Managing Test Anxiety on the Digital SAT

Like with other major performances—such as ones in music, athletics, or theater—it is natural to have some anxiety. While some anxiety may release adrenaline that helps sharpen your focus and improves your stamina, too much anxiety can be problematic. Here are some tips to help keep your anxiety under control:

Make Your Practice as Realistic as Possible

Take a full-length practice test under timed conditions with the usual breaks. Become familiar with the testing app on your computer or tablet so there are no surprises on test day. Eat the same food and have the same drink you will have during your break. See how your body and your mind perform under realistic conditions, and then make any needed adjustments. By practicing like this before the actual test, you will both consciously and subconsciously know what to expect.

Realize That SAT Results Are but One Part of a College Application

While test results are perhaps the easiest part of the application to quantify, they are one component in a holistic admissions process. If the other parts of your application are quite strong, the test results will be less important. If you have not done as well in school or have not had as many extracurricular opportunities, the SAT can give you an opportunity to showcase your college readiness.

Start Early with Your Testing

Plan on taking the SAT after you have completed Algebra 2 so you have nearly all the math the test requires. If you take the test early, you will not feel like your entire college application is riding on your performance on a single day; instead, you will know that you will have multiple opportunities to retake the exam. Colleges routinely look at your best performance, and if your early performance is not all that great, it should not be an issue.

You Will Likely Be Able to Superscore

More and more schools allow “superscoring,” i.e., taking the best score from each of the two test sections over multiple test dates. For example, if you scored a 700 on the Reading and Writing and a 500 on the Math on a test in March, and then scored a 600 on the Reading and Writing and a 700 on the Math on a test in May, your superscore would be 700 + 700 = 1,400. So, if one half of the test does not go as well, it is ok—you can focus on the more challenging half on the next test date.

Preparing for the Test

Use previous test results to help you target your preparation. Even if the results were from a paper-based test, they will align with the Digital SAT and will help you plan your preparation. If you have previously taken the PSAT or SAT, check out your scores on the College Board website.

If you have not previously taken the PSAT or SAT, take a Diagnostic Test to help you determine the areas that you most need to review. Practice full-length tests under timed conditions to develop your problem-solving skills and learn to manage your timing. 


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