What to Bring to the SAT on Test Day
Are you ready for test day? You’ve done hours and hours of SAT prep, tons of homework, have revisited, reviewed, and redone past missed problems, drilled yourself on important rules, concepts, and formulas, and now it’s time to take the test. Make sure you know what to bring to the SAT and what not to bring.
Don’t forget to check for test center closings
The last thing you’d want is to go to a testing location only to find out the test has been canceled. It’s rare, but it does happen. Maybe the weather’s bad or something. Check the College Board web site and also check with your test center to ensure it will be open if you suspect the SAT might be canceled.
What to Bring to the Testing Center
Here’s the official list of what to bring to the testing center when you take the SAT. I’ll explore each of these topics in greater detail below.
- Your Admission Ticket
- Acceptable photo ID
- Two No. 2 pencils with erasers
- An approved calculator
- Epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPens) are permitted without the need for accommodations. They must be placed in a clear bag and stored under the student’s desk during testing. For policies on other medications and medical devices, contact Services for Students with Disabilities.
Your Admission Ticket
You know you can’t just show up for the SAT, right? You have to register to take the test, and do so in advance. When you’ve completed your registration (which also involves uploading a photo of yourself so the test administrators know who to expect), you’ll be given the option to print your admission ticket. Do so, and keep it in a safe place so it’s ready on test day. You don’t want to be scrambling to reprint your admission ticket the morning of the test.
While we’re at it, don’t forget to be aware of registration deadlines! Register for your SAT well in advance and be certain that you’re committed to having a free schedule (and that you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep the night before the big day).
Acceptable Photo ID
In addition to your admission ticket, which may include a photo of you, you’re also required to bring a piece of acceptable photo ID to the SAT testing center.
But what constitutes “acceptable” photo ID?
Not a photo of you using a Snapchat dog filter, that’s for sure!
Here’s what the College Board web site has to say about acceptable photo ID:
ID documents must meet all of these requirements:
- Be a valid (unexpired) photo ID that is government-issued or issued by the school that you currently attend. School IDs from the prior school year are valid through December of the current calendar year. (For example, school IDs from 2015-16 can be used through December 31, 2016.)
- Be an original, physical document (not photocopied or electronic).
- Bear your full, legal name exactly as it appears on your Admission Ticket, including the order of the names.
- Bear a recent recognizable photograph that clearly matches both your appearance on test day and the photo on your Admission Ticket.
- Be in good condition, with clearly legible English language text and a clearly visible photograph.
Notice that a driver’s license, state ID, or school ID (provided it’s recent) are all acceptable forms of ID.
Be sure that your photo ID and the photo on your admission ticket match your appearance on the day of the test. Don’t get any facial tattoos or drastic hair changes the night before taking the SAT. You don’t want to be denied admission to the test because administrators think you’re not who you say you are.
Overall, though, as long as you look similar to your admission ticket photo and photo ID and the name on all of these documents is the same, you should have no problem on the morning of the test!
Two No. 2 Pencils with Erasers
Sometimes overzealous students bring gigantic packs of No. 2 pencils, and we admire them for their preparedness. For most people, though, two pencils will suffice. Just to be safe, it’s wise to use a regular pencil as opposed to a mechanical pencil, but all that matters is that the LEAD in your pencil is No. 2. You want to make sure the Scantron machine is able to grade your test, and to do so, it needs to be able to read the marks you’ve made. No. 2 lead is an absolute must.
And don’t forget about erasers!
Everyone makes mistakes. Frankly, one of the most annoying things about the SAT is that it doesn’t give you unlimited space in which to do your calculations. Students whose handwriting is naturally big might want to practice writing smaller to be ready for test day.
Either way, though, you don’t want the space allotted to you for calculations to become overcrowded with failed starts. That’s where the eraser comes in. It lets you free up space to do more work.
And what if you want to CHANGE an answer? A trusty eraser is a MUST for this purpose. If you can’t fully erase the marks you’ve made on your answer document and the Scantron machine detects you’ve bubbled in two answer choices instead of just one, you run the risk of missing the question. Make sure you bubble properly and erase thoroughly when you need to erase.
An Approved Calculator
Don’t just assume that someone’s going to lend you a calculator, and don’t assume that you’ll be able to do the entire test comfortably without one. You’re going to want to bring an approved calculator for use on the SAT.
Is your calculator approved? Check the College Board web site for a list of approved calculators.
Here’s the link to follow: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/taking-the-test/calculator-policy
Also, be certain that your calculator has FRESH BATTERIES. The last thing you want is for your calculator to die in the middle of a long string of involved calculations!
If you require the use of an Epi-Pen, have no fear. You don’t need any special permission in order to bring your Epi-Pen with you to the testing center. Remember to bring your Epi-Pen. The last thing you want is to be separated from a device that could save your life!
If there’s something else you’re hoping to bring or have questions about policies on accomodations for students with disabilities, check out the following College Board page, which will help guide you and answer your questions:
Things You Don’t HAVE to Bring, But Are Nice to Have
Here are some items that the College Board reminds you might be nice to have with you when you take the SAT:
Nice to Have
- A watch (without an audible alarm)
- Extra batteries and backup equipment—you’ll have to ask for permission to access them. They cannot be on your desk during the test.
- A bag or backpack
- A drink or snacks (for your break)
- Breakfast before you arrive
A Watch (Without an Audible Alarm)
Yes, the SAT is a timed test. It’s important to be able to pace yourself, and to do so, you’re going to need an accurate idea of how much time has passed and how much time remains in each section. Luckily, a watch will allow you to do just that! Be careful, though; if you watch makes any kind of noise, you’ll get in trouble! You also don’t want a watch that would raise any question about the possibility of cheating, so no texting your friends for the answer with an Apple Watch.
I’ve already mentioned batteries, but they’re so wonderful (seeing as they power the calculator you should definitely bring) that they deserve a second mention.
Remember that you can’t have them on your desk during the test, though, so you’ll need to permission to access them. Be sure to check that your calculator has fresh batteries and that you’ve brought the right kind of back-up batteries.
A Bag or Backpack
If you need something to carry your personal items, look no further than a bag or backpack! If you have a back or backpack with you, then you won’t have to carry all of your supplies and documents by hand. So don’t forget to bring a bag or backpack to stow these items in.
Drinks and Snacks
There are designated break times during the SAT, during which you can refresh yourself and obtain a boost of energy from a drink or snack. Be sure the drinks and snacks you choose will HELP your performance on the test, rather than hinder it. Healthy is best, when in doubt.
No one wants hunger or thirst to distract them from their optimal performance on the SAT, so be sure to bring some yummy snacks and drinks to indulge in during the break. You’ll be glad you did!
Mints and gum might help keep you alert during the test as well!
Breakfast Before the Test
It goes without saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that fact is true on the day of the SAT as well!
Be sure the breakfast you choose isn’t merely a bunch of sugar, however. You want healthy food to give you sustained energy, so make sure you get some protein and beneficial fats. Fiber can help you feel full longer, too. Avoid foods that will upset your stomach or cause you to crash from a sugar rush.
What NOT to Bring
One could spend pages and pages listing all of the things you SHOULDN’T bring to the SAT. For example, you probably shouldn’t bring your pet elephant, nor should you bring items like cigarettes and alcohol that might get you in trouble. Use common sense! If it isn’t on the list of items you SHOULD bring, then I’d suggest not bringing it.
That being said, the College Board web site contains a list of items that are expressly prohibited during the SAT. I’d advise you not to bring any of the following items to your testing location the morning of the SAT:
What Not to Bring
- Any devices, including digital watches, that can be used to record, transmit, receive, or play back audio, photographic, text, or video content (with the exception of CD players used for Language with Listening Subject Tests only)
- Audio players/recorders, tablets, laptops, notebooks, Google Glass, or any other personal computing devices
- iPods or other MP3 players
- iPads or other tablet devices
- Laptops, notebooks, PDAs or any other personal computing devices
- Any texting device
- Cameras or any other photographic equipment
- Separate timers of any type
- Protractors, compasses, rulers
- Highlighters, colored pens, colored pencils
- Pamphlets or papers of any kind
- Dictionaries or other books—there are no exceptions, even if English is not your first language
- Food or drinks (except for during breaks), unless approved by the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities. Learn more about testing with accommodations.
Carefully review the list above and ensure you’re not planning to bring any of the items it contains to the SAT. Anythng that might compromise the integrity of the testing experience, anything that accesses the internet or plays or records audio and video, is definitely prohibited. Note also that you shouldn’t bring things like protractors, compasses, rulers, and writing utensils other than your No. 2 pencil. You also shouldn’t bring ANY documents other than your admission ticket and photo ID. The last thing you want to do is have your study materials discovered or risk getting your scores canceled because a proctor spots a formula sheet or flash cards that you’ve brought from home.
The bottom line?
Make sure to bring everything that you MUST have for the SAT, as well as all of the things that would be NICE to have for the SAT. And don’t, under any circumstances, attempt to bring items that you SHOULDN’T bring into the testing center. If such items are discovered, you run the risk of having your scores canceled. Then all of your hard work on the SAT would be a waste of time—and no one likes wasting their time.
Hopefully this list of what to bring on SAT test day and what not to bring has been helpful to you! Good luck on the SAT. We’re all rooting for you!
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