It’s tough to be a high schooler, right? All of the tough classes, college entrance exams, extracurriculars…
It’s. A. Lot.
No wonder your teenager’s a hot mess.
Well, hear hear, Mom. You can help your teen overcome a little bit of stress the week leading up to the SAT exam, at least. Because that one’s a doozy.
Preparation and expectation-setting are key.
Check out these tips to help your kid get through the SAT exam a little more comfortably. (And so you stay a little more sane, too, in the process.)
The Week Before the SAT
- Practice. Have your teen take a practice SAT exam early the week prior. You can find 4 official SAT practice exams, along with information about how to prepare and strategize for the test, in the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide. You can also find these practice exams free online via the College Board website.
- Go for a drive. Know where the testing center is and take a practice drive there. Many times it’s not at the high school your teen’s familiar with, and I’ve had more than one mom let me know on Monday that they got lost on the way to the testing facility. That’ll make your kid an anxious wreck for sure, and it could also make him lose his seat! Consider driving with your teen to the facility now to ease any tension he might feel the morning of the test.
The Day Before the SAT
- Do NOT study. It may seem a good idea to have your kid crack open the SAT book for one more go at studying, but think twice about that! Cramming right before the exam can increase anxiety, and sleep can often be interrupted the night before the test by dreams of filling in bubbles and proctors yelling “time’s up!”
- Relax! Let your teen take it easy today by doing something fun and relaxing.
- Gather up gear. Make sure all of the documents and materials needed are all lined up and ready to go for the exam in a backpack. And be sure you’re following the rules here. Exam proctors are ruthless when it comes to not admitting students or confiscating things!
The things to put together include:
Admission ticket – Your child should log in to his College Board account to print this out.
Photo ID – There are rules about this. A few of my students have been turned away for not having an appropriate ID.
Calculator – There are rules about which students can use. Make sure it’s the right kind, or he’ll lose it at the door.
No. 2 pencils – Have at least two, with erasers.
Watch – Make sure there’s no alarm on it, or that’ll be taken. Sometimes students are placed in the room where they can’t see the clock, so this is very important.
Snacks and a drink – Students can consume these during breaks, and it’s important for maintaining energy.
Check out the College Board website for a full list of dos and don’ts for what to bring on test day.
- Sleep well. An early bedtime is best. A tired exam-taker absolutely won’t perform in peak condition.
SAT Test Day
- Fuel up. Eating a healthy breakfast is so important today, because your teenager needs to maintain energy with this close-to-4-hour SAT exam. Drinking water (not juice – sugar crash!) for hydration is important.
- Watch the caffeine. I know a lot of teens like coffee – I do too. And it’s definitely fine to have that. But a warning: it doesn’t help with test performance to be squirming in the seat before the next bathroom break. Just be reasonable with the amount, is all.
The Day After
- BREEEATHE. It can be an overwhelming experience getting ready for these big tests and trying to keep your teen in a low-stress state during the week.
- Mark the calendar. Tell your teen to set a reminder on the calendar about SAT score-release day. You can check out the College Board’s site for SAT score release dates.
- Consider taking it again. I know it’s likely the last thing your kid wants to think about right now, but check out why I almost always recommend taking at least two SAT exams for college admissions.
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