What to Do Before Your First SAT

Josia Yuan
Josia Yuan

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For many high school juniors, this time of year is when they will experience a major benchmark. Taking the College Board’s official SAT for the very first time. Yes, it may be a bit stressful and nerve-racking to take this first step into your journey of college application. But Empowerly is here to help guide your way through the process. If you are nervous about what to do before your first SAT test, use the following tips to prepare for success.

Do Some Practice Problems Every Day This Week

For students looking to be well-prepared, doing practice problems everyday can keep you in the test-taking “mode” and help you stay familiar with the flow of the questions and your thought-process. For students who are still a bit uncertain about whether they are ready or not, doing practice problems gives you extra practice and time to adjust to the test-taking mode.

Use College Board’s website or reliable test preparation books to find real SAT practice exams. Instead of cramming in hundreds of problems at the same time, take 1 hour to 1.5 hours every day to do several questions of each type: Math, Grammar, and Reading. After looking at the answer key, be sure to look back at your responses to understand why you chose the answer you chose. Don’t just rush through a test and not thoroughly check it over; aim for quality review instead of quantity.

Stay Focused and Stay Calm

As you do SAT practice problems, whether you are doing them alone or with friends, make sure your attention is on the questions, and that you are spending a fair amount of time and focus on reflection. Outside of the that time, while you should be mindful about the SAT test, there is no need to overly stress yourself out or to think too much about the test. Overthinking not only strains your attention, but also negatively influences your attitude and confidence level. Talk to a trusted friend, teacher, or family member if you are feeling nervous. Take some time to relax and compose yourself.

Keep It Normal and Usual

A lot of SAT Test Prep guides advise students to go to bed earlier than usual, eat more vegetables and fruits, or start exercising to boost their immune system– all a week before the SAT. These are all valid suggestions in terms of making sure you are in good physical condition during the test day. However, if you are not used to doing these kinds of activities, you do not need to force yourself to do any of them. For example, if you usually go to bed at 11 p.m., keep it around that time! Forcing yourself to sleep at 10 p.m. may only lower your sleep quality and have the opposite effect. The point is that you should go with a healthy daily routine that you are most comfortable with and not feel the pressure to follow exactly what the guides suggest. However, if you are currently experiencing lack of rest, exercise, or nutrition, try to adjust your habits at least one or two weeks before the SAT, so that your body has time to become comfortable with the new pattern.

Get Everything Ready The Night Before

There are so many occasions when students find out last minute that their pencils do not work, or they had the wrong test room numbers, or they have forgotten their calculator. Double check your backpack and make sure everything you need for the next day is ready:

  • Your SAT admission ticket
  • An official photo ID
  • 3 sharpened non-mechanical NO.2 pencils
  • A good eraser
  • Your calculator (with an extra set of batteries)
  • A few healthy snacks (and maybe some dark chocolate to keep you going!)
  • A bottle of water

Set the Alarm, Eat Breakfast, and Breathe!

Set your alarm carefully so that you have plenty of time to eat a healthy breakfast. This way you not only guarantee a good energy base, but also allow yourself time to fully wake up and be prepared for the SAT. The SAT test is really like a marathon, during which your brain and body need energy to properly function. Choose food that can provide you with a good amount of energy but will not weigh you down. After breakfast, do your usual de-stress routines – it can be listening to music, talking to friends, anything to calm down. And finally, breathe! Trust that your hard work will pay off. 

Questions? Let us know!