We’re in the thick of exam season and juniors everywhere are feeling anxious about taking it. It doesn’t matter how well-prepared students are for the test – there’s no mercy when it comes to feelings of apprehension and cases of the jitters.

If your teen is gearing up to take it, by now they should have at least an idea of what’s on the test and have taken a practice exam or two to become a little more familiar with the format of it.

Knowing how to prepare and and what to expect will help greatly on test day, too. Here are some tips to keep in mind for the upcoming exam:

The Week Before

  • 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.
  • 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 them lose their seat! Consider driving with your teen to the facility now to ease any tension they might feel the morning of the test.


The Day Before

  • Let your teen take it easy today by doing something fun and relaxing.


  • It may seem like a good idea to have your kid crack open the 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!”

Make sure all of the documents and materials needed are 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 their 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 also rules about which calculators students can use. Make sure it’s the right kind, or they’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 it’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 they’re important for maintaining energy.

  • An early bedtime is best. A tired exam-taker absolutely won’t perform in peak condition.

Check out the College Board website for a full list of do’s and dont’s for what to bring on test day.

Test Day

  • Eating a healthy breakfast is so important today because your teenager needs to maintain energy throughout this 3 1/2-hour exam. Drinking water (not juice – sugar crash!) for hydration is important.


  • I know a lot of teens like coffee – I do too. And it’s definitely fine to have that. But I also like to offer 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 leading up to them.
  • Tell your teen to set a reminder on their calendar about score release day. You can check out the College Board’s Score Release Schedule for the exact information on when your teen can expect their scores.
  • Decide whether or not your teen will be taking the SAT exam again. I almost always recommend taking at least two exams. May 8 is the deadline for registering for the last SAT of the school year, held on June 6. The next exam won’t happen again until October.

Wishing your student the best on the test!

Let’s continue the discussion! Thoughts on this post? Please leave a comment below!

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