What NOT To Do During the ACT/SAT Exam

Yellow pencil with a broken tip on a blank sheet.

Flickr user Bruce Denis

You know what to do during the ACT or SAT and you know how to prepare, but do you know what NOT to do during the exam times? Here are three examples of things you should steer clear of.

Don’t Bring Prohibited Items

There will be a list of items the SAT or ACT websites will tell you to bring (usually an approved calculator, erasers, pencils, your ID, and admission ticket). Don’t bring anything that isn’t on the approved list. Be sure you select an approved calculator especially. If you bring the wrong type, you will not be able to use it and could run into trouble on the math sections that require one. In the same vein, don’t forget any of the items you will need!

One item you should definitely leave home or in the car is your phone. If your phone goes off during the exam, you could be asked to leave and your score thrown out. It is also against the rules to look at your phone. It’s best to leave it out of reach and avoid temptation or potential mistakes if someone calls.

You should also try to avoid bringing a watch with an alarm. While you can benefit from a watch when it comes to timing yourself during the exam, you could run into trouble if the alarm goes off.

Don’t Rush But Don’t Waste Time Either

Part of preparing for the SAT or ACT is taking practice exams and ensuring you’re spending the right amount of time on each question. This is to make sure you’re finishing each section of the test on time and not missing questions because you hit the time limit. Studying the material to get the questions right is only part of the prep for these tests.

So you don’t want to spend too long on any one question (or every question). You will easily run out of time before you can finish. However, you don’t want to rush either and get questions wrong because you misunderstood the context or selected the wrong answer by accident. Time management on the ACT / SAT is incredibly important.

Don’t Leave Answers Blank

While you should skip questions if you’re spending too long on them, you should definitely not leave questions blank on purpose. There is no penalty for getting a question incorrect, even on the SAT.

If you finished a section but skipped some questions, go back to answer those questions you skipped. An educated guess may actually earn you points. If you timed yourself correctly, you’ll have time to go back, dedicate resources to those questions you skipped, and review your answers.

Preparing for the SAT or ACT before hand and reading over the rules will absolutely help you when your test date rolls around. Make sure you’re studying properly in the months and weeks leading up to the exam. On test day, leave your phone at home and be sure you have all the necessary items and paperwork to get the exam off to a good start.

Check out how your ACT / SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor