Everything You Need To Bring On SAT Test Day

You’ve studied hard for the SAT for months—maybe even taken an SAT prep class or two—and now your head is filled with the rules of grammar, transition words, the Pythagorean theorem, trigonometric identities, and all sorts of other concepts. With all this information jamming your head, you might be worried about forgetting what to bring with you on test day. But, have no fear—we’ve made a list for you.

Here’s what you need to bring with you on SAT test day: a printed admission ticket, an ID with a photograph, pencils, an eraser, and a scientific or graphing calculator.

More details below—along with some other (optional) things you might want to bring along on test day. For some extra help with your SAT prep, consider taking an SAT prep course with Prep Expert.

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Your Admission Ticket

You won’t be admitted to the testing center without a paper copy of your admission ticket—no exceptions.

Even in the smartphone era, the College Board remains decidedly old-school when it comes to your admission ticket—which means you’ll need to print yours off before leaving for the test.

To print your ticket, log in to your College Board account and select, “Print Admission Ticket.”

If you’re anything like this test-taker and haven’t had a printer at home in years, you should remember to print out a copy at your school library or have a parent print it out for you at their office. You can also print the ticket out for a reasonable fee at places like FedEx Office or Staples—just remember to do this before test day!

There’s nothing more anxiety-provoking than having to scramble around looking for a printer an hour before the SAT!


Your Photo ID

Bring an unexpired government ID with you—and make sure that this ID matches or closely resembles your College Board picture.

In terms of acceptable IDs, what exactly fits the bill? Any of the following are OK:

  • Driver’s license
  • Learner’s permit
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • National ID
  • Current school ID card

If you don’t have any of these things, then you can ask your school to fill out a Student ID form for you as a replacement. Remember to ask for this well in advance of the test!

If you think there’s even a slight chance an administrator might determine your ID picture doesn’t match the one the College Board has, pick another form of ID to use, or address it with the College Board in advance of the test date. Try to do this a few weeks before the test if you have to: the College Board moves slowly.

You won’t be able to use many of the other forms of ID you might have in your wallet—credit or debit cards, Social Security cards or birth certificates, employee IDs, et cetera.

Bottom line—the best thing to do is bring a couple of acceptable forms of ID with you on test day. It’s never a bad idea to have a backup.


Two Pencils & An Eraser

Bring along at least two of your favorite pencils, with erasers.

It might seem trivial, but put some thought into what type of pencils you bring with you on test day. You should choose something you’re used to and comfortable with using.

Personally, I prefer mechanical pencils with erasers at the tips. But, some of my students say the lead in mechanical pencils breaks too easily, and prefer good old-fashioned #2 pencils and gum erasers. You’re allowed to bring a pencil sharpener, although all your pencils should be sharpened in advance, so you don’t have to waste time doing this.

It also never hurts to bring two or three extra pencils—you probably won’t end up needing them, but you never know. You might end up being an unprepared classmate’s hero if you lend them one before the test!

As useful as they might be on the Reading test, you’re not allowed to use highlighters, so don’t bother bringing them. Nor are you allowed to use pens. And don’t bring white-out for the Essay section, either—it’s not allowed.

During the Essay, all you need to do to correct errors is write a clean line through your mistake, and write the correction next to it, or above it with a carrot (^) indicating the change. This is what the Essay graders will expect.


A Graphing Or Scientific Calculator

Bring a graphing or scientific calculator, along with an extra battery, for the Math with Calculator section.

A basic four-function (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) calculator won’t give you all the functionality you need to perform your best on the SAT. You should bring either a graphing or scientific calculator.

In most cases, the calculator you use in your high school math and science classes will suffice. Make sure you know how to use this calculator, and replace the battery in the days before the test.

Just in case something goes wrong, it’s not a bad idea to bring a backup battery, too.

If like most students, you use a Texas Instruments (TI) calculator, you most likely have a College Board-approved calculator. Here’s a partial list of some of the more popular versions that are allowed for use on the SAT:

  • TI-30 (including multiview)
  • TI-34
  • TI-82
  • TI-83
  • TI-84 (including the new color models)
  • TI-89 (including Titanium)
  • TI-Nspire (all models)
  • TI-Nspire CAS (all models)

You probably know this by now, but you absolutely cannot use your iPhone, Android or another smartphone as your calculator. Nor can you use anything that needs to be plugged in, prints, or makes noise. And you can’t use super-advanced calculators, a list of which the College Board website provides.

The College Board website has a comprehensive list of acceptable calculators if you’re unsure yours will be permitted.


A Watch

Bring a wristwatch so you can keep your own time.

Although it’s not required, I highly recommend bringing a simple wristwatch so you can keep your own time and track your pace on the SAT. Don’t use one with a lot of bells and whistles, or one that makes too much noise, as it won’t be permitted in the test center.

The proctor will announce time at a few points during the test, and there will be a clock on the wall in the test center, but just in case it’s hard for you to see, it will come in really handy to have your own watch for the test.

The only reason to not bring a watch is if you think it will distract you or make you anxious during the test. If this is the case, forgo it.

If you don’t own a wristwatch, you can buy a good one at a place like Target, Wal-Mart or Kohls. Remember, you don’t need to make a fashion statement with this watch—the barest-boned, cheapest watch you can find will absolutely do.

So, stick with the basics for now, and you can buy a gold-plated blinged-out version after your SAT success makes you a millionaire.


Snacks & A Bottle Of Water

Bring some healthy snacks and a bottle of water to re-energize and hydrate during test breaks.

You should eat a healthy breakfast on the morning of the test. This means something with protein, to give you energy, and nothing too heavy, so you’re not sluggish during the test. This might not be enough to get you through the entire test, though, so it’s a good idea to bring some healthy snacks—mixed nuts, vegetables, string cheese, peanut butter, crackers—to munch on during test breaks.

A bottle of water is another good thing to have. Taking the SAT is not unlike running a marathon—even though it’s your brain and not your body that’s being taxed, it’s still important to a fully-functioning you that you remain hydrated.

So, bring a bottle of water—at the very least, it will prevent you from having to spend your entire break waiting in line for the water fountain!


A Rested & Ready You

Get a good night’s sleep and calm yourself.

In order to perform at the top of your game on test day, you should make sure to give yourself a break the night before the test—no cramming!—and get a full night’s sleep. If you’re someone who needs more than eight hours of sleep to feel good, then budget for this.

Don’t take any sleep meds or supplements if you’ve never used them before. Many of these sleep aids can leave you feeling extremely groggy and fuzzy-headed the next day.

If you happen to suffer from anxiety—test-day or otherwise—you can try meditation to calm yourself. A very effective method of meditation I recommend to my students is to pick a word and repeat it to yourself in your head, with your eyes closed, for 20 minutes.

Your thoughts will likely stray from this word (your “mantra”) to thoughts of the test. When this happens, don’t get frustrated—just bring your focus back to the mantra. This type of meditation has been scientifically proven to lower anxiety and improve well-being.

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