Imagine spending hours studying for the SAT, only to get to your assigned testing room, getting started on the test, and finding yourself unable to focus. This is a nightmare for most students, but there are ways to help minimize the chance that it will happen to you. One of those is making sure your seat is as comfortable as possible.
There isn’t usually a wide range of seating choices in testing rooms. Most of the time you’ll be met by a sea of these:
Look familiar? You’ve probably spent hours slumped in one just like it. The day of the SAT, however, is no time for slouching! Even if you can’t expect the comfiest chair for the test, you can take steps to make sure your seat only helps you.
What you wear can actually have a significant effect on how comfortable you are during the test. Don’t wear anything too restricting. Tight pants or a stiff jacket can grow increasingly uncomfortable and distracting over the three to four hours you’ll be taking the test. However, you shouldn’t show up in pajamas, either. You want your brain to be in thinking mode, not napping mode! Lastly, consider dressing in layers. The temperature controls in the testing room are unpredictable, so having an extra layer you can add or remove might make a huge difference to your comfort.
It is incredibly tempting to slouch back in your chair or hunch over your test, but these habits aren’t doing you any favors. Research suggests that sitting up straight helps people answer questions more confidently, even when they are unsure of the answer. We can’t promise you’ll feel completely sure of all your answers on the test, but adopting good posture can make you feel more alert and makes it easier to concentrate.
Where you sit in the room might also be something you should consider. Some rooms might assign you seats alphabetically, but if you have a choice, consider where you might feel more comfortable. The back of the room might feel safer, but everyone else will be in front of you, which might be distracting. Some people prefer being in the middle of the room because they feel part of the group and are energized by the fact that everyone around them is also testing, but this might also be distracting for some. The front row eliminates the potential for being distracted by people in front of you, but can also feel like being in the spotlight. Think about which appeals to you most, then try to sit there on test day.
Testing rooms are not designed to be comfortable. You can only do so much, but by paying attention to your posture and choosing your outfit and seat mindfully, you can take control of your personal comfort and limit potential environmental distractions on test day.
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About Elizabeth Peterson
Elizabeth holds a degree in Psychology from The College of William & Mary. While there, she volunteered as a tutor and discovered she loved the personal connection she formed with her students. She has now been helping students with test prep and schoolwork as a professional tutor for over six years. When not discussing grammar or reading passages, she can be found trying every drink at her local coffee shop while writing creative short stories and making plans for her next travel adventure!
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