SAT/ ACT and Anxiety

Congrats!  You are surviving your years in high school, and now it’s time to get serious about college. That’s right, It’s time to start test prep as the SATs/ACTs are coming. There’s no doubt these tests can be intimidating, but they don’t have to cause a panic attack. These simple practices can ease your test anxiety and help you ace that test!

One of the most important things a student can do to ensure that they are prepared for the big day is to check out what tools are allowed to be use on the test. Both the SAT and ACT websites provide information on what can and cannot be brought into the test room. Both of these sites provide test prep materials which give a glimpse into what kind of questions are going to be on the test and will allow you to feel more prepared.

How disappointing would it be to be turned away from testing simply because you forgot your photo ID!? Permitted items can range from simple items like that to a much more detailed list of requirements. Be sure to check those resources well before test day and familiarize yourself with the approved tools.

Something many students don’t consider is that the room will be cold. This may seem trivial, but it can definitely impact your ability to concentrate. Think about it; if you’re in a cool room wearing summer clothes, you are likely to have nagging thoughts about how uncomfortable you are, instead of concentrating on the question you’re supposed to be (quickly) solving. Make sure to bring a sweater or jacket on the day of the test to ensure you are able to focus.


These tests are timed, and there is no better way to prepare for that than to follow those same timing requirements when you practice. You might be taking an English based test with 45 minutes to complete it, and 50 questions to answer. That tells you that you have less than a minute to complete each question! Teach yourself to pick up on keywords in each question so that you are not using up too much time reading word for word.  Taking a SAT or ACT test prep class can help you understand how the timing will work.  There are lots of amazing Test Prep Companies but one of my favorite free Test Prep options is Khan Academy  Being Prepared will go a long way in preventing test anxiety

A college admissions coach can certainly help you navigate not only the timing aspect of test-taking but how to determine your strengths and weaknesses in each (the SAT vs. the ACT). Smart, consistent coaching will help you unlock your full potential and get the best score possible.



Built up anxiety leading up to these tests is completely normal. However, there are many simple tricks you can use to keep your anxious thoughts and feelings at bay.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, remember to fuel your body with oxygen by taking deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose, filling your upper lungs, and exhale through your mouth while pursing your lips. During stress, our breathing rates and patterns change, and there are many breathing exercises proven to relax an anxious body.

Yoga and meditation are also very effective and easy to do at home. There are plenty of free apps and resources online that can walk you through some simple moves or meditation sessions.

Many students put a substantial amount of pressure on themselves as they prepare for the SATs/ACTs. While these tests are important, a cloud of anxiety constantly looming over you will certainly affect how you perform, and not in a good way. The more prepared and at ease you are, the more your concentration and confidence will improve!


The classic expression “get a good night’s rest” doesn’t always cut it. This advice isn’t wrong, but you don’t want to shock your body with a morning routine that it isn’t used to the day of the test.

Create a new routine 10 days (at a minimum) before the test. Start with setting a sleep schedule as if tomorrow were your test day. Getting enough sleep has been proven to increase concentration and memory, as well as mood and energy levels. Committing to this schedule prior to test day will allow your body the time it needs to ease into the swing of things.This goes for breakfast as well. If you have cereal every day for breakfast, don’t suddenly have eggs and bacon the morning of the test. You’re asking for a stomach ache, you’ve got enough nerves as is! Create a plan of meals that are similar in ingredients and try to eat each at about the same time of day. Remember the worse thing you can do is wait until the night before to start your test prep, you can not cram for these test and it’s going to send you into an emotional tail spin.  Start test prep early and implement the things we have talked about and you will do well on the test.