What Not to Do on the Day of a Standardized Test

Standardized Test Day No-Nos

It's the day of the test! You're ready for it, right? Not if you're planning to do any of the following. Whether you're taking the SAT or the ACT to get into undergrad, or the LSAT, GRE, or MCAT to get into graduate school, there are just a few things that are on the "Do Not Do" list for test day. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Read on for the fifteen things not to do the day of the test.

of 08

Study For the First Time

Student studying in library
Cultura/Luc Beziat/Riser/Getty Images

The day of the test is NOT, and I repeat not the time to pull out the ol' SAT test prep book or ACT iPad app and start hammering away. You had time to do that the past few months. It's not going to do you any good today. At the most, you'll scare yourself into a panic if you haven't prepared. Standardized tests like the GRE, LSAT, and yes, those college entrance exams, are mostly reasoning tests. Studying content will only get you so far. You won't be able to master the strategies necessary for the test in just a day. It's better to go in blind than panicked.

of 08

Roll Out Of Bed 30 Minutes Before the Test

Late waking up
Getty Images | John Lamb

Listen. If the registration instructions tell you to be at the testing center at 8:00, that doesn't mean that 8:00 is when you show up. Nope. There will be parking issues, especially if you're taking a test like the LSAT, ACT, or SAT where there are just a few test dates throughout the year. The lines will be long. The halls will be crowded. And that's just the logistics of getting into the building. It will take you time to find your room, use the restroom, and get a drink of water before you begin. Plan on arriving at least 30 to 45 minutes prior to your testing time so you're not left standing at the door at 8:05, wondering why the nice lady behind the glass isn't letting you in.

of 08

Wear Uncomfortable Clothes

Getty Images | Leonard McLane

Sure, you want to look snazzy every second of the day, but the SAT exam does not warrant your favorite daisy dukes and sequined tube top. First, you don't want the existence of your muffin top bothering you throughout the exam – you have better things to think about. Second, you may get chilly in the testing room. You're not guaranteed absolutely perfect testing conditions, and if you're thinking about how loudly your teeth are chattering, then you're not focused on what's important – how to pass the Critical Reasoning sections.

of 08

Wear Clothes That Are Too Comfortable

Sleeping at computer
Getty Images | Robert Daly

Likewise, you don't want to be too cozy during your test, either. If you're wearing your jammies or clothes you normally wear when you're completely vegging out, then chances are good you'll feel a little bit sleepy during the test because of the association. Sleepy does not equal a good test score.

Wear comfortable clothing to the test center like worn-in jeans and a t-shirt with a sweatshirt to throw on in case the air conditioning is cranking.

of 08

Skip Breakfast

Empty plate
Getty Images | Scott Eveleigh

Your tummy may be doing a nose-dive thinking about those LSAT Analytical Reasoning questions, but skipping breakfast is only going to mess up your blood sugar even more. It's science. Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, states that people who eat breakfast, "are more productive at work, have better problem-solving skills, and increased mental clarity." And mental clarity is a huge must on the day of the test!

of 08

Eat Garbage for Breakfast

Getty Images | Lew Robertson

Okay, so not actual garbage, but if you down a Red Bull and a bag of corn chips for breakfast, you're not doing yourself any favors, either. Sure, it's probably better to have something in your tummy versus nothing, but a huge surge of caffeine may actually hurt your performance on your test if you're too jittery. If caffeine is a must, stick to one small cup of coffee or tea. Skip the added sugar. And instead of the highly processed, greasy chips, opt for some brain food like eggs or blueberries to maximize your mental processes.

of 08

Take up running/P90X/Xtreme downhill skiing

Yes, exercise is a huge stress-reliever, but taking up a rigorous new sport right before your test in an effort to reduce the panic welling up inside your body is not the best option. If you've never been running before, then you could injure yourself or get an upset stomach on even a short run. If you've never done plyometrics before, then you could be nursing a torn ligament at the after-hours clinic instead of answering question 17 correctly on your PSAT test. If you need to relieve some stress, then do an activity you've done before. Go for a walk. Run if you're a runner. Do your P90X if you've been doing it for a while. But for heaven's sake, don't hit up the black diamond if you're a bunny hill kind of person. Save that for the next day.

of 08

More Things NOT To Do The Day Of The Test

Taking Test
Digital Vision

Here's the rest of the list, in all its glory. Some of these will surprise you!

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "What Not to Do on the Day of a Standardized Test." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/things-not-to-do-the-day-of-test-3212078. Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 26). What Not to Do on the Day of a Standardized Test. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/things-not-to-do-the-day-of-test-3212078 Roell, Kelly. "What Not to Do on the Day of a Standardized Test." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/things-not-to-do-the-day-of-test-3212078 (accessed March 20, 2023).

Watch Now: Difference Between the SAT and ACT