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SAT Test Day

Teacher/Instructor Eva Holtz
Eva Holtz

Harvard University
Perfect scores on the SAT and 4 SATIIs

Eva is a certified admissions counselor and the founder of PrepPoint, a premier test prep company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In this episode we're going to talk about how you can make the most of test day and there are three main parts, first of all you should be prepared going into the test, also you should have certain things ready the night before and when you arrive at the test center be sure to make yourself comfortable so you could have the best test day possible. Let's check those out in more detail.
So a big part of being prepared is of course having practiced a lot and that serves several purposes. Of course you want to be super comfortable with what you'll be encountering on test day, you also want to be used to doing marathon test taking sessions. You'll be in a test center for probably a little more than four hours so you don't want it to be the first time that you are sitting there and doing testing that long, so you want to build up a tolerance for it well in advance. And you want to be comfortable with these strategies and the contents that going to come up, so get plenty of practice. In addition get up early the whole week before, you probably know that when you're torn from sleep prematurely you're not always as sharp as possible, so make sure you're really in the rhythm of getting up early, so that Saturday doesn't feel absurdly early but rather something you're used to. And finally review lightly the night before, you don't want to put up in a big cram session because you risk stressing yourself out and making it hard to fall asleep but at the same time going over lightly what you've been reviewing for quite a while, will make it stick the best so that when you wake up in the morning it's fresh in your mind.
In addition to being prepared that way, you'll also want to have certain things ready the night before, those are your ID and that could be a driver's license or a student ID, a passport or several other forms of identification, if you're not sure that you have something that works then check out the college board website and it will walk you through the different options you have to fulfill this requirement when you show up at the test center. In addition to ID, you'll need your admissions ticket which you should be able to get either in the mail or on-line depending and of course wooden pencils. Now this is actually something that's changed recently, it used to be the case you could use mechanical pencils but the rules have been changed. So be sure to have plenty of traditional number two pencils to use, the color may vary but, you know what I'm talking about. In addition you'll want a watch, we're so used to living in a world where we never actually use watches because we have our cell phone clocks, but that's not going to be something you're allowed to use when you're at the test center. So bring a watch whether it's super modern or more traditional so that you do have a time piece you can actually reference, 'cause you're not sure whether or not you'll be within view of the clock, although you should definitely try to be.
You also want a calculator and virtually any calculator you might own is going to be fine, a lot of people have the TI and that's probably the most common choice and it's definitely allowed. Pretty much the only way you are in trouble is if you have a calculator that beeps out loud, which is impressive if you own that or it has a roll of tape, also very impressive and finally if you have a calculator that has a QWERTY keyboard, you can't use any of those but that's pretty rare. If you have a traditional scientific calculator or one of these you should be in good shape.
And finally bring a snack, you will have breaks so during those breaks you want to have a little something to eat and drink. You want to bring probably a water bottle, maybe a sports drink and then something healthy to eat, an apple or some sort of wrapped little snack 'cause you're going to be there a long time and you definitely don't want to get hungry and you want to keep your blood sugar level consistent across that time. You probably won't be able to actually eat during the test itself but in between you should be able to sneak a snack in.
Finally, you want to make yourself comfortable when you get to the test center and there are several ingredients with that. First off, you want to caffeinate yourself, or not, according to what you're used to. If you start every morning with a coffee you can imagine you do not want to start that morning off without one, but on the flip side just because it feels early and it's going to be a long day doesn't mean that as someone who doesn't regularly have caffeine, you should start. So follow whatever caffeine habit you're used to in the morning. Also eat breakfast even if you're not used to, have a little something. You don't want to go supper overboard and have a huge pile of flap jacks because that might put you into a food coma but definitely have something to wake up your brain and to keep you really focused during the test.
Also arrive early, you don't want to be there at the last minute, be stressed out about where your classroom is and which seat you get, so arrive early and in fact if you are going to a test center that you are not used to attending like it's not your local high school or the high school that you're used to going 'cause it's across town and maybe you visit friends there, you want to definitely know where you're going and not have that be an extra stress on test day. So you might want to do a dry run when you drive there in advance or even recruit a family member to take you, so that's one last thing that you have to worry about.
Then when you're finally in your test center find a comfortable desk, there are several ingredients to that. You want to be within view of the clock because that's the official time piece of the test and you want to know when you aren't going to run out of time. In addition you want to make sure that your desk is comfortable so it's not wobbly or squeaky and finally if you are right handed you want to be in a right handed desk or left handed in a left handed desk. Make sure you've got those needs taken care of. And finally you should have breaks every hour or so, so make sure that you get them and when you do get them use them, whether you need to have your snack, go to the bathroom or just take a stroll around to get the blood flowing and work out any cramps you may have developed in your legs, definitely take advantage of the breaks when you get them. So let's wrap up the three aspects of test day that we've talked about.
So to recap, you want to be prepared by the time you walk into the test, in particular you want to have been getting up early the whole week before and have practiced a lot so you feel really comfortable with what's coming up in the test. In addition, you want to have things ready the night before, your calculator, your admissions ticket, your ID, your snack etcetera, so that that you don't have to worry that morning about missing any of those important pieces. And finally when you do get to the test center make yourself comfortable, make sure you get the breaks you need, the desk you need and anything else that you need to make the most of your test day. Remember you've put in hours studying for this test and all those need to be the best and best that they can be, so make test day count by being as prepared as possible to make it a good one.