SAT Test day has arrived. Here's what you need to know.

It's finally time to show that test who's boss. You've worked hard in all of your classes. You've put in the time to prep smartly by using Shmoop's guide (definitely). You've even done a little bit of last-minute practice.

You're good to go.

Now all that's left is to follow the instructions below on test day to  maximize your potential and get the score you deserve.

When do I need to be there?

Most test centers open at 7:45 a.m. and doors close at 8 a.m., unless otherwise noted on your admission ticket.

You cannot be admitted once testing has started. If you’re late or absent on test day, you can reschedule. We recommend rescheduling as opposed to re-registering—it will cost less. Find out more at Changing Your Registration Information.

If you show up late, there is some chance that a forgiving and benevolent test coordinator will let you in if testing has not yet begun. But don't count on it!  The test center has the right to refuse you admission if you aren't there before 8 a.m. and there's no predicting what your test center will allow.

The actual test begins sometime between 8:30am and 9:00am.

Are there breaks during the SAT® test?

Absolutely! The College Board may be a powerful organization with the ability to influence students' futures, but its members aren't heartless.

There will probably be one 10-minute break and one 5-minute break between sections, and likely some time to crack your knuckles between the exam and the optional essay. These will be the only times that you can eat and drink, so fuel and hydrate properly during these times.

To make the most of your breaks, get out of your seat, even if you don't need to use the bathroom. Shake out your limbs, walk around, and get your blood flowing. There probably won't be room to breakdance—though technically we suppose any dance performed in those five minutes could be considered a "break dance."

Keep your ID and admission ticket in your pocket, since you'll be checked for this when you return to the test room. You'll have to leave all your test materials on your desk during the break.

And no, you can't use your cell phone or any electronic devices during this time. The test centers in fact prohibit electronic devices, like Google Glass, audio players, any photographic equipment, digital watches. Basically, the test room will be like a time warp back to 1970.

What should I bring with me to the SAT?

The most important thing to bring to the exam is your mind. But there's some other stuff that will come in handy, too: 

  • Watch: Time management on this test is key, and you never know if you might get stuck in an exam room with a broken clock. So wear a watch. But make sure it's a quiet watch … if you start beeping during the test, bad things might happen.
  • Your admission ticket: When you register online for the test, this ticket is automatically created for you. Although you can print it out at any time by signing into the College Board website, we recommend printing it out BEFORE the night before the test. As you've probably learned, that's when printers always decide to flake out. And no, a digital version won't do, since you won't be able to bring your phone with you into the testing center.
  • Calculator: You should bring a calculator to the test for use on the math section, even if you don't think you'll need it. In fact, none of the math questions require a calculator. The people at the College Board and we here at Shmoop recommend you bring one anyway, since it can make you feel more secure about some of your answers, but don't waste time trying to use it on every question. You're not expected to do so, and you shouldn't need to. Finally, make sure you bring a calculator that you're actually allowed to use - four-function, scientific, and graphing calculators are all okay. Check out the official rules here. Oh, and one more thing: no sharing calculators. 
  • Pencils: Two of them, sharpened, #2 lead, with good erasers. Emphasis on the good erasers. You want to be able to change an answer if you realize you've made a mistake. 
  • Photo ID: As tempting as it may be to hire the genius kid from math class to take your SAT for you, the College Board is on to that scheme and makes it a point to check that the you taking the exam is actually, well, you. If you leave your ID at home, you're not getting in to that exam. 
  • Drink and Snack: You'll get a short break during the test, so bring a little bit of brain food.

What NOT to bring on test day:

The College Board is all about policing contraband. It's not hard to figure out why; a few idiots have been trying to cheat on their tests for decades. And the College Board has always been one step ahead of them, blocking people from bringing anything that might be used as a cheat sheet into the exam room.

As our digital gadgetry has gotten more and more fancypants, the College Board has gotten more and more stingy about what can come into the exam room. As a general rule of thumb, if it could be used to carry information, it can't come in the room. So don't bring any of this stuff: 

  • Cell Phones: Yes, your iPhone really could come in handy on a test. No, you can't bring it inside. Yes, we know that it makes you feel naked to go without your phone, even for two or three hours. You're just going to have to deal with it.
  • Fancy Watches: Not "fancy" as in blinged out. "Fancy" as in, watches that beep, make other noises, have an alarm, connect to the internet, etc.
  • MP3 Players, Radios, etc: After you rock "Eye of the Tiger" during your pregame routine, leave your iPod in you car or your locker. 
  • Highlighters or colored pencils: We don't totally get this one, to be honest. But we don't make the rules, do we?
  • Laptop Computers or PDAs: For obvious reasons. One important exception: if you have a disability that requires you to use a computer to take a test, and you've made arrangements for approval beforehand, you may bring your computer.
  • Cameras: Again, for obvious reasons. 
  • Books, Dictionaries, Scratch Paper, Notes, Cheat Sheets: No duh.
  • Compasses, rulers, protractors, etc: Why would you want to make the math section more complicated? Believe us, you can answer all of the math questions without any of these helpers. 


Looking for test prep help? Get Shmoop's SAT® Test Prep to kick off your test prep with thousands of test questions and drills, practice exams, and so much more!