SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

SAT Rules and Regulations: Don't Make a Mistake


Because the SAT is such a high stakes test, the College Board has implemented a series of rules to ensure that there is no cheating and that all students have as close to the same test-taking experience as possible. Before you take the SAT, you should familiarize yourself with these rules. It would be a shame to spend months preparing and be in the middle of acing your SAT, only to get kicked out of the test and have your score canceled because your phone was on, and you received a text during the last section. That’s an extreme example, but it's possible. Know the rules so you can protect yourself.

In this article, I will discuss SAT rules, the reasons behind the rules, and the possible consequences for violating SAT rules and regulations.


The Purpose of SAT Rules

The primary purposes of the rules for the SAT are to prevent cheating and ensure the same test-taking experience for all students. The College Board is trying to create a fair, standardized test-taking experience for everyone who takes the SAT.

If certain people are given an unfair advantage, that could affect college admissions and future SAT scores.

Now let's take a look at all the SAT rules and regulations.


SAT Rules

You can check out the rules the College Board provides for the SAT. Most of the rules are relatively basic: take your own test, follow the test instructions, and don't document or record anything from the test.

However, let's go over some of these rules in more depth. I know we all generally hate talking about rules, but these are important details. Better to know them now than to run into problems later.

Check out the article on SAT admission tickets. You will have to present your ticket along with valid photo identification to get into the test. How sad would it be to feel fully prepared to take your SAT and wake up early on a Saturday morning, only to be denied admission to the test center?

The only resource you're allowed to use to help you on your SAT is an SAT-approved calculator. You can't use a dictionary or thesaurus for your essay. You can't bring in any notes or scratch paper. You can't use an electronic device that has the capacity to store information.

During your SAT, don't leave the building for any reason. Even if you're on break and see one of your friends waving to you outside, don't do it. If you leave the building before the test is over, your test is supposed to be canceled.

The hardest rule to remember is not to discuss exam content unless it's released as part of a College Board service. This means that you're not allowed to discuss any part of the test during breaks. You're not allowed to talk about a difficult reading passage with your friend after the test is over. On the Monday after your test, you can't tell your math teacher about a specific question she prepared you for. You can't post any questions on Reddit.

Obviously, you're probably not going to get caught discussing exam content. The College Board is not monitoring everything you say and everything you do on the internet. However, I recommend that you don't take any chances. If a strict proctor hears you talking about exam questions during a break, that could be bad news for you.



No talking about exam content



What You Must Bring to the Test

Admission Ticket- You must have your admission ticket on test day.

Photo Identification- You must present acceptable photo ID to be admitted to the test center. You may be denied entrance to the test center or your scores may be withheld or canceled if you can't present acceptable ID, if the validity of the ID is in question, or if you fail to follow the Identification Requirements and Policies.


What You Should Bring

At least two No. 2 pencils- If you want to take the test and get a score, you're going to need a No. 2 pencil. Don't be that person frantically asking everyone in the room for a pencil minutes before the test. Also, a working eraser will be helpful.

An acceptable calculator- Make sure the calculator you bring to the test is one of the SAT-approved calculators.  You can use graphing calculators, scientific calculators, or four-function calculators (not recommended).

You can't use as a calculator any laptop or portable/handheld computer, electronic writing pad or pen-input/stylus driven device, pocket organizer, cell phone calculator, calculator that has a QWERTY keypad, or calculator that uses an electrical outlet, makes noise, or has a paper tape.

A watch without audible alarm- I do recommend bringing a watch to help keep track of your time during the test. It's possible that the room you're in may not have a functioning clock, or your proctor may forget to update you on how much time is remaining in a section. However, make sure the watch you bring doesn't make any noise. If the alarm on your watch goes off, that is an SAT rule violation and your score could be canceled.

Miscellaneous Items- Here are some things you should bring that will make your test-taking experience more comfortable and less stressful: a backpack, snacks and water for breaks, extra batteries for your calculator, and extra pencils and erasers.



Bring a few snacks for break time


What You Shouldn't Bring

Cell phones- This rule is a little tricky since we've all become so reliant on cell phones, and you might need your phone before or after your test. If your phone is put away in a backpack (including during breaks) and turned off during the test, you shouldn't have a problem. Generally, proctors will just tell you to turn your phone off since it's too difficult to confiscate everyone's phone.

However, if you can't resist the urge to look at your phone and dash off a text, maybe you should consider leaving it at home.

Audio players/recorders, tablets, laptops, notebooks, Google Glass, or any other computing devices

Separate timers of any type

Cameras or any other photographic equipment

Any devices, including digital watches, that can be used to record, transmit, receive, or play back audio, photographic, text, or video content (with the exception of CD players used for Language with Listening Subject Tests only)

Most of these items are prohibited to prevent cheating and make sure you aren't using any device that creates noise and distracts others during the test.


Possible Consequences for Rules Violations

The consequences for violating any of these rules can vary. Often the consequence will depend on the strictness of your proctor or test center. If you don't have proper ID or your admission ticket, you may not be admitted to the test.

If you're caught violating any of the other rules, you can be dismissed from the test and possibly have your score canceled. If your score is canceled, your SAT registration fee won't be reimbursed.

In the most extreme cases, the College Board can take legal action if you're caught cheating. Make sure you take your own test, and don't take a test for anybody else. You really don't want to be the next person to get caught up in an SAT cheating scandal.



Cheating is bad


What's Next?

If you're prepared for your SAT, I'm sure that will lessen any temptation to cheat. Learn the 15 tips to improve your SAT score and the 21 SAT tips and tricks to use on the SAT.

If you're aiming for a perfect score, learn from a perfect scorer how to get a 1600 on your SAT.


Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points


Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

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Justin Berkman
About the Author

Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.

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