This is Part 2 of the What to Expect on Test Day blog series. You can read Part 1 on how you should prepare the day before test day here.
Last week, we looked at what to do the day before the ACT. We talked about how to review as effectively as possible and how to make sure you have enough energy to do your best. This week, we’ll talk about what you can actually expect on test day: how registration works, where you’ll be seated, and what the general atmosphere in the room will be like.
A week ago, I stressed the importance of waking up early enough on test day to give yourself plenty of time to arrive to the test center on time. Make sure you check your admissions ticket to see what time you need to arrive at the test center. Bring your printed ticket as well as photo identification—the requirements for valid ID are written on your admissions ticket. If you do not have valid identification, you will not be allowed to take the test. When you arrive at the testing center, you’ll see well-marked signs telling you where to go to check in. If you have your ID and ticket, registration should take less than a minute.
Pro Tip: Bring a valid ID. If you do not have this upon entering the testing center, you will not be allowed to take the test.
In most cases, you’ll be testing in a large room such as a gymnasium. In order to combat cheating, most test centers assign seating and place students at the ends of long tables. Once you’re seated, take a minute to check that your calculator is working and your pencils are sharpened. You’ll probably notice that the room is pretty quiet. You’re welcome to chat with people, but most students are feeling a little nervous, and there tends to be a feeling of tension in the room. To calm yourself down, now is a good time to mentally review the most important techniques and strategies that you’re going to want to focus on in each section—the same techniques that you wrote down the night before, as we discussed in last week’s blog.
Eventually, the test administrators will make some announcements and guide you through filling out the first few parts of your answer sheets. If you’ve taken practice exams with ArborBridge, you’ll find that the verbal directions they give you are very similar to what you’ve heard from your proctors. While every proctor is required to read the same set of instructions that are supplied by ACT, there have been instances of proctors giving insufficient instructions. One thing I tell all my students to double check is whether the proctor will be giving a 5-minute notice for each section (they should). Don’t be afraid to raise your hand to clarify anything you’re unsure of.
Pro Tip: Double/triple check that your proctor will give a 5-minute notice for each section. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask!
One thing is very important: once the administrators begin their instructions, do not under any circumstances take your phone out of your pocket or bag, including during the break. Turn your phone completely off—placing it in vibrate mode is not good enough. The ACT takes this rule very seriously, and the last thing you need is to have your score cancelled because you thought you needed to check your text messages!
Once the test begins, you should be in familiar territory! All of the timing and most of the content should be the same as what you’ve seen on past practice tests. After four short hours, you’ll be one step closer to your first day at college!
Need a refresher on Part 1? Read it here.
Look out for Part 3 of the What to Expect on Test Day series next week!