SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

What to Bring to the SAT - and What Not To Bring

Posted by Rebecca Safier | Feb 22, 2015 12:43:00 PM

SAT Logistics



After months of planning and prepping, test day is finally upon you! What exactly do you need to bring to the SAT, and what should you just leave home?

We’ll talk about what to bring to the SAT for sure, as well as some not so obvious things that might come in handy. Make sure your bag is packed and ready to go so you can focus on performing your best, and not on tracking down a pencil sharpener!


What to Bring on SAT Day

  1. Your Admission Ticket. You must print out your admission ticket and bring it to your testing center. A paper copy of your ticket is 100% necessary for admission. You can’t show it on your cell phone or another device. Print by logging into your College Board account and clicking on “Print Admission Ticket.”

  2. Your Photo ID. Your photo ID should resemble the picture that you uploaded to College Board when you registered. Below is a list of acceptable and unacceptable forms of ID:

    • Acceptable IDs include unexpired government-issued IDs, such as a driver’s license, passport, military ID or national ID; a current school ID card; or a Student ID Form, if you don’t have any of the other forms. This form must be prepared by the school you currently attend or by a notary.

    • Unacceptable IDs include IDs that are expired or damaged or do not match your College Board picture. Some unacceptable forms of ID are credit or debit cards (even ones with photographs), birth certificates, Social Security cards, employee ID cards, ChildFind ID cards, or any other temporary ID cards.

  3. At Least Two #2 Pencils and an Eraser. Pens, highlighters, liquid paper, or any other writing utensils are not allowed, not even for the essay. Check your erasers to make sure they work well.

  4. An Acceptable Calculator.

    • Acceptable calculators include graphing and scientific calculators. A basic four-function calculator is also allowed, but not recommended. Learn all about the uses and limitations of your calculator here.

    • Unacceptable calculators and devices include laptops, tablets, cell phones, and calculators that make noise or use a keyboard-like (QWERTY) keypad, an electrical outlet, or a paper tape. Basically don’t bring anything that could be disruptive or has communication capabilities.

As long as you have these four items - your admission ticket, ID, pencils, and calculator - then you should have no trouble being admitted into the SAT. Now that you know things to bring to the SAT, let’s consider a few other materials that may help you out during the test.


What Else Might Come In Handy

  • Extra #2 pencils and a small handheld pencil sharpener. Since time is tight and talking is prohibited, you definitely don’t want to find yourself in the middle of the SAT with nothing to write with! Preclude this possibility up front with backup for your writing utensils.
  • Extra batteries for your calculator, just in case. It’s also a good idea to put in new batteries the day or two before the SAT - and definitely make sure your calculator is in good working order.
  • A drink and snacks for your breaks. These may have to stay in your bag, locker, or up at the test administrator’s desk and will have to be consumed outside of the testing room. The SAT is a long test; drinks and snacks will help you stay hydrated, energized, and focused.
  • A watch, as long as it doesn’t have any audible alarms or noises. If it will help you keep track of time, then you should bring one along. If you just find it distracting, then leave it at home on test day.

These extras and backup materials may prove helpful during the SAT. Now what should you definitely not bring to your test? There are lots of prohibited items, and we’ll list a few below, but your best bet would just be not to bring anything that’s not recommended on the above lists.




What NOT to Bring

  • Any other technology besides your calculator, especially any with communication or recording capabilities. This means no cell phones, laptops, iPods, iPads, tablets, separate timers, cameras, or audio recorders. Security is taken extremely seriously by College Board, as you can tell from these high profile cheating scandals.

  • Any other notes, “cheat sheets,” dictionaries, translators, books, or papers.

  • And to reiterate, if you must bring your cell phone, turn it off well before the test. If it beeps once, your proctor will confiscate it and cancel your test immediately.


SAT Test Day Tips

Preparation is key. Get all of your materials gathered and packed the day before your test. You definitely don’t want to be scrambling in the morning trying to track down pencils and batteries for your graphing calculator. This would cause a whole lot of unnecessary anxiety - not to mention could make you late (and thus ineligible) for the test! Get everything taken care of at least the day before.

Put new batteries in your graphing calculator and make sure it’s working well.

Print out a couple copies of your admission ticket, just to have a backup. If you don’t have a printer, make sure to get this taken care of at school, your local library, or a printing center like Staples. As mentioned above, don’t wait until the morning or late the night before to print. It’s a strange and unexplainable rule of printers that they tend to malfunction right before a big test or due date. Save yourself the hassle!

On the morning of the test, eat a healthy breakfast. Exercising the day before (and in general) may also aid in easing your stress levels and clearing your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of diet and exercise in feeling good and thinking clearly.

Finally, make a checklist and double check your bag one last time before heading to your testing center. After all your preparation, your focus should be wholly on the SAT. By having all these materials taken care of, you will be poised to perform your best.


What’s Next?

One of the biggest challenges of the SAT is performing under strict time limits. Learn the best strategies for managing your time.

The best test prep is test prep that’s customized to your individual strengths and goals. What scores are you hoping to achieve? Define your target scores by learning what’s a good score, a bad score, and an excellent score on the SAT.

When do SAT scores come out? Learn all about when you can expect your scores.


It sounds like your test is coming up, and we hope you don't have to take the SAT again. But 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:

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Rebecca Safier
About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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