Last-Minute SAT and ACT Prep Tips

By Kate Kelly

Expert reviewed by Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT

The SAT and ACT can be particularly stressful for kids with learning and thinking differences. Feeling prepared on testing day can help build confidence. Follow these tips to make sure your teen is ready.

Up to a Week Before the Test

  • Make sure you know how to get to the test site and which entrance will be accessible on the morning of the test.
  • If your teen tends to get lost, have him take a practice walk to the testing room or do it together. (If the test is held at a different school, call ahead to arrange this.)
  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization. Remind your child to use them if his heart starts pounding or if he feels nervous.
  • Go over any accommodations your teen is receiving. If he gets extra time, explain that he’ll be in a different room and can’t leave until the extended time period is up.

The Night Before

  • Have your child gather everything he’ll need: admission ticket, acceptable photo ID, approved calculator (and backup batteries), and at least two No. 2 pencils.
  • Pack a snack, like a bottle of water and a granola bar. Remind your teen he can eat only during the break.
  • Tell your teen to leave his cell phone at home. If he brings it into the testing center, he may not be allowed to finish the test.
  • Encourage your child to go to bed early.
  • Skip last-minute cramming. At this point, your teen is better off relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep.

Test Day Morning

  • Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast that includes protein.
  • Plan to arrive at the test site early. If your teen is late, he won’t be admitted.
  • Advise your teen not to second-guess his answers unless he’s concerned he made a careless error. He’s better off sticking with his first answer.
  • Put things in perspective. Tell your child you think he’s going to do great, but not to worry about the score. It’s just one test, and he can always take it again.

About the author

About the author

Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.