Last-minute SAT and ACT prep tips

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 them take a practice walk to the testing room or walk their 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 teen to use them if their heart starts pounding or if they feel nervous.

  • Go over any accommodations your teen is receiving. If your child gets extra time, explain that they’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 they’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 they can eat only during the break.

  • Tell your teen to leave their cell phone at home. If they bring it into the testing center, they 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, they won’t be admitted.

  • Advise your teen not to second-guess any answers unless they’re concerned they made a careless error. They’re better off sticking with their first answer.

  • Put things in perspective. Tell your teen you think they’re going to do great but not to worry about the score. It’s just one test, and they can always take it again.

Check out surprising ways to boost your child’s confidence before a test. And read about helping high-schoolers cope with test anxiety.


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