24 Hours Before the SAT: The Ultimate Checklist

Alarm clock

The big day is finally here, probably much sooner than you expected.

If you’re down to the last 24 hours before the SAT, follow this checklist to make sure your hours of hard work don’t go to waste.

The Day Before:

  • Get some exercise. Studies show that aerobic exercise helps pump oxygen into your bloodstream and can reduce pre-test stress and improve your ultimate performance.
  • Find your ticket. Print out your admission ticket from College Board, and pack it away so that you don’t forget to bring it to the actual exam. There’s nothing worse than having to rush back home before the exam starts.
  • Collect your toolkit. You’ll need #2 pencils, a decent eraser, a calculator (with fresh batteries) and a photo ID.
  • Look up directions to the testing center. Plan to arrive 20-30 minutes early, just in case you have trouble getting to the testing facility or are running late.
  • Put away your study materials. You’ve spent weeks or even months studying for this exam. Spending the evening trying to master a difficult concept hurts you more than it helps you.
  • Eat a balanced dinner. A healthy meal will help, and don’t overdo it on the after-dinner snacks.  Spend the rest of the night going through your normal evening routine without thinking about the SAT.
  • Go to bed. One of the best things that you can do is get a good night’s sleep.

The Morning of:

  • Wake up at a “normal” time. Don’t sleep in, but don’t wake up at the crack of dawn either.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. High-protein foods like eggs and whole grains like oatmeal will keep you mentally sharp. Try to stay away from refined sugars and white flour.
  • Grab a snack. Even if you don’t think you’re going to need it, it’s better safe than sorry.
  •  Don’t study. Spending the morning studying for the SAT is the best way to psych yourself out. If it’d help ease your mind, you can review some flashcards, but trying to learn something new or study hard will only drain the mental energy you need today.
  • Drink lots of water. Throughout your morning, make sure you’re keeping hydrated. When you’re dehydrated, you can’t think clearly.
  • Wear something comfy. Some people feel most comfortable and confident when they look relatively put-together, while others would rather wear sweats.
  • Do something to get your brain moving, like reading a book. Try to do something that will get your brain moving without overtaxing it.
  • Don’t stress. If you feel like you’re getting anxious, find a task that will keep you occupied and leave you feeling confident and relaxed. This could be anything from cleaning your room to jumping on a treadmill.
  • Leave early. We recommend leaving for test center 20-30 minutes early, just in case you have trouble finding it or have an unexpected problem.
  • Leave your phone at home. If any of you carry around a pocket stereo or a pager, College Board says you’ll need to leave those at home too.

When You Arrive:

  • Store your stuff. Leave the prohibited items in your car or ask where you’re allowed to stash your stuff during the exam. Make sure that all of your devices are turned off, because a rogue ringtone can mean an automatic fail for the phone’s owner.
  • Pump yourself up. Talk to yourself in the mirror; listen to some Taylor Swift. Do whatever works for you.

During the Test:

  • Focus. It’s obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Don’t think about the rest of your application or your personal life or how you did on the last section. Just focus on the questions in front of you.
  • Pace yourself. Most people like to have some kind of pacing plan before they start.
  • Conquer one section at a time. Even if you feel like you performed badly on a previous section, don’t let it break your concentration. Focus on the section in front of you.
  • Don’t rush the last questions. Test-takers tend to go through the last few questions a bit too quickly because they’re eager to check their answers. But those questions are just as important as the others, so take your time.

After the Test:

  • Have fun. No matter what happened during the exam, give yourself a “brain break.” Take the rest of the day to relax, spend time with friends, or just watch hours of television. You’ve earned it.

Though we don’t recommend using it on test day, the Ready4 SAT app has over a thousand questions and flashcards designed to help you master the SAT in the most efficient way possible.