well as for optimal test performance. Here are some tips on how to create a good sleep pattern:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and improves the quality of your sleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Develop a calming routine that helps you wind down before bed. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool, and that your bed is comfortable and supportive.
- Limit exposure to electronics before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your sleep. Try to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bed.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep, so it’s best to avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime.
When it comes to test day, it’s best to start preparing your sleep pattern at least a week or two in advance. This gives your body enough time to adjust to your new sleep schedule and ensures that you’re well-rested and alert on test day.