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What Can I Do If I’m Feeling Nervous About My SAT Test Date?

SAT anxiety is completely normal, but you can control any testing situation with a few simple tricks. Calm yourself with these expert test prep secrets!

 Chelsey Snyder
 Managing Director, Vohra Method Tutoring
 Author, Three-Week SAT Crash Course for Reading and Three-Week SAT Crash Course for Grammar
Test anxiety is very normal and common. Anxiety generally comes from feeling like things are out of your control. As you're heading into the SAT, think about the things that you can place into your own control. Along with all the prep you've been doing, the following tips can help increase your confidence and keep you calm.

  1. Aim for as much sleep as you can get: Don't plan anything the night before the test. Many teens are sleep deprived these days, so even try to catch up on sleep. Do whatever it takes to ensure a solid night of sleep before your test date.
  2. Avoid sugar: Trade out your sugary cereal in the morning for something with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Eat like you're about to work out. The SAT isn't weightlifting, but it is a workout for your brain.
  3. Bring your own watch: Many of my students have relayed stories of proctors messing up the timing, not displaying the timing, or otherwise hampering a student's ability to properly keep time during the SAT. One great tip: Get a cheap analog watch. At the start of each section of the test, reset the watch to 12:00. This way, you won't have to do any math to figure out how long it's been. Your minute hand will perfectly track the minutes for you!
  4. Bring layers, water, and even earplugs: You can control your temperature, even if the room is too hot or too cold. You should always stay hydrated. And if you tend to get very distracted by noises, you can control that with earplugs.
  5. Breathe: As silly as it sounds, when people get stressed, they forget to breathe. If you don't breathe while running, you'll get cramps and stitches. If you don't breathe when your brain needs it, you can end up with the equivalent of "brain cramps." Any time you feel stressed, rushed for time, or stuck on a question, just take a deep breath.

Will ZuberbuhlerWill Zuberbuhler
Former CEO
Triumph College Prep

  • Maintain your normal diet: You should eat as you normally do, unless, of course, you don’t normally eat a balanced diet. Lots of sugars, fats, and carbohydrates will only drain your energy. Both the SAT and ACT last around three hours, so they are not only academic tests but tests of endurance as well.
  • Don’t stay up late the week preceding: Watching movies, surfing the Internet, or hanging out with your friends are all activities you may often do each week until very late at night, but this week is special, so make sure you get to bed early each night—not just the night before the test. Remember that the test will begin early on a Saturday morning. You need to condition yourself now.
  • Don’t stress out: Easier said than done, but look, you’ve done your preparation and you know the test, so there’s no reason to stress. Remember that you can retake the test. It’s not your only shot at it. If you’re really having trouble relaxing then look for a diversion like talking with your friends, exercising, or reading.
  • Start thinking about how to celebrate: Plan to reward yourself after the test is over because you deserve it after all your hard work. If you start thinking about this now, you’ll have further motivation to take this seriously.

Find more expert advice on preparing for the SAT or ACT or any exam you may be facing soon in our Test Prep section.

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