Michael is an entertainer. He had graduated from New York University and attended Oxford University, then performed with the Harlem Globetrotters and onstage at Carnegie Hall. I had a lot of belly laughs while studying for the SAT with Michael.
As I was packing my stuff, getting ready to go home for a good night’s sleep before the test, Michael suddenly had one more lesson. “Write this down,” he said.
“No freaking out,” he told me, so I wrote that down.
“Nothing distracts us," he continued, and then he moved on to a line of questioning like he was preparing me for a military operation.
“What happens if the building’s on fire?”
“You don’t move,” he said. “You keep working.”
He continued: “What if someone throws up?” My eyes must have opened very wide at that point because I'd heard stories of that happening and I hate throw-up and was praying this would never happen to me. “You keep working,” he said.
For fifteen minutes he dictated his final test prep instructions. I went home and did exactly as he’d said.
Michael tailors his last-minute tips for each student, but these were his final words of wisdom for me:
The Night Before the SAT:
1) Do not answer the phone.
2) Do not look at Facebook or Twitter.
3) Do not make videos or blog posts.
4) Do not look at a computer.
During the SAT:
1) Think: Did I answer the question they asked?
2) Think: Did I use my calculator?
3) Think: There are no new questions.
UPDATE (Facebook comment from Bob Gilvey):
"Think: Did I answer the question they asked?" Especially on the reading. Reading questions are designed to make you lose control of the question. There will always be an incorrect answer that will be "true", but does not answer the question. The "true" answer will feel quite comfortable, while the correct answer, quite often, will be difficult to understand. Especially if you have lost the question. Go back to the question. That's where the money is.
If you're taking the SAT tomorrow, GOOD LUCK! Try not to stress out too much. Don't forget to breathe. Focus. Don't flinch. Keep your arms uncrossed and your feet on the ground.
Write to me and let me know how it went!