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Last-Minute SAT Tips for the Test Day

It is officially SAT season, and after weeks or perhaps months of studying, it’s finally time to take the real test. Whether it’s an exam, interview, or whatnot, as humans, our first instinct is to either cram or ignore. You may lock ourselves in your rooms, until it’s the dead of night, desperately hoping that one last vocabulary word will soak into your brains. Or on the complete flip side, we neglect our prep books and our notes, and shove away the reality of the test altogether.

Now, these methods are neither productive nor are they stress-relieving in any way. Today, we’ll go over some tips and tricks on how to ensure that your SAT day is a success— without the added stress.

Night before the test day
Instead of panicking the night before the SAT, take some helpful actions to stay pro-active and prepared

The Night Before

The night leading up to your test day can be filled with uncertainty and paranoia. Is my calculator fully charged? Do I have a photo ID? Do I even know the Pythagorean Theorem?

Instead of spending your time panicking, try filling your day with distractions (activities that will get your mind off the test) or proactions (things you can do to be pro-active ouside of reviewing your notes).


  • If you’re feeling empty, watch a short movie or talk to a friend on the phone

  • If you’re feeling antsy, go outside and get some fresh air

  • If you’re feeling panicky, try meditating or practice deep breathing


  • If you haven’t already, print your admission ticket (Can’t find it? Click here)

  • Locate your Photo ID (Follow these guidelines)

  • Pack your bag using the following packing list:

1. Your admission ticket

2. Your Photo ID

3. 3-5 sharpened, nonmechanical number 2 pencils with usable erasers

4. College-Board approved calculator with extra batteries (Don’t know if your calculator is permitted by College-Board? Find out here)

5. A watch to keep track of the time, in case a clock or timer is out of sight

6. A jacket in case the air-conditioning is on blast

7. A snack in case you need an energy boost during the break

8. A bottle of water in case you don’t have access to a water fountain

9. Any comfort items, such as lip balm or hair ties

  • Pick out your outfit with these questions in mind: Will I be able to sit comfortably for a long period of time? Will I have to keep adjusting or fidgeting? Will I be too hot or too cold? Remember, layers are your friends.

  • Set multiple alarms in 5-minute increments in case you miss one. Make sure you set your alarm for at least an hour before you have to leave your house.

  • When all is said and done, go to bed early. A good night’s sleep is the best way to make sure you are fully rested before the test.

The Morning Of

We’ve all had the nightmare: you wake up from a deep slumber, only to realize in horror that you’ve overslept. To keep your SAT nightmare from becoming a reality, follow these tips!

  • Wake up early, allotting yourself enough time to get ready without rushing. (Always overestimate, never underestimate!)

  • Take a shower to make sure you’re fully awake

  • Eat a hearty and nutritious breakfast. Whether it’s hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, or sliced fruit, eat a meal that will provide you with enough energy— you have a long day ahead of you.

  • Drink your coffee or tea— or don’t. Stick to your normal routine because SAT day is not the day to start experimenting.

  • Leave your house early: traffic can be unpredictable, so giving yourself some buffer time is the best way to go.

At the Testing Site

Try to arrive at the site by 7:45, when the testing site opens. The doors close at 8:00 with possible exceptions, which is to be found on the admisison ticket. You may be guided to the testing room upon checking in or when the test starts. Here are some things to expect once you are seated.

  • Your proctor will hand out SAT booklet and answer sheet

  • You may be asked to take out your pencil and calculator and nothing else

  • Prepare to take the test while listening to the instructions given by the proctor

  • Take the test— you may only stay in one section during each portion of the test

  • You will have two breaks— ten minutes after the 65-minute Reading test and five minutes after the Writing & Language test and the first section of the Math test. In case you are taking the essay section, there will be another two-minute break before the test.

At the testing room
When you arrive at the testing room, take the time to settle in and have your mind set up for the exam

Sample Schedule

If needed, use this schedule to roughly plan out your morning. This schedule is for a “report time”, or time you are expected to arrive at the testing center.

6:00 Wake up!

6:00-6:15 Shower

6:15-6:45 Eat breakfast

6:45-7:15 Brush your teeth, get dressed, etc.

7:15-7:30 Final check of your bag, admission ticket, and ID, and get out the door!

COVID19 Safety Procedures

Whether your testing site is requiring students to wear masks or not will be dependent on the decision of the center. While checking the policy of the testing site on its website is safe, it is even safer to pack a mask in your bag in case you need it. If you feel sick on the test day, stay home and take care of yourself. You can rest relieved with the thought that you always have a next chance(and that you won't be charged a cancellation fee).

Final Note

The SAT can seem scary and intimidating, but simply following these tips can help your day run much smoother and make your testing experience much more tolerable. Remember, you are not alone; about 1.5 million students take the SAT each year, meaning you’re all in the same boat. And if you leave the testing center feeling as though you knew absolutely nothing, treat yourself gently. A bad score is not the end of the world. Best of luck to all!

Want to Take an Extra Step?

Now you have taken note of the procedures for the test day, you have time to step further be even more prepared for the exam. Below are some of the actions you may take.

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