With just one week left until your ACT or SAT test date, it can be easy to succumb to anxiety and self-doubt. The good news is that there are some steps you can take to battle these emotions and ensure optimal performance on exam day.
Remember, for instance, not to learn any new content in your final week. Instead, focus on completing the following checklist:
- Ensure you are comfortable with all exam instructions.
- Verify that your calculator is acceptable and functional.
- Review basic math skills.
- Complete at least one more practice exam.
- Review problem areas from past practice exams.
- Choose your test day outfit.
- Relax and rest.
Ensure You Are Comfortable With All Exam Instructions
On test day, it is ill-advised to spend much time reading directions. Timing is often an issue on the ACT and SAT, so it is best to familiarize yourself with all exam instructions before you sit for the real deal. The instructions will not unexpectedly change, so it is perfectly acceptable to review them beforehand and to then skip over them on test day.
Verify That Your Calculator Is Acceptable and Functional
Not all calculators are approved for use on the ACT and SAT. First, verify in advance that your calculator will be permissible on test day. ACT test-takers can find out here while those taking the SAT can find out here. Once you verify that your calculator is acceptable, turn it on and test it to ensure that all buttons and functions work properly. It is also wise to replace the batteries to prevent a mishap on exam day.
Review Basic Math Skills
Your calculator can be an asset. It allows you to double-check your answers and save time on more difficult questions. However, it can also waste precious time and lead to careless mistakes when overused. A wise preparation strategy is to review elementary, middle and high school math content. Dedicate time to refreshing your basic math skills in the final week before test day. Multiplication tables, fractions, square roots and exponents should be at the top of your priority list.
Complete at Least One More Practice Exam
In the week before your test date, take at least one more full-length practice exam under genuine testing conditions. At this point, it is indispensable that you physically train yourself to excel in the ACT or SAT testing environment. You must acclimate to the length and pacing of the exam, including the frequency of water and bathroom breaks. The only hurdle that should stand between you and a great score is the test’s content – not its format or length.
Review Problem Areas From Past Practice Exams
One of the most efficient uses of your time in the week before the ACT or SAT is revisiting your past practice tests. Make sure you understand precisely where and why you lost points. Note that you should have already diagnosed your weaknesses and addressed them during your test prep. In the final week, review any outstanding problem areas that can still be reasonably corrected. Give special attention to reviewing wrong answers on the very last practice exam you completed.
Choose Your Test Day Outfit
During the actual test, one of the most important factors is your physical comfort. If you know the exam content but feel too hot or too cold, that discomfort could negatively affect your performance. To avoid such a situation, dress in removable layers on test day and choose your outfit early. By deciding on an outfit preemptively, you save yourself the stress of picking out an ensemble the morning of the test or, even worse, realizing that what you want to wear is dirty.
Relax and Rest
As you near the end of your test prep endeavors, physical factors become more important than academic ones. Adequate rest and relaxation are likely the single most important factor in the days leading up to your exam. To perform at your absolute best, you must be calm and well-rested. Aim to sleep at least eight uninterrupted hours the entire week before test day. Finally, make your last review session as brief and stress-free as possible.
There is much to be done in the final week before taking the ACT or SAT. Taking advantage of these seven tips can boost your confidence and preparedness.