Wondering what to really expect on SAT day?
Recently, I decided to go take the new SAT with all of the stressed-out high schoolers. Yup. That’s how crazy we SAT tutors get!
So, what was it like? Here are some helpful tips for you from inside the classroom on SAT test day.
Taking the SAT involves patience, listening, and waiting.
There’s nothing else quite like shuffling into a classroom with hundreds of sleepy high schoolers.
Add in a teacher who is required to share endless series of general directions about filling out and bubbling in all of kinds of information.
It’s as much of a test of patience as critical thinking. And probably a nightmare for anyone with ADHD. It’s like waiting in a long line at your favorite theme park in a hard plastic chair without the final thrills of a roller coaster ride.
Actually, it was like a roller coaster ride, without anyone taking selfies to prove it, because at least in our classroom, all of the smart phones had been confiscated, turned off, and sealed in baggies.
So, be ready to sit still for LONG periods of time, listen carefully, and practice lots of patience, in addition to doing this next important thing.
Restroom first, classroom second.
Ok, so unless you have a bladder of steel, just make a quick pit stop at the nearest restroom before you find way to your assigned room. Because once you get into your testing room, you are probably not getting an official bathroom break until after the first one or two sections of the SAT, which could be up to two l-o-n-g hours.
Now you can go during your testing time if you absolutely need to, but they won’t stop the clock for you, so it makes more sense to use that precious time on actually answering and reviewing those tricky test questions.
So, drain the bladder and then head on over to your designated classroom with all of these helpful items.
Bring tissues, sanitizer, snacks, a watch, calculator, and some #2’s.
One thing you will most likely find in your classroom is germs.
Oh. My. Goodness. So many germs!
I have no idea how many seasonal allergies and colds and whatever else was making almost everyone in the room cough and sneeze for the first hour, but it was worse than a doctor’s office waiting room during a flu epidemic.
And I was right there with them, sneezing away, thanks to my lovely springtime pollen allergy. It seemed to get a little better once everyone actually started taking the first test section, but I was pretty sure that we all might end up leaving with more than just a future test score.
So pack some tissues and hand sanitizer.
And snacks. The SAT is actually a marathon but when you get hungry and thirsty, you won’t have time to run around searching for a vending machine during break time.
Nope, this race is an exercise of your mind.
Keep the snacks simple. Think like a squirrel. Water and nuts. Or kombucha and kale chips for the hipster squirrels. Probably not the time for a foot-long Cuban from Subway or a thermos full of your mom’s famous Chili.
Because again, not many bathroom breaks.
If making friends at the SAT is also on your to do list, you can bring some extra snacks to share with other less-prepared peeps during your short breaks.
Since the only working clock will probably be in the back of the room, the watch will help you keep an eye on the time. Just don’t bring a smart one, ‘cause they know too much and will be confiscated.
Make sure your calculator is charged and you actually know what most of the buttons do.
Now, about the pencils. Believe it or not, they really do need to say #2 on them. In this crazy time of high-tech everything, one would think that the SAT scanning machines could recognize all kinds of marks, or maybe even just read all of your answers from a quick brain scan on the way out.
And bring a few of them because you will be writing and bubbling in until your hand cramps, and those old-fashioned pencil points get dull pretty quick.
Wondering what not to bring?
Just say NO to mechanical pencils or smart devices.
I’m not sure why this one bugged me so much, but I just really imagined taking the new SAT using my fancy mechanical pencils. Honestly, I used to be happy with my #2 until someone gave me this magical Twist Ease one. Immediately hooked, I bought some more and hid all of my old ones.
You should buy them, but don’t bring them to the test.
What else should you not bring to the SAT test classroom?
Pretty much anything smart, except yourself.
SEALED BAGGIES, PEOPLE!
And phones and smart devices are only to be picked up at the very end of testing day. Apparently, you can’t even touch the bag during the test, so work out any technological co-dependency issues beforehand.
Thinking about following the Golden Rule or “Sharing is Caring” by bringing extra supplies to pass out to everyone who just dragged it out of bed without bringing anything?
Not going to happen.
That creates way too much possibility for cheating, so there will be no sharing calculators or anything else during the test.
“Prepare thyself” is definitely the motto for the SAT test.
Ok, want another SAT test day secret?
Nervous people are REALLY quiet.
Wandering around in the early morning looking for the test sign-in location, I did feel like I had stepped into a scene from The Quiet Place, or that one time on The Office.
Everyone was that eerily quiet.
Even walking to the designated classroom and then sitting around while everyone else trickled in, I heard nothing (other than the sneezing). No one talked, asked any questions, or really even smiled. It felt more like a funeral than a chance to dance into your future by securing a spot at that perfect university and grab that sweet scholarship.
Because almost everyone was really nervous.
And nervous people don’t chitchat. How do I know? Because I used to be nervous throughout most of my school years. Often for no good reason at all. But I know the symptoms: look down, don’t make eye contact, don’t speak, and definitely don’t smile.
Which is exactly what most of the students were doing.
I know a few were just “I’m not a morning person, so don’t expect me to respond until after 10 am” peeps, which is another thing I am pretty familiar with as a late night tutor and natural night owl.
A little small talk broke out during the first break as everyone rushed to the restroom, and then stood around eating snacks or envying the people who brought snacks (bring snackage, people).
But all-in-all, there was not much talking and a whole lot of nervousness throughout the entire testing process, which brings me to my final secret about SAT test day.
Having a plan really does take the stress away.
For real, everyone. Practicing the new SAT tests with bonafide strategies that work is a GAME CHANGER. It removes the uncertainty of how to use your time wisely and immediately puts you on the offensive, in a good way.
Instead of stressing about what to do when you reach those impossible math problems or that put-you-to-sleep reading passage, you will know exactly what to do. And why is that?
Because you, my friend, have a plan.
And you don’t just have to take my word on this. After taking this SAT test (and freeing my phone from its evil Ziplock), I personally texted all of my students that had been mastering these unique test-taking strategies with me, and they all said the same thing. Things like,
“I knew what to do, so my stomach did not bother me this time.”
“It was pretty hard, but I feel confident because I used all my strategies.”
Even though my college entrance was not up in the air, using these SAT strategies made taking this test again WAY easier than any test I have ever taken before (and as a certified teacher with continuing education credits, I have taken my fair share of tests).
Pretty sure you or someone you know need to learn these SAT strategies? Contact me to find out more.
Because nobody needs an ulcer from the SAT!