Help. I’m Stressing Out About the SAT.

Taking the SAT could be a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on to hear how to stay calm and focused during the SAT, so your months of studying with Bolt can truly pay off.

Chances are you’re stressing out about one (or two, or three!) of the following areas, so let’s break it down.

Some Things to Remember Before the SAT

  • First of all, give yourself a huge round of applause (👏👏👏) for getting this far. If you’re nearing test day, you have a lot to be proud of already, and things are only going to get better from here.
  • Most of the time when we’re anxious about something, it’s because we lead ourselves to think that the potential “danger” or fear is way bigger and real than what it actually is. So it’s probably annoying to hear this, but it’s important to put things into perspective. There are many other aspects of your college application than your SAT, so don’t think your score on one particular test day is going to determine your entire future, from where you’ll live and work to how many kids you’re going to have. It’s just not realistic.
  • Tests aren’t everyone’s strong suit, and your college knows this. It’s important to give it your best shot, but remember, there are other areas to shine in as well!

Staying Calm During the SAT

  • Remember, it’s super easy to get distracted during the SAT if you’re not staying focused on the task at hand, which is performing your best. Looking around the room to see where everyone else is up to on the test definitely isn’t going to help, and neither is trying to figure out why that boy two rows over looks super familiar. Plus, you don’t want to get accused of cheating.
    • Personally, it’s really helpful to imagine myself in a little “bubble” when I’m doing something super important, like during the SAT or a job interview. I try and ignore the distractions around me, and create my own world in which I’m solely dedicated to the activity at hand. It makes things way easier, and you get to focus 100% of your attention on what’s important.
  • Everyone has their own little calming techniques, so try and think before test day what you’re going to do if you feel yourself getting anxious during the test.
    • This may seem super cheesy, but taking deep breaths actually helps — not only does it give you something calming to focus on, but it also lowers your heart beat (which, let’s be honest, is probably racing) and provides more oxygen to your brain (i.e., a good thing).
    • Making sure you’re prepared for the test is definitely going to relieve some of the anxiety you may be having. It may be helpful to print out this checklist of things you need for the SAT, just so you can be safe. Also, plan in advance how you’re going to get to the test center, and make sure to leave enough extra time just in case some crazy unexpected traffic happens.
    • Wear clothes you know you’re going to be comfortable in. It’s just one last thing to not have to worry about during the test.
    • Try taking 20 seconds to get up and stretch (really, like all the way) during the test, which is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed. You may also consider taking a two minute break outside the classroom just to calm your nerves, but only if you feel you have enough time.
    • Again, you probably know for yourself what sort of calming techniques work best for you already, so think about them in advance!

After the Test

  • CONGRATS!! You did it 🎉. Be proud, seriously.
  • After the test, everyone likes to crowd around and share answers with each other. While it’s definitely tempting to take part in, it’s also technically illegal according to the College Board. It’s best to avoid doing this because it generally only adds more stress about how you did, plus it’s too late to change your answers now, anyway. How about you take some time to treat yourself instead?
  • Find out when your SAT score results will be posted online, so you don’t sit there every day desperately refreshing the page waiting for your score.
  • If you’re planning to take the SAT again, which is totally cool to do, give yourself a few days of rest from SAT studying — you deserve it.

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