This is it.  In some ways, it feels as if your entire academic career has led up to this moment.  And in other ways, it seems as though this is the gateway to your future.  Regardless, you definitely feel the weight of the occasion.  Indeed, it’s the night before you go toe-to-toe with the fabled (and perhaps dreaded) SAT/ACTs.  How should you spend this time?

To begin with, just breathe.  Despite our introduction (which might have been a tad hyperbolic), it’s critical that you realize tomorrow is not the end-all and be-all of your life, academic or otherwise.  Sure, standardized tests are an important factor in the college admissions game.  However, they are far from the only factor.  A good score does not automatically lead to a successful life just as a less than stellar score will not doom you to failure.

Secondly, put down the practice tests and test prep books.  Seriously – back away.  At this point, you’ve (hopefully) given it your all and logged a decent amount of study time.  This extra push won’t likely do much to elevate your score.  In fact, it might just help to feed your anxiety.  Instead, give your brain a break.  Kick back and relax and take pride in knowing you put in the proper effort to achieve the best score possible.

On the other hand, don’t go overboard with your relaxation.  While we’re all for social outings, this is one night where it’s probably best not to get too crazy.  We recommend staying in for the evening and making sure you get at least eight hours of sleep.  You want to wake up refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle the test.

Though this might seem a tad obvious, you should also verify that you know how to get to the test site.  You don’t want to get lost while en route.  That will only result in ratcheting up your stress level and worse, potentially make you late.  You want to arrive with time to spare so you can settle in and ready yourself mentally for the task at hand.  This is probably also a good time to remind you to set your alarm.  You’re welcome.

While technically not a tip for the night before, we also suggest making sure you eat a substantial breakfast.  It will give you the energy you’ll require to make it through the test.  And it ensures you won’t have a rumbling stomach bothering you (and the other test takers).

In the world of secondary education, the SATs and ACTs have certainly achieved a mythic status of sorts.  They definitely feel as if they are a rite of passage and a nerve wracking one at that.  As you steel yourself for the challenge ahead, it’s important to rest and relax and perhaps put things into perspective.  It’s simply one test.  You’ll do great! Just breathe.

For more great advice visit the College Resource Center at

Upcoming test dates include:

SAT – March 10th (SAT only), Register by February 10th (February 24th late registration).
SAT – May 5th (SAT and SAT Subject Tests), Register by April 6th (April 20th late registration).
ACT – February 11th, Registration is now closed.
ACT – April 14th, Register by March 9th (March 10th-23rd late registration).

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