Anyone who’s preparing to go to college or has gone has probably thought about all the possible things that can go wrong during testing. I hope that this list doesn’t feed into anyone’s fears and calms some nerves. Remember, things will sometimes go wrong but far more often than not, they can be turned around.
1. Forgetting where your test is being held
If this happens, hopefully you have a little time to stop and check online or call your location and ask for clarification.
2. Dropping things during the test
Luckily there will be a proctor in the room to help you if you drop your pencil or your papers. So no need to fret. Everything will be alright. Just accept the item when it’s returned to you and keep on trucking through the test.
3. Waking up late
Everyone has had that nightmare of being late for something important and sometimes SAT mornings are where this plays out. Don’t stress out too much; this is not a fashion test and your appearance will not be judged. Find a median between your comfort and time taken to get ready and get to your testing location as quick as possible.
4. Running out of time
If you are running out of time, take a deep breath and start flipping through the booklet and look for the easiest questions that you know you can get. Most of the questions are worth equal points so getting as many done that you’re sure about is better than getting hung up on a single question or section.
5. Falling asleep during the test
We’ve all had those sleeping-during-important-things moments and sometimes these falling asleep anywhere moments spring up in the SAT sessions. When you wake up, if the test is still going on, try to reorient yourself and check your time (normally the start and stop times are written on a board in the room).
6. Forgetting pencils
The proctor should have pencils to lend out just make sure you ask as soon as you realize. If they don’t, try asking around to see if you got an overly prepared student with half an aisle’s worth of pencils. Most people realize that mistakes happen and that the SAT is not a competition between people in the room.
7. Not having a calculator or having the wrong type
This actually happened to me. I didn’t check the requirements and when they did the calculator check, I didn’t pass. The proctor told me to put my calculator under my chair and that I would have to just try the math section without a calculator. I took some deep breaths and just concentrated on the rest of the test. I just tried to think of taking my highest scores from all my SAT attempts (composite score) and that this math section would NOT kill my chances of going to college.
When I did get to the math section, I assessed my abilities and what type of questions that I could do confidently without a calculator. I then went searching through the test for those types of questions and once I got through them, I went back and tried my hands at some other questions. My main advice to you is to make the best use of your time, and since math done by hand can take longer, try to work efficiently.
8. Anxiety or nervousness
Sometimes you can’t help but worry. You worry because the SAT matters to you. But you want to try to keep calm during the test. Anxiety is great at making you read questions five times in a row and not understanding it but not for much else. I know some of you reading this may have anxiety or panic disorders and some of you may not so I’m not going to just say calm down because it isn’t that easy.
If you are anxious about the test beforehand, try doing practice tests and work with five minutes less on the clock to hopefully make yourself feel like you can do what you can and then during the real thing, you’ll have a few minutes extra. Stress balls and stones to rub can be brought to your test in your pocket. Breathing slower really helps me. Regardless of how you want to manage your anxiety, keep in mind that this is not the last chance you’ll ever have to take the test. You can always retake it.
9. You can’t afford the test
I have been in this position myself. But through some research I found that there are normally ways of getting the SAT and even ACT for free. My school provided me two waivers for each. Resources will vary but talking to your teachers and counselors is a great start. If all else fails, you could always look for universities that do not require SAT scores to be submitted.
Regardless of what happens before or during the exam, you are still the same awesome person you’ve always been. The SAT is not a decider of your worth. Keep your head up and eyes open to all the opportunities that await you outside of the SAT exam location.