The last twelve years have all led to this moment. You’ve put in your time. You’ve studied. You’ve taken practice tests. You are ready for this. But even after all your hard work, it’s natural to be nervous for the SAT. One of the best ways to calm your nerves is to make sure you are packed and ready to go the night before…
So let’s make sure you know what to bring to the SAT test administration.
I know… in the digital age who uses paper tickets anymore? The SAT—that’s who. For security reasons, the SAT must use hard copies, so make sure you print your Admission Ticket. No ticket, no entry. You will be prompted to print this when you register, but if you forget—or run out of ink—you can always log back into your My SAT account and click “Print Admission Ticket”.
Think security at the airport is tight? Well, TSA’s got nothing on the fine folks at College Board—the organization behind the SAT. Your test ticket will not be enough to get you into your assigned test center. Without a valid photo ID you will be turned away.
Once upon a time, before computers, people wrote with a long, yellow stick called a pencil. Oddly enough, you can still find these antique predecessors of the computer at most stores. The College Board suggests two Number 2 pencils, but I would bring three or four. Sharpen them before-hand and make sure they have soft, usable erasers. The Number 2 pencil is the only writing tool allowed on the SAT. You may not use mechanical pencils, colored pencils, pens, or highlighters.
There is at least one math section in the SAT on which you are allowed to use calculators. You want your best advantage on this test, so bring one.
You may not bring or use a calculator that has a touch screen or has Wi-Fi, cellular, or bluetooth capabilities. You may not use the calculator on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Your calculator must be silent and cannot require the use of a power cord.
And hey, while you’re thinking about what to bring to the SAT, it might be a good idea to throw in an extra set of calculator batteries just in case. There’s nothing worse than a dead calculator mid-calculation. If you don’t already have a trusted calculator, take a look at our list of the best calculators for the SAT.
A recent study found nearly one in 50 Americans have allergies that could cause severe and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. If you are one of them, bring your EpiPen. Place it in a clear, plastic bag and leave it under your desk during testing. If you need other medical accommodations, check the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities.
Test day is going to be mentally challenging so as you go through your list of what to bring to the SAT, consider these extras to help you push through:
Pack it the night before to avoid adding stress to your test day. Be sure it is clean and organized so you can find exactly what you need when you need it. You don’t want to rifle through a year’s worth of crumpled-up papers, gum-wrappers, and love-notes while looking for your Number 2 pencils.
Your brain is mostly water, so keep it—and the rest of you—hydrated. Staying hydrated increases your memory function, your concentration, and your cognition—the ability to think and understand. You are only allowed to drink during your breaks. Have water on hand and take advantage of these moments to sip.
Hunger causes blood sugar levels to drop, which affects your concentration. While you aren’t allowed to eat during the test, bring healthy snacks for your breaks. Lean proteins stave off hunger and fuel your brain so choose snacks like energy bars, trail mix, pretzels and hummus, string cheese, or even a hard-boiled egg.
Testing sites are usually high schools, colleges, and universities. Room temperatures always vary. Bring a sweater or sweatshirt even if it’s hot outside in case of an overactive AC. And be prepared to shed some layers if needed in case of stifling heat.
Proctors will periodically update you on time, but not always when you wish. You may want to wear a watch if keeping track of time is important for pacing your progress. However, a silent testing environment is critical, so make sure your watch does not have an audible alarm.
No article on what to bring to the SAT would be complete without reminding you what not to bring.
I know you love your cell-phone—I love my cell-phone too. It’s hard to imagine spending an entire morning without it nestled safely in your back pocket. But the College Board is dead serious about any electronic device that might distract or be used for cheating. Their website emphatically states that “If your device makes noise or you are seen using it at any time, including during breaks, you may be dismissed immediately, your scores canceled, and the device may be confiscated and its contents inspected.”
This means absolutely no cell-phones, laptops, iPods, audio or recording devices, cameras, texting devices, or anything with Wi-Fi, bluetooth, or cellular capabilities. Proctors will ask to collect any you have brought into the room with you. But I suggest you leave them at home or in your car—it is not worth the risk.
You are not allowed to bring dictionaries, rulers, protractors, or even scratch paper. The only references allowed will be in the test itself.
The only items you absolutely must bring to the SAT are your Admission Ticket, Photo ID, and pencils. So if you forget anything else it won’t be the end of the world, but plan ahead. Be completely ready the night before. Your morning will be less stressful, your testing session will be more comfortable, and nothing will come between you and all your careful test preparation.
This is your day. Relax. You’ve got this.