Are you trying to register for the SAT but can't find any testing centers close to where you live? What should you do?
College Board, the corporation that develops and administers the SAT, offers a way for students to take the SAT at a location closer to them, called “testing closer to home.” Read on to learn more about this special accommodation, its benefits and drawbacks, and how to apply for it.
What Is Private SAT Testing and Testing Closer to Home?
Testing closer to home is a special accommodation offered by the College Board for students taking the SAT or SAT subject tests. It’s available for students who do not live close to an official SAT testing center.
This accommodation is often used by international students because SAT testing centers are not as numerous in countries outside the US. However, American students living in rural areas or those living in a region affected by a natural disaster may not have an SAT testing center nearby and may also need to request testing closer to home.
In order to request testing closer to home, you submit a request to the College Board, and if it is approved, the College Board will attempt to open a testing center closer to where you live. Your new testing center will be assigned to you; you do not get to choose where you’d like to take the SAT.
This testing center will still have a proctor and follow the rules of regular SAT testing. If you need and are eligible for other special accommodations, such as extended time to complete the exam, you will have to visit the College Board’s Service for Students with Disabilities site to separately request additional accommodations.
Your test will still be taken on one of the official SAT test days; testing closer to home does not allow you to change the date of your exam. The College Board will attempt to have multiple students take the test together, but there is a possibility that will you take the SAT alone, with just a proctor.
Who Is Eligible for Testing Closer to Home?
Students who live more than 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the nearest testing center are eligible to request that College Board try to open a new testing site near them.
This accommodation is also available for test takers outside the US, however; it is not available in India or Pakistan.
For students taking the test outside of the US, testing closer to home is only available for test dates from November to March (not the October or June test dates). Testing closer to home is not available for students registering late, either in the US or abroad.
If there aren't any test centers near you, you may need to apply for testing closer to home
How Do You Apply for Testing Closer to Home?
If you meet the eligibility requirements and are interested in applying for testing closer to home, the first step is to fill out the paper registration form for the SAT.
When you need to enter the code for your testing center on the registration form, fill in 02000 for the first choice, and leave the second choice blank. You also must attach a letter describing your situation and why you are requesting a closer testing center. This letter doesn’t need to be lengthy, just state where you are, where your closest testing center is, how far it is from you, and why it would be difficult or impossible for you to travel there to take the SAT. Then state that you’d like to be able to take the test at a location closer to where you live.
Next, mail in the registration form and the letter to the mailing address listed on the registration form instructions. These documents must be mailed early! If you are taking the test in the US, the letter must be mailed by the postmark deadline date for regular registration, which occurs about a month before the test date.
If you are taking the test in an international location, then the letter must be mailed early enough so that it will be received by the early registration deadline date. The early registration deadline is about five weeks before the test date, so you will want to mail your letter about two months before your desired SAT test date.
Within several weeks, the College Board will notify you of whether or not your request has been approved. If approved, you will be mailed an Admission Ticket showing your test center assignment several weeks before you take the SAT.
What Are the Benefits of Testing Closer to Home?
Why would a student want to apply for testing closer to home? There are several benefits:
Closer Testing Center
This is obviously the biggest advantage. Applying to take the SAT closer to where you live can make it much easier to take the test or even make it possible for students who wouldn’t normally be able to get to a testing center because of the distance.
Your Availability to Take the SAT may Increase
If your closest regular testing center is far away, there may only be a certain testing date when you can travel there. This date may not coordinate well with your schedule, it may be too early for you to have done enough studying, or it may be too late to send the scores to some colleges. Having a testing center closer to you may give you more options for when to take the SAT.
Keep in mind though that, even with testing closer to home, you will still only be able to take the SAT on official testing days and that, for international students, this accommodation is only available from November to March.
Can Reduce Anxiety
Having a testing center closer to where you live can also reduce some of the stress and anxiety surrounding the SAT. You will likely be more familiar with the area where you will be taking the test and can worry less about traveling.
Knowing where your test center is can help you be more confident for the SAT. Image Source: clipartzebraz
What Are Potential Downsides to Testing Closer to Home?
You Must Apply Early
You will need to know when you’d like to take the SAT at least 1-2 months before the testing date in order to submit your request on time. Therefore, testing closer to home isn’t a good option for students trying to take the SAT on short notice.
In order to apply for testing closer to home, you must submit the paper registration form through the mail; you cannot submit the form online. You must also write a letter to the College Board explaining why you need a testing center closer to where you live.
Applying for testing closer to home will take more time than registering for the SAT at an already designated testing center because filling out a paper version of the registration form often takes more time than filling it out online, and you must also write a letter explaining your situation and why you qualify for testing closer to home.
Most of the time, when you register for the SAT, you will know pretty much immediately if you will be able to take the test on a certain date and where you will be taking it. When you apply for testing closer to home, you will have to wait several weeks to hear back from the College Board to learn if they accepted your request and, if so, where your testing center will be.
This delay can be stressful, and it can also make planning other parts of your schedule difficult until you receive confirmation from the College Board.
May Not Make Traveling to the Test Center Easier
If they approve your request, the College Board will choose where your new testing center will be. This location will be closer to you, but that does not automatically mean it will be easier to get to. Even if it’s closer, your new testing center may be in an area without public transportation, suffer from bad traffic, or have other transportation difficulties. Closer does not automatically mean easier to get to!
So, Should You Apply for Testing Closer to Home?
As you now know, there are both positive and negative benefits to applying for the College Board’s testing closer to home accommodation. So how do you know if it’s right for you? Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide:
Do You Meet the Eligibility Requirements?
The first step in determining whether you should apply for testing closer to home is to make sure you are eligible. Is your closest testing center more than 75 miles/120 kilometers from where you live? Are you living in a country other than India or Pakistan? If taking the test internationally, are you applying for a test date between November and March?
If you meet all these requirements, read on to help make your decision.
Do You Have Enough Time to Apply?
If taking the test in the United States, you will need to apply at least a month before the date you’d like to take the SAT. If taking the test abroad, you will need to apply at least two months in advance. Before you start applying for testing closer to home, make sure your request will arrive by the deadline.
Do you have enough time to request testing closer to home?
How Difficult Will It Be to Get to Your Current Test Center?
This is the most important consideration. The testing closer to home accommodation requires additional time and effort to apply, and you want to make sure this extra work is worth it. Find where you closest current testing center would be and ask yourself:
- How far is this testing center from me?
- Do I know how to get there or know someone who does?
- Would I be able to get there on test day? How?
- Is carpooling an option? (Maybe you have a friend taking the SAT who can drive you)
If you’re not sure how difficult it would be for you to get to the current closest test center, you can have a practice run where you pick a day to travel there and see how difficult and time-consuming it would be.
How Do You Feel About Taking the Test With Fewer Students?
There is no guarantee as to how many people you will take the SAT with if you apply for and are approved for testing closer to home. However, it will likely be fewer than if you were taking the test at a standard testing center, and there is also a chance that you will be the only test taker in the room.
Some people think this is a benefit because they find the noises others make, like rustling papers or scuffing their feet, distracting. Others may feel uncomfortable or pressured if they are the only person in the room with a proctor for several hours. Consider how you would feel about this before applying.
If after analyzing your current options you feel that you either cannot travel to the closest testing center or getting there would require a lot of extra time, effort, or stress, and you meet the eligibility requirements, then you should apply for testing closer to home
Testing closer to home is a special accommodation offered by the College Board for SAT test takers who do not live close to an already established test center.
It is available for people who live more than 75 miles/120 kilometers from a test center.
Both domestic and international test takers can apply, but it is not available in India or Pakistan.
You should apply for this accommodation if traveling to the current closest testing center is impossible or would require a great deal of time and effort.
- For more information and to apply, go to the College Board’s website on testing closer to home
Do you have other questions about registering for the SAT? Read our complete guide to SAT registration, with pictures.
Wondering about other SAT accommodations? Find all the information you need to know about them in our guide!
Studying for the SAT? Check out our ultimate guide to SAT prep for all the information you need to get a great SAT score.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.