SAT Tip: Five Things to Avoid on Test Day

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This tip on improving your SAT score was provided by Vivian Kerr at Veritas Prep.

Most of these are common sense, but AVOID these five things on Test Day to make sure all your hard work and studying pay off. Don’t let any of these silly mistakes ruin your SAT test prep and hurt your college admissions progress.

DON’T cram the night before. The SAT is not a test you can successfully cram for—taking the test exhausted is a surefire way to wind up with a bad score. Make sure you are sleeping regularly at least six hours a night in the weeks leading up to your test day; create an SAT test prep schedule and stick to it. This “cram” method never works, so don’t try it with college applications either.

DON’T be late. If your SAT test center is somewhere other than at your school, make sure you know exactly where it is and the fastest way to get there. Aim to arrive at least half an hour early to play it safe. If you have trouble getting up in the morning, make sure to set two alarm clocks. It may sound silly, but this is part of your SAT test prep. The SAT test maintains a tight schedule, with allotted breaks. The monitor will not wait for you if you are late. If you go to the bathroom, make sure to return quickly. Don’t use your cell phone during the break or wander off too far from the test center. If you are late, the time will come out of your allotted time for the next SAT section.

DON’T forget to bring extra batteries and pencils. It would be terrible if your calculator suddenly stopped working in the middle of SAT test day or if the proctor ran out of sharpened pencils. Bring batteries and pencils just in case.

DON’T be a messy bubbler. Bubble in your choices fully and darkly, so that there is never any confusion about which choice is intended. But don’t spend more than 5 seconds on each bubble—that’s just a waste of time. If you need to erase and change an SAT answer, always erase neatly and as completely as possible. The pencil must be used for all sections of the official SAT. The answer sheet will not be able to read your answers if you bubble them in pen. Always use No. 2 pencils when you study with SAT practice questions so you get into the habit of using them.

DON’T attempt to cheat. College admissions officers are looking for candidates with the best SAT scores, of course, but they are also looking for students with character and integrity. There is no guarantee that on test day the person you are cheating off of knows the correct answers. The best schools regularly accept students who have slightly lower standardized test scores but who are exceptional in other ways. Don’t let SAT test pressure persuade you that cheating is a good idea.

So what SHOULD you do on Test Day? Relax, trust your hard work, and go for it.

To make certain you are ready for test day, take a full-length SAT practice test to sharpen your skills.