There’s no doubt that as the day of your SAT exam draws near, you’re starting to feel the pressure. Although studying, tutoring, and practice tests can help to prepare you for the test itself, don’t forget that one of the easiest ways to soothe test-day jitters is to consider exam-day logistics well ahead of time. For example, how will you get to the exam? When will you get up and when will you need to leave the house to allow plenty of extra time in case of traffic or other unexpected delays? Do you have something healthy and quick to grab for breakfast? And how about that backpack — is it packed and ready to go?

If your SAT test is almost here, you should be thinking about what you’ll need to bring with you on exam day, and you should be aware of a couple things that you should definitely leave at home. For CollegeVine’s advice about what should be in that backpack waiting by the door on the morning of your SAT test, read on.

What Do I ABSOLUTELY Have To Bring To My SAT?

There are a few absolute essentials that need to be in your bag on test day. Without them, no amount of studying or prep work will matter since you won’t be allowed into the exam. These include:

  • Admission Ticket: You will need to print out your admission ticket and bring it with you on test day. A digital copy on your phone or elsewhere is not acceptable; you must have a paper printed copy. Without it, you cannot verify your identity and will not be allowed to test. If you are approved to test with accommodations these will be noted on your admission ticket. If you registered for your test online, you can access your admission ticket by logging in to your online College Board account and printing it out. If you registered by mail and included an email on your registration, you will receive your admission ticket by email and may print it from there. If you did not provide an email address or you indicated on the form that you prefer to receive a paper ticket, you will be mailed an admission ticket.
  • Photo ID: When you registered online, you uploaded a photo to be used for identification purposes. Your photo ID will need to resemble this photo, and of course be an accurate resemblance of you as well. The morning of your SAT is not the time to shave your head, dye your hair, or accessorize with colored contact lenses. While these things won’t necessarily exclude you from testing, they could potentially make your life more complicated when it comes time to verify your identity. The last thing you need on exam day is any more stress. The following are acceptable forms of photo ID:
      • Unexpired Government-Issued Identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state or national ID card
      • A Current School ID Card
      • A Student ID Form, with affixed photo if you have no other photo ID. This form will need to be filled out ahead of time by your school or a notary, so be sure to complete this in advance.

Your admission ticket and a photo ID are the only two things absolutely required on exam day, so if you find yourself rushing out of a burning building or otherwise only able to pack two essential items, these are the ones to grab. Of course, you won’t be totally set up for success, but at least you’ll be allowed to take the test.

What Else Do I Need To Bring To My SAT?

While your admission ticket and photo ID are the absolute necessities, there are a few other things that you should bring to ensure success. These are:

  • At least two #2 pencils with erasers. These are the only types of writing utensils allowed on the exam, even on the essay portion, so you don’t need to bother bringing any alternatives. Pencils are obviously essential for taking the exam, so you technically won’t be able to test without them, but it’s also likely that your proctor or another student would be able to help you out if, through whatever unfortunate turn of events, you showed up without them.
  • An approved calculator. You can’t share calculators and these aren’t provided by the test center, so it’s fairly imperative to your success that you bring an acceptable graphing calculator to the exam. Simple, four-function calculators are allowed but not recommended, and while you are also allowed to take the test without a calculator, you will be at a distinct disadvantage if you do so. Check the list of acceptable calculators to make sure yours will fit the bill.

What Can I Choose To Bring To My SAT?

If you have the items listed above — your admission ticket, a photo ID, two #2 pencils with erasers, and an approved calculator — you have everything you need on test day to successfully complete your SAT. But your packing doesn’t have to stop there. Several other items are allowed on test day, and it’s a good idea to take advantage of them:

  • Food and Drinks. Although you aren’t allowed to consume these during the actual test, you can have them during the breaks. It’s essential to stay hydrated and energized while testing, so a healthy snack and some water or an electrolyte drink are great options to bring on test day.
  • Sweatshirt. You probably won’t know the temperature of the test center until the day of your SAT, so dressing in easy layers in a good choice. Bringing a sweatshirt that can be easily put on or taken off will ensure that you’re comfortable no matter how air-conditioned the room is. 
  • A watch that won’t make noise. A simple watch for keeping time, that doesn’t make noises or have any additional purpose other than time-keeping, is a great tool. Most test centers will be equipped with clocks to help you track time and your proctor will issue several time warnings, but having a watch ensures that you’ll always be able to see exactly how much time remains.
  • Extra batteries. It would be a huge disappointment and obvious disadvantage if your calculator died in the middle of your SAT. Bring some back up batteries to have on hand, just in case, so that you won’t be stranded if you’re struck by bad luck in the middle of your Math Test.

What Should I Leave at Home On SAT Day?

  • Electronic devices. The only electronic devices allowed during the SAT are approved calculators. Laptops, tablets, cameras, recording devices, phones, music players, or anything else that can take a photo, access the Internet, record audio, or otherwise access information is prohibited. Most testing centers will allow you to store your devices with the proctor during testing, but this isn’t a guaranteed option. It is best to leave these items at home or in the car. The College Board is not joking around with this one; they clearly warn “if your device makes noise, or you are seen using it at any time, including during breaks, you may be dismissed immediately, your scores can be canceled, and the device may be confiscated and its contents inspected.” 
  • Highlighters, pens or other writing utensils. You cannot use anything other than a #2 pencil during the exam, so don’t bother with anything else. Even mechanical pencils are prohibited.
  • Reference tools. The only references allowed are supplied in the test itself. You may not use a protractor, ruler, dictionary, or even scrap paper during the test.

The day of your SAT test is stressful enough on its own. Don’t let confusion about what you need on exam day create any more anxiety. If you are unclear about any requirements or rules, review the College Board’s SAT Test Day Checklist.

For more information about preparing for the SAT, check out CollegeVine’s SAT Tutoring Program, where the brightest and most qualified tutors in the industry guide students to an average score increase of 140 points in only eight hours.

Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist

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