— The Day of Your Test (Woot!) —Congratulations! It’s your big day. Hopefully you’re well rested and ready to rock!
***Note: if you need to, print this portion of the guide so that you can reference it on the day of your test. It’ll ensure that you follow all the necessary steps!***
Now here’s what you need to do:
1. Wake up 2 hours before your test. It takes the human brain over 90 minutes to “boot up” completely, so make sure you’re fully awake before taking the SAT or ACT. Set your alarms and have your parents wake you up as well. Do everything in your power to be out of bed and fully alert at least 120 minutes before you first put pen to paper.
2. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water the SECOND you’re out of bed. This will hydrate you and also give you a chance to pee before the test. Get hydrated early so you’re not distracted by a full bladder when you face the beast.
3. Eat a big, healthy breakfast IMMEDIATELY upon waking up. You need to be well-fueled for your exam, but you don’t want to be full and groggy. Therefore, you should eat a nice, big breakfast full of complex carbs, healthy proteins, and fats as soon as you wake up so that you’ll have time to digest. Whole grain cereal, yogurt, and whole-grain toast with peanut butter would be perfect. Taking your test on an empty stomach is TESTING SUICIDE – YOU NEED TO BE WELL-FUELED. Obviously, you don’t want to eat the Lumberjack Breakfast at IHOP and go into a coma, but you need to have a real, proper breakfast.
A great trick is to have your parents bring you breakfast in bed on the day of the test. This way, you can wake up with a “treat” and get yourself on the right foot. It makes a big difference. While you’re eating, plan your schedule with your parents and get everything set up for the next 100 minutes or so.
4. A note on coffee: If you usually drink coffee/caffeine, make sure you DRINK COFFEE. If you usually don’t drink coffee, DON’T DRINK COFFEE. You’ll need the caffeine to function normally if you’re a regular coffee drinker, but if you’re not, avoid the stimulant – you’ll be jittery and distracted. Follow your normal caffeine routine for optimal testing performance.
5. Make sure you take a shower. You want to be clean, fresh, and happy when you walk into your exam. Countless studies have shown that people who shower in the morning are more productive, more alert, happier, and less stressed. Even if you don’t usually shower in the morning, you do today. Just as cold water shuts your body down, hot water expands your veins, improves your bloodflow, and enhances your alterness.
6. Make sure to wear really comfortable, layered clothing. You want to be comfortable during your exam. Wear soft, comfy clothes with layers. You don’t know if the testing center will be too hot or too cold, so be sure you have clothes that can be altered to keep you comfortable and focused. Pajama pants, a t-shirt, sneakers, and a sweatshirt are usually perfect. No need to treat the test like a fashion show.
7. Go on a POWER WALK. When you’re full, showered, and dressed, go out and take a nice, relaxing, 20 or 30-minute walk. Make sure you listen to 60bpm music while you walk (or at least some form of RELAXING music). This will do wonders to get your blood flowing, relax you, help you to digest your food, and get you test-ready. Don’t ignore this step – you’re about to be sitting down for the next 5 hours – trust me, you REALLY want to do this.
8. Double-check for everything you need before you leave for the testing center, and bring snacks!
Make sure you have your calculator, your ID, your test ticket, etc. One thing to really emphasize is the “Tear Out Review” material and the Checklists you need to bring.We’ll get back to this shortly.
9. Leave for the test early. Nothing is more stressful than getting to the testing center with 2 minutes to spare (or late, God forbid). This will activate your reptilian brain (in other words, you’ll go into “fight or flight mode” and your ability to think logically will shut down). Leave early and get there early. If you don’t think you have time to eat, shower, walk, and still get there early, then wake up even earlier!
10. When you get to the testing center, AVOID YOUR FRIENDS. They will be talking about one of two things, both of which will do nothing but stress you out:
A) “I’m so nervous / this stinks!” You want to stay positive. No point in listening to this drivel.
B) “I’m not nervous at all – I’m actually really prepared!” Equally as annoying.
You have your entire life to spend with your friends. For the next 20-30 minutes, avoid them. Instead:
11. Put on 60bpm music and play it loud. Really get into the groove. Relax yourself and put your brainwaves at their optimal level. You want make sure your brain is fully synced to optimal learning frequencies before you take your test, and this will ensure that you’re there.
12. Grab your “Tear Out Review” material and your Test-Day Checklists and cycle through a few problems from each section at a time. There’s nothing worse than toggling from your sleep-state to test-state instantly with no form of warm-up.
A few years ago, I noticed that my students almost always performed worst on the first few sections of their tests, then improved as they went along.
This struck me as strange. After all, you’d expect students to get tired and lose focus as they went along. But no. My students were actually “gearing into” the material as their brains warmed up. As an experiment, I had my students work on a few problems from each section (that they’d already solved) before they walked into the SAT/ACT. The results were insane: students who did this were out-scoring students who didn’t by 50-100 points on the SAT, and 1-2 points on the ACT. Twenty minutes of extra work on the morning of the exam led to the equivalent of 1-2 WEEKS worth of progress!
You might think that this “extra work” will tire you out early, but exactly the opposite is true – it’ll warm you up and make you more comfortable with the real test. The process is simple:
1. Read through each Test Day Checklist for each section of your test.
2. After you read through your Test Day Checklist, re-solve 4-5 problems of each respective section from a section you’ve already done.
In other words, read the English Test Day Checklist, then solve a few ACT English problems. Then read the Math Test Day Checklist, then solve a few math problems. And so on and so forth.
Note: if you want to get your hands on my Test Day Checklists, packed with the most essential strategies and tactics for all the sections of the SAT and ACT, be sure to check out my online test prep system, Green Test Prep – they’re included with the system, and you’ll learn exactly how to use them throughout your entire program for greatest effect.
For your tear-out review problems, be 100% sure that you’re bringing problems you’ve already solved. The point here isn’t to stress you out – it’s to put you in the zone. Put on your music, grab your problems, and re-solve them one at a time from scratch after reading your checklists.
This won’t just warm your brain up – it’ll also keep you focused and avoid the jittery, useless anxiety-dance that most of your friends will be doing elsewhere. Continue cycling through this process until the test is announced, and don’t forget to read your Essay Checklist!
Finally, when you’re given your “two-minute warning:”
13. Go to the bathroom. Even if you don’t really feel like you need to go, just be sure. It’ll help improve your focus later on.
A few more notes on the test itself (once it begins)
1. Take advantage of your breaks! Don’t just sit around when your breaks are called. Stand up, jump around, stretch, move around, and get your blood flowing again. If you have even the smallest inkling that you might need to use the restroom, run, don’t walk, and take care of it. Be on your feet the entire time. If you have the opportunity, grab a little snack – half a banana – a half-handful of almonds – a sip of water – to keep your blood sugar up.
2. Pop chewing gum in before your hardest section(s). Chewing gum enhances alertness for 20 minutes after you start chewing it. Then the effect fades for about an hour. Time your sections and use gum for a quick boost in mental power whenever you need it.
3. If you don’t like your seat, or if there’s a problem, SPEAK UP. Is the kid next to you tapping his foot? Are you too close to the door and finding it distracting? Tell the proctor IMMEDIATELY, before the test begins. Is the AC too low or too high? SPEAK UP. Most proctors will be happy to help. Don’t just accept sub-par testing conditions. Change them!
4. Sit with good posture. Compressing your spine kills your mental performance and your energy levels. Sit up tall and with good posture, and don’t slouch. You’ll thank me, and so will your spine.
That’s All There Is to It!!!
I am absolutely AMPED for you! You’re better prepared than 99% of the students taking this test, and you are going to absolutely DESTROY this test!
I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished to reach this point, and you should be proud of yourself. Now get in there and knock the test dead!
GOOD LUCK IN THERE (NOT THAT YOU’LL NEED IT)!!!
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Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed my guide. If you have any questions, or need anything whatsoever, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly support team and we’ll be happy to help you out!
Founder, Green Test Prep