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Important Info for SAT Prep- Before, During & After

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Before Test Day:

  • Don’t study the day/night before - rest the day before the big game

  • Be physically active so you can get a good night’s sleep the day before the test - no medication to sleep

  • Eat well to give your body energy - avoid excess sugar, caffeine, be well-nourished

Test Day:

  • Doors open at 7:45 am for all testing centers. You will not be admitted after 8 am so plan on being early!

  • If you are not taking the essay portion, the test will end around 12 pm. If you are taking the essay portion, the test will end around 1 pm.

  • If possible, get 10-15 minutes of exercise before the test - to clear your brain and calm your nerves

  • Read and do a few simple math problems while eating breakfast to "stretch" mentally

  • For the Reading Test, start with your strength (Lit, SS, or Sci) and ANNOTATE

  • Give yourself a 30-45 second mental break after the 3rd or 4th reading passage to reset and refocus

  • Don't talk about the tests during your breaks - enjoy your 10-minute breaks if you can

  • For all tests, mark those questions where you are uncertain of the answer; if you have time, you can then go back and review

  • Breathe!!


  • Use a calculator with which you are familiar working - muscle memory helps

  • Charge your calculator to 100% or put fresh batteries in the night before or bring batteries with you

  • The calculator should have an entry line so you can see entered data

  • Ti-83;84 and 89 or Casio Fx 300 ms work well

Other Items:

  • Check your test center on your admission ticket - make sure you are going to the right place

  • Photo id - (If using a school ID, it must be from the current school year.)

  • Two pencils

  • A watch

  • Drink and snack


  • What should I expect on my test scores? – Take a look at your practice test scores to set expectations. Review your average scores! You should expect your score to be in the range of your practice test scores unless there is an unforeseen issue so relax!

  • What is the Question and Answer Service? – You can order this service through your College Board account if you have taken the March, May or October test. For an extra fee your will receive a copy of the SAT questions and a report showing your answers from the specific test administration; the correct answers and additional scoring instructions; information about the type and difficulty of test questions. You should order this report if you anticipate retaking the test.

  • When should I expect my scores to come in and how will I receive them? – College Board will notify you when releasing scores. You should expect notification within 10 to 14 days of taking the test. If you are taking the optional SAT essay, your scores will come out a bit later.

  • What if my scores went down from my practice test, PSAT, or other SAT scores? – Ok, not the best time to discuss but the College Board indicates that 45% of students' second scores stagnate or drop slightly. If a student’s scores decrease the average is 15 points in writing, 4 points in reading, and math scores tend to stay static, or a small decrease of 4 points on average.

  • Possibility #1 - The higher the initial test score, the more likely it is the student’s subsequent score would drop. The first thing to consider is if possibly the student did better than expected the first time, and the lower score is a correction.

  • Possibility #2 - Review your study habits. The average student needs to study and practice 40 hours to change scores 70 - 130 points.

  • Possibility #3 - It is possible you had bad luck – for example, your guesses did not break your way, or you ran out of time this go around. Running out of time can easily happen if you hit a particularly tricky reading passage and a few tough math questions. Even small score changes – 4-5 questions can have a significant effect on your final composite

  • Possibility #4 - Were there problems at the test center? Not getting the proper amount of time on a few sections or dealing with noise or an uncomfortable temperature can affect your score

  • Possibility #5 Personal reasons? Perhaps you had difficulty sleeping the night before or were not feeling well that day.

After scores arrive what are my next steps? – If we can assist in next steps so that your student keeps marching towards their goal score for target admission and merit scholarship probabilities, schedule a no-obligation chat with us today.

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