Avoid These ACT/SAT Exam Day Mistakes

Flickr user Chris Costes

Flickr user Chris Costes

When it comes to taking either the ACT or the SAT (or both), you should take advantage of every kind of preparation. Studying, taking practice tests, and attending review sessions are a few excellent ways to prepare, but there are other, subtler things that can also help—especially when it comes to the big day itself.

So here are a few exam day errors to avoid!  Keep these tips in mind before heading into the testing room.


You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but cramming doesn’t really help you in the long run—in fact, it can hinder you. The stress you put on your mind will actually keep it from absorbing the information you need to know. So instead of pulling an all-nighter and furiously memorizing flashcard definitions or mathematical formulas, spread out your study sessions over the course of several weeks (or months!) ahead of time.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Speaking of all-nighters: don’t do them. You’re going to need your energy on testing day, and it’s hard to focus on the exam if you’re yawning all the way through it. Don’t rely on a coffee or energy drink the next day either. Do yourself a favor and go to bed early and have a real good night’s rest.

Unhealthy Foods

What do foods have to do with ACT/SAT testing, you may ask. Well, the better you eat, the better you feel, the better you can focus on your test. It’s a chain reaction that can lift your spirits as well as your attention and ultimately your grades. So rather than having a bowl of cereal that’s more sugar than anything, grab a banana and load up on some energy-boosting potassium that will keep you engaged.

Late Arrival

Plan ahead. Wake up early, make sure you have everything you need, and get to the testing place with plenty of time to spare. Scrambling around at the last minute will not only leave you stressed out before the test even begins, but you might be penalized if you’re late—they could even bar you from taking the test at all!

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