Lucas Fink

SAT Prep Lifehack: Posture

There’s a whole lot of advice out there on what do the Friday before your SAT—including, notably, how much to sleep—and there are plenty tips on what to do the day of. I don’t think you’ll find this advice in a single other place, though, so consider your day made.


Confident poses make you confident

If you like TED talks, then this one is for you especially. Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, has been involved in some research indicating that how you sit or stand can drastically affect your confidence. If you have the time and interest, do yourself a favor and check out that whole talk; it’s a really powerful message.

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But the basic message is that taking up space with your body in more “open” positions triggers a release of testosterone, which makes you feel more confident and assertive. The reverse relationship might be more intuitive—that being confident makes you stand or sit confidently—but it’s not the whole truth. Your mind does affect your body, but your body affects your mind in turn.


How your posture will affect your SAT score

The more confident you are while taking your SAT, the better off you’ll be. For one, confidence will save you time. The common problem of infinite-loop rereading usually arises from anxiety. Similarly, you’ll be less likely to keep flipping ahead to see how many questions are left or to look at the clock again and again. You’ll also get less caught up on small nuisances, like a scratchy shirt tag or a neighbor tapping their foot. (The guy in front of me during my SAT couldn’t seem to keep his leg still…just thinking about it still makes me tense.)


Good SAT posture

First, make sure you’re standing confidently as long as you can before your test. As Cuddy suggests, you might want to go to the bathroom and literally stand with your arms in the air for a minute or two. If that feels too ridiculous, then at least make sure you aren’t crossing your arms, putting your chin down, or covering your neck with your hand. You want to have your shoulders back and your feet at shoulder width. If you speak with anybody, do it clearly, loudly, and confidently.

When you sit down, take up space. If you cross your legs at all, do it with an ankle on a knee, which is pretty open. Lean back a bit, and let your arms fall far from your chest—in your pockets with your elbow sticking out just a bit, for example. Act like you’re hot stuff, and don’t worry about the test. Then, when you get your SAT in front of you, just know that it’s going to go well, and take it like it ain’t no thang.



  • Lucas Fink

    Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.

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