The Night Before the SAT: Advice from the College Guy

***Note to readers: Maine is one of seven (or eight, it keeps changing) States which use the SAT for their evaluastion of student progress in 11th grade. As such all juniors in these states are required to take the SAT, and the test is given in school for free. Maine's test date is April 5th, and this email was sent a couple days before.
If you live in a state which doesn't require in-school SAT testing, hold off and take the test in May or June. Keep this rant handy for the night before!
Hey Class of 2018 - all ready for the SATs this Wednesday? This  email contains my annual pep talk and some suggestions for how to conduct yourselves tomorrow night!

(Note bene: this email is intended for juniors in the great State O’ Maine who are doing mandatory in-school SAT testing on April 5th. For those of you who don’t live in Maine tuck this puppy away and read it just prior to your taking the test on May 6th or June 3rd, which is when all other college bound high school juniors should plan on taking the test).

Hopefully you've done a modicum (good SAT vocab word, that - look it up!) of prepping for the tests. Now don't panic if you haven't - I know many folks who enjoy nothing more than to tell me how they've ignored my sage advice and they scored just fine without my 'system' - but whether you have or have not prepped, listen up.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT stay up Tuesday night thinking you're gonna cram in all the prepping that you feel guilty about not having done before. Ferget it. Don't do it. Shouldn't happen.

See, think of your brain as a muscle, and while you want it to be properly "warmed up", you don't want it put in extensive overdrive just before the big event. Instead, you want just the opposite - in swimming we call it "tapering" before a big race, whereby we ease off on our workouts and downright relax just before the event.

So take it from the college guy - here's whatcha wanna do Tuesday:

Have a good day. Don't get excited.

Rent a comedy with Seth Rogen in it (or a similarly inane and light-weight laugher).

Have a good dinner and pop that DVD in and watch it, thereby clearing your brain of all things SAT-related.

Go to bed at your normal school night time (UNLESS your school night bed time is after 11:00 PM, in which case tell your folks I wanna talk to them!)

Rise and shine with plenty of time to get to school at your normal time. Eat breakfast - no backtalk about it. Make sure you check your calculator’s battery and bring pencils with good erasers on ‘em.

Bring plenty of Power Bars, or granola bars, or Cliff Bars, or whatever snacky-health-and-brain food quick energy bar you prefer. Bananas work too.

And remember, relax. This is just a test. Just a pain in the butt, horribly over-emphasized, deeply flawed (can I get an AMEN?!!!) test. You'll have another chance (two!) to retake it next fall; and some of you will take the ACT as well, which will give you another chance to score points and impress colleges. Try not to let anxiety affect your performance. 

Take a deep breath, and repeat after me: 

"I'm smart and I know it, and this test is a woefully inadequate measure of everything other than my ability to take arcane, pressurized, timed exams!" 

Go ahead, say it. 


Got it? 


Good luck!


P.S. Here’s a few things to give you a chuckle:

Gary L. Canter
College Placement Services
210 St. John Street
Portland, Maine 04102
(207) 772-9711 

College Placement Services provides high school students and their families assistance with all aspects of the college search, selection, application and financial aid process.

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