It’s Almost Test Day—What Should I Do?
You’re approaching the day of your test, and it’s time to take care of those last-minute preparations. We’re here to help you feel entirely prepared for the day you show the world what you can do!
We know there are at least a hundred things on your mind right now. We also know that a little thoughtful preparation can help you organize those thoughts to your advantage. We’ve even included a checklist at the end so you can reassure yourself that you’ve covered everything and are super ready to “show what you know” on your test day.
We think that having this information and a list to check off will do a lot to calm you, but if you tend to be anxiety prone, check out our tips for easing those nerves.
Refresh Your Memory about Test Day
It’s probably been more than a minute since you first decided to take this test, which means it’s also been a while since you read the test day information. Now is the time to go back and reread all the information you have about your test and the test day experience.
You’ll want to particularly note information about things you need to take to the test center and things that are forbidden inside the center.
There are several ways to find this information:
- If you’ve kept any of the info you got from the test center or testing company, that’s a great source.
- We can help with another way to access all the details: find your test’s home page on our site, which contains important test day guidelines.
- You can also do an online search specifically for “test day” along with the name of your test.
You’ll be able to use this information as you go through the rest of these preparation steps, so keep it handy.
Plan and Prepare: Items to Take (and Not Take)
Take time to reread the list of things you need to take to the test center. This should be in any test day information. Here are some really important things to look for on this list:
- admission ticket (Is one required?)
- identification (How many IDs are needed and what types are accepted?)
- writing utensils (Do you need to bring your own pens or pencils, or are they provided or not necessary?)
- technology (What is required and what is allowed in terms of calculators and other technology?)
Plan and Prepare: For Comfort
Being physically uncomfortable can do a number on brain flow. If you’re distracted by dripping sweat or shivering, you can’t do your best on the test.
First, consult the weather forecast for the test day, both the night before and first thing in the morning on the test day. Can you find out anything about temperature/humidity conditions inside the test center? You might be able to check with friends who have tested there. If you don’t have that information, plan to dress in layers to cover all possibilities. Even on a very hot summer day, temps can verge on the frigid level inside air-conditioned buildings. On the other hand, blown heat can make conditions stifling even on a very cold winter day.
Note: Be sure you know the procedure for taking outer wraps into the testing room and whether you will have access to them if you have to leave them in a locker or in your car.
Plan and Prepare: For a Great Start to Your Day
It’s impossible to predict and avoid all unforeseen events or circumstances, but why not take steps to ensure the fewest possible mishaps during your testing experience? Here are some things to consider in the days before your test.
No test is going to happen for you if you’re not there to take it. Being even a little late can disqualify you from taking most tests, in which case you will lose any money you have paid. It’s best to have a plan in place to ensure you aren’t late or don’t miss the test altogether.
Be sure you have an infallible method of waking up, especially if your test is in the morning. Have more than one wake-up call—maybe two alarms or one alarm and a reliable person to make sure you’re up. If you only use alarms, be sure you cannot hit “snooze” while you are still in bed. Put at least one of the devices across the room, so you have to actually get up.
Be sure your transportation plans are firm. It’s also a good idea to have a contingency plan. People do get sick and vehicles can have sudden maladies, so ask yourself:
- How will I get to the testing center?
- How will I get back home from the test?
- What are alternative transportation methods if something goes wrong?
Be sure all vehicles and people involved are in place and ready to go. (Do these people have alarm clocks too?)
Staging Your Stuff
You may be one of those people who function very well at the crack of dawn, but having everything ready to go can lower your stress level on the day of the test. You can start setting up a place for all the things you’ll need to take to the test in the days before; at the very least, be sure it’s prepared the night before.
- Items to take: Refer to the information about this above.
- Clothes to wear: This may sound like a kindergarten thing to do, but it won’t be pleasant to find that you don’t have any clean shirts or pants the day of the test, or that a zipper is broken. Find and inspect what you plan to wear to the test, and lay it out.
How your body is treated on the days before a test and on the day of a test can really make a difference. If you normally eat well, you should be fine. Just know that now is not the time to give in to your worst eating habits. Here are some suggestions to have your body—and by extension, your brain—in top working form on test day.
What Should Be in My Plan?
Planning what to eat on both the test day and the day before will help your body function at its best during the test. Think protein plus healthy fats and carbs, not just a lot of empty calories. On both days, avoid large amounts of sugar (including alcohol). The things you consume will be the fuel that helps your brain work well and utilize all those skills you have.
A Nutrition Mini-Lesson
These are the main terms we’ll use when discussing what to eat, especially around test time.
Protein: There are lots of choices, some of which you may not have thought of before, such as hummus, nuts, lean meat, nut butter, and beans.
Carbs: Not all carbs (sugars) are created equal. The healthiest carbs include those found in fruits and vegetables. (A little bit of low-fat dip can make these yummy.)
Fats: Just like carbs, there are good fats and not-so-good fats. Choose to spend your fat allotment on the ones naturally found in things like avocado, nuts, and nut butter. Baked or broiled food is healthier, in terms of fat, than deep-fried food.
Breaking It Down by Meal
The guidelines for healthy eating of meals and snacks on the day before the test and on the day of the test are basically the same, but here’s a breakdown of pertinent points to consider:
On the Day before Your Test
The day before you take your test, plan to eat a balanced diet of lean protein and fiber-rich foods that do not contain excessive amounts of carbs and fats. Eating a lot of food late into the night before is a bad idea. Allow plenty of time for everything to digest so you can get a good night’s sleep.
On Test Day
On your test day, the food you choose will also be important. There are various factors to consider.
- Breakfast: We’re accustomed to hearing, “Eat a good breakfast,” but just what is a good breakfast? As always, go for foods high in protein (think eggs, lean breakfast meat, cheese, etc.) paired with healthy carbs (whole grain bread or toast) and healthy fat (avocados or nuts).
If you’re not a big breakfast eater or are someone who generally opts for just a bowl of cereal, you may want to alter that plan for this day. Cereal, even with milk, provides a lot of carbs and very little protein. You can still go light and have something like cheese melted on toast. And if you must have a muffin, make it a whole grain one with fiber and pair it with an egg or two, nuts or nut butter, or cheese for protein. (If your stomach is sensitive to change, be sure to try out these options a few days before your test.)
- Snacks: First of all, analyze your testing schedule and formulate a plan for eating during any test breaks. Be sure that any eating plans are compatible with the testing center regulations. It will do you no good to have a protein bar in your backpack if your backpack has to be left in the car. Also, be sure you can access any bag storage area during the times you are allowed to eat.
Healthy, energy-boosting snack suggestions: yogurt and fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers, nuts, a “snack pack” from the store
- Lunch: If the test spans a whole day, you will need to eat lunch. Do you need to pack one or will you be allowed to leave the testing center to go get food?
- If you pack lunch, try a whole wheat sandwich with lettuce and tomato topping off a protein (meat, cheese, etc.). Or, combine a few of the snack suggestions to fill you up.
- If you’re allowed to leave the center, scope out nearby restaurants and the time needed to travel to them before test day. You don’t want to waste eating time fighting traffic and end up being late to resume testing.
Even if your test will be over before lunch or dinner (if the test is in the afternoon), you’ll probably be starving, so be sure to have a plan for a good meal.
It’s Finally the Night Before!
You’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and it’s almost here! You can finally actually prove to the world that you know your stuff and are ready to take it on.
There are several things you can do for yourself at this point:
Don’t Study Anymore
Probably the worst thing you can do is to stay up late the night before a test trying to cram in every last bit of information. Doing so will stress you out and deprive you of the rest you will need to function the next day. If you want to take a little time earlier in the day to go over some main points or things you’ve had trouble with—just to have these things fresh in your mind—that’s fine. Just don’t still be doing that at 3 a.m.
DO Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Whatever your magical sleep-inducing routine is, now is the time to employ it. It could be soft music, a little light reading, or running a fan or white noise during the night—whatever works for you. Alcohol and sleep-inducing meds are not recommended as these can make you feel groggy (or unwell) in the morning. Also, be sure that everyone in your household is aware that you have a big day coming and knows to be considerate of your need for sleep.
Promise Yourself Something
Many people work well toward an incentive. If this sounds like you, plan for a definite “reward” once your test is complete. It can be as wide ranging as “sleeping for three days” or “buying a new whatever.” Or it could be just giving yourself a break from studying or thinking about anything related to your test for a while. Whatever works for you, go for it! It’s something to look forward to and could just be the added boost you need to achieve your testing goal with flying colors.
And One More Thing
Breathe! You’ve got this! And we’re here for you every step of the way. If you have any questions or concerns leading up to your test day, please don’t hesitate to contact us. All the best wishes in the world to you!
A Personal Checklist
Sometimes being able to actually check things off a to-do list helps calm nerves and reassures you that you are ready. Here’s a quick version of the suggestions above to use as you get ready:
☐ I know about test day procedures.
☐ I know what I must take:
- ☐ ID
- ☐ Admission ticket
- ☐ Writing utensils
- ☐ Calculator or other tech
☐ I know what I cannot take.
☐ Things to take are laid out.
☐ Clothes to wear are laid out.
☐ Arrangements are made for waking up.
☐ Arrangements are made for transportation (and an alternate plan).
☐ My night-before meal is planned and the food is obtained.
☐ My breakfast for test day is planned and the food is obtained.
☐ My snacks for test day are planned and the food is obtained.
☐ My lunch and/or dinner on test day is planned (any needed food is obtained).
☐ The evening before the test is planned (relax!).
☐ A method for a good night’s sleep is planned (the household has been told).
☐ My incentive is planned, if desired.
Have you checked them all? Well, then, you must be ready. Very best of luck! And, again, breathe!
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