If SAT test day is around the corner, you’re probably wondering what to bring to the SAT.
In this article, we’ll go over exactly what to bring on SAT day, including what types of photo ID and calculators are acceptable, rules around electronic devices such as cell phones, and much more.
We’ll also provide an SAT test-day checklist that you can use to make sure you don’t forget anything on the big day and answer a bunch of common questions about what items are or are not allowed at the test center.
Here are the topics we’ll cover:
- What to Bring on SAT Test Day: Must Have
- What to Bring on SAT Test Day: Optional
- Items to Leave at Home
- SAT Checklist: What to Bring
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What time does the SAT start?
- What time does the SAT end?
- Is there a dress code for SAT Day?
- Can you bring a bag to the SAT?
- Can you bring your phone to the SAT?
- Can you bring a watch to the SAT?
- Can you bring water to the SAT?
- Can you use mechanical pencils on the SAT?
- Can you bring a pencil sharpener to the SAT?
- Can you bring an eraser to the SAT?
- Can you use a highlighter on the SAT?
- Should I chew gum during the SAT?
- What’s Next?
To start, let’s discuss stuff to bring to SAT day that is absolutely essential.
What to Bring on SAT Test Day: Must Have
If you’re wondering, “What do I need to bring to the SAT?,” I have some good news. The list of things you need to bring to the SAT is actually fairly short.
Here are the items you must have with you in order to be able to take your seat in the testing room:
- an up-to-date, printed SAT admission ticket
- an accepted photo ID that matches your admission ticket
- two No. 2 pencils with erasers
- an approved calculator
- a face mask (depending on your location)
Note that if you need to bring an EPIPEN, you do not need to apply for accommodations. Just be sure to bring your EPIPEN in a clear bag, such as a Ziploc. You will be able to store that bag under your desk during your SAT.
Now, let’s talk about the details of what is recommended for each of the must-have items in the list above.
Your SAT Admission Ticket
You will not be able to enter the test center without a printed, up-to-date SAT admission ticket. Test-takers can print admission tickets by signing into their online College Board accounts. You’ll find a “Print Your Admission Ticket” option in the drop-down menu under “My Upcoming Tests.
It’s best to wait until test day is near to print your ticket, rather than simply print your ticket when you register for your exam, since the location of your test center may change as your test date approaches. Additionally, if you make any changes to your registration, you’ll need to print a new ticket. So, it doesn’t make much sense to print your ticket far in advance of test day.
Note also that you cannot use an electronic form of your ticket to enter the test center. So, you can’t just show your admission ticket on your cell phone. You must present a printed ticket.
TTP PRO TIP:
Wait until test day is near to print your SAT admission ticket.
Accepted Forms of Photo ID
You will need to bring an accepted form of photo ID to enter the testing center on SAT test day. There are a few really important requirements for the photo ID that you use.
First, the ID cannot be expired.
Second, the ID cannot be a photocopy or an electronic copy. It has to be your original, physical ID.
Third, the name on the ID has to exactly match the name on your SAT admission ticket. If there is any difference between the name on your ID and the name on your admission ticket, you will not be admitted to the test center. So, for example, if the first name on your ID is “Michael” and the first name on your admission ticket is “Mike,” you will not be allowed to enter the testing center.
Acceptable forms of ID include:
- a student ID card or SAT Student ID Form from the school you currently attend
- a government-issued driver’s license or non-driver ID card
- a passport or U.S. Global Entry ID
- a government-issued military or national ID card.
Note that if you’re homeschooled and using an SAT Student ID Form for entry, that form needs to be notarized.
Also, if your ID is in very poor condition — for instance, it’s difficult to see your face in the photo or some of the text on the card is not readable — it may not be considered acceptable. So, pick a form of ID from which you are clearly and easily identifiable. (Learn more about the ID requirements for SAT test day here.)
TTP PRO TIP:
Make sure that the photo ID you bring on SAT test day is not expired, is not a photocopy or electronic copy, and exactly matches the name on your admission ticket.
Pencils, Erasers, and Sharpeners
You are allowed to bring two No. 2 pencils with erasers into the testing room with you. You will need these pencils to complete your SAT (at least until the SAT goes digital).
You could also bring a separate eraser (not attached to the pencils) with you, but doing so probably is more trouble than it’s worth. A better plan is to bring two pencils that you are comfortable using and that have reliable erasers. You will save time using a pencil’s eraser as opposed to a separate eraser.
You also could bring a pencil sharpener with you, but it’s a judgment call whether you should. Having two pencils means that you have an extra if your first pencil fails, and sharpening your pencil during the test eats up time you could be spending answering questions. Also, if all else fails, your test center should have extra No. 2 pencils with erasers on hand in the testing room.
Importantly, mechanical pencils and colored pencils are not allowed at the test center. Stick with the standard No. 2s. And of course, no pens!
You cannot use mechanical pencils or colored pencils for your SAT.
Acceptable Calculators for SAT Tests
You will of course want to have your calculator with you on SAT test day. College Board-approved calculators include all scientific calculators and most graphing calculators. All four-function calculators are acceptable as well, though College Board does not recommend using them for the SAT.
If you’d like to see whether your graphing calculator is an acceptable calculator to use, you can look for it on College Board’s list of approved calculators here.
Make sure your calculator has fresh batteries, and bring extra batteries and/or an extra calculator along with you just in case. You won’t be able to keep extra batteries or an extra calculator on your desk. But, if your calculator fails during your test, you’ll be able to ask for permission to access your backup equipment from the bag you bring into the testing room. (We’ll discuss bringing a bag to the SAT shortly.)
If your calculator fails and you don’t have backup equipment, you’ll be out of luck. The test proctor won’t have extra batteries or calculators on hand, and you won’t be able to share a calculator with another test-taker.
TTP PRO TIP:
Make sure your calculator has fresh batteries, and bring extra batteries and/or an extra calculator along with you just in case.
Face mask policies differ depending on your location. So, you should check what the current policy is at your school or SAT test center as your test day approaches. And of course, you can always bring a face mask with you just in case.
TTP PRO TIP:
Check the face mask policy at your testing location before test day, and consider bringing a face mask to your test just in case.
What to Bring on SAT Test Day: Optional
If you’re wondering, “What should I bring to the SAT, aside from what is required?,” then I again have good news for you. There isn’t much you should bring to the test center beyond the list of required things to bring to the SAT.
That said, there are a few items you may be glad to have with you on test day. We’ve already discussed some of them, most notably a backup calculator and/or extra batteries, but also a pencil sharpener and/or separate eraser. Some other items you may want to bring to the SAT are:
- a backpack or bag
- a drink and a snack
- a watch
Bringing a backpack or bag is a really good idea. We already mentioned that you can’t keep an extra calculator or extra batteries on your desk. So, you’ll want to store those in your bag.
Also, you’ll be at the test center for a while, so you’ll probably want to fuel up with a drink (bottled water, etc.) and a snack during your break. (You cannot eat or drink during the test, unless you have an accommodation to do so.) So, again, you’ll want to have a bag for storing your drink and snack.
And, of course, you may have other basic items that you’ll want to store in your bag, such as your ID, cash, house keys, or medication you need to access during your break.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to leave your bag at the front of the testing room before the start of your test. You can’t have it at your desk.
Backpacks and bags must be placed at the front of the testing room before the SAT begins.
Now, let’s talk about the last item on the list above: a watch.
What Kind of Watch Can I Bring to the SAT?
Many test-takers like to wear a watch during the SAT, so they can keep track of time without having to look up at a clock on the wall in the testing room.
If you’re one of those test-takers, be aware that there are strict rules about what type of watch you can have. Only simple digital or analog watches are allowed. So, smartwatches, fitness trackers, or any other type of electronic device (such as a phone or tablet) that includes a clock as one of its features is not allowed.
Also, you’ll need to make sure that there are no audible alarms or timers on your watch that could go off during your test.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you normally wear a smartwatch or fitness tracker, leave it at home on SAT test day.
So, we’ve covered what to bring to an SAT test, but what about items that you shouldn’t bring? Let’s discuss the items that you should not bring to the SAT.
Items to Leave at Home
Although you are allowed to bring a backpack or bag with you to the SAT, you can’t put just anything in there. There are certain items that it is safest to leave at home on SAT test day, to ensure that you have no problems entering the test center or completing your exam.
Items you should leave at home include:
- any writing implements other than the two allowed No. 2 pencils with erasers
- any papers, books, notes, notebooks, or scrap paper
- laptops, iPads or other tablets, stylus pens, wireless earbuds/headphones or other Bluetooth devices, cameras, recording devices, or music players
- any non-approved calculator or watch
- rulers, protractors, or compasses
- scissors, Swiss Army knives, pocket knives, or box cutters
- weapons or firearms of any kind
Now, you might think to yourself, “If I have, say, a notebook in my backpack at the test center, but I never take it out, I’ll be fine.” I don’t recommend taking that kind of chance.
For example, say that during your break, you open your bag to retrieve your bottle of water, and you have one of the prohibited items above in your bag. Although you have no intention of using the prohibited item during your break, the test administrator sees the item and gets the wrong impression. Suddenly, you’re in danger of having your test canceled. Is it worth risking this kind of situation? I wouldn’t!
TTP PRO TIP:
Don’t tempt fate by packing any prohibited items into the bag you’ll bring to the SAT.
Now, let’s talk about a little bit of a gray area: cell phones.
One of the most common questions high school students ask about SAT test day is, “Should I bring my phone to the SAT?”
You can bring your cell phone with you on test day. That said, there are strict guidelines around bringing mobile phones to SAT testing locations.
When you are at the testing location, your cell phone must be TURNED OFF and securely stored away in your bag at all times. Do not carry your phone in your pocket. Also, do not leave your phone on vibrate or simply turn the volume down on your ringer. Silent does not count as off. If it’s discovered that your phone is not off or your phone makes any noises, however quiet, your test may be invalidated.
In some cases, before your test begins, the test proctor may collect everyone’s phones in a bin kept at the front of the testing room, and then give back the phones after the test is finished. Your phone must still be off, even if the proctor collects it. If you’re allowed to keep your phone in their bag, at no point should you remove your phone from your bag or try to access your phone, EVEN DURING THE BREAK.
In fact, I would choose a bag or backpack for test day that allows you to store your cell phone in its own zipped compartment. That way, there will be no suspicion that you’re attempting to access your phone if you go into your bag for another item during your break.
If there is any suspicion that you’re attempting to use your phone before your test is complete, your test may be invalidated. So, it’s super-important that you follow the guidelines around bringing your cell phone with you on test day.
Other Electronic Devices
As for electronic devices other than your cell phone, such as laptops or tablets, even turned off, they are not permitted at test centers. So, you should have no electronic devices with you on test day, aside from the following:
- your turned off cell phone
- your approved calculator + optional backup
- a (non-smart) digital wristwatch, if you like
- any electronic medical device for which you’ve received an accommodation
We’ve now covered what to bring to SAT test day and what not to bring. Use the checklist below to make sure you don’t forget anything when you pack for test day!
SAT Checklist: What to Bring
Now, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about SAT test day.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What time does the SAT start?
Doors open at 7:45 a.m. at SAT test centers and close at 8 a.m. (unless your admission ticket states otherwise).
Testing starts between 8:30 and 9 a.m.
What time does the SAT end?
Generally speaking, test-takers finish the SAT around noon.
Is there a dress code for SAT Day?
There is no specific dress code for SAT day. Your best bet is to dress for comfort and bring a long-sleeve shirt, sweater, or jacket to layer on just in case the testing room is cold.
Depending on your testing location, you also may need to wear a face mask during your SAT. Check with your testing location for the latest requirements, as they vary by location. You may want to bring a face mask with you either way, just in case.
Can you bring a bag to the SAT?
Yes. You may bring a backpack or bag for your personal belongings, including a snack to have during your break. You won’t be able to keep your bag with you at your desk, however. You’ll leave it at the front of the testing room before beginning your SAT.
Can you bring your phone to the SAT?
Yes. However, when you enter the testing center, your phone should be securely stored away in your bag and turned off.
Depending on the rules at your testing location, your test proctor may collect everyone’s cell phones before the test starts and give them back after the test is complete.
Either way, until your test is complete, you cannot turn your phone on or access it at any time, even during your break.
Can you bring a watch to the SAT?
Yes, as long as it is not a smartwatch or fitness tracker. Simple digital watches and analog watches are permitted.
Can you bring water to the SAT?
Yes, but you won’t be able to drink it during your test unless you’ve received an accommodation to do so. You can bring bottled water in your bag and drink it during your break.
Can you use mechanical pencils on the SAT?
No. Using mechanical pencils is prohibited on the SAT.
Can you bring a pencil sharpener to the SAT?
You may bring a pencil sharpener if you like, but it’s best to bring two reliable, sharpened pencils, so that you can simply use your other pencil if the tip of the first one breaks.
Can you bring an eraser to the SAT?
You are allowed to bring two No. 2 pencils with erasers, plus a separate eraser if you like. However, if you bring pencils with good erasers, a separate eraser should not be necessary.
Can you use a highlighter on the SAT?
No. Using highlighters is prohibited on the SAT.
Should I chew gum during the SAT?
There are some studies that indicate that chewing gum improves test-taking performance. And some test-takers report that chewing gum helps them concentrate or calm their nerves. I think whether you should chew gum mostly comes down to personal preference. There does not appear to be any rule against chewing gum during the SAT. That said, I would certainly check with your testing location to be sure that you’re allowed to chew gum. And while it may help regular gum-chewers feel more comfortable, I wouldn’t count on it as a strategy to increase your SAT scores.
Now that you know what to bring to the SAT test, check out these last-minute tips for SAT test day.
You may also be interested in our guide to SAT testing time, which includes advice on how early to get to the test center, information about proctors’ time warnings during your exam, and more.