I scored 1480 on my first attempt to take the SAT and 1500 on the second. I described my experience in detail on my podcast: how I prepared, what to expect, and what to bring with you on the test day.
I’ll start with the last item.
Two of the most important things any SAT test-taker must bring to the test center are the SAT admission ticket and a photo ID. Having at least a couple of pre-sharpened number two pencils is vital. A soft eraser, allowed calculator, sharpener, snack, and a water bottle are nice to have, too.
Taking the SAT is one of the most important moments in the life of a college-bound kid.
Knowing that you have everything you will need can help make taking the SAT test a less stressful and terrifying challenge.
1. SAT Admission Ticket
In order to get into your designated SAT test center, you must present your SAT admission ticket. Simply put, it serves as proof that you are registered to take the SAT.
It also contains valuable information for you, including your SAT test date and test center and the proctor, too, if you have any special accommodation needs.
The best time to print your SAT admission ticket is the night before the standardized test. However, you can print it at any given time. What’s more, you can always reprint it if you damage or lose your first one.
There is nothing wrong with printing your SAT admission ticket in black and white. As a matter of fact, mine was in black and white since I had no color printer back then. Whether colored or otherwise, what’s important is that your photo is clearly visible, and all the pieces of information are there.
Keep in mind that an SAT admission ticket saved on your smartphone isn’t valid.
2. Photo ID
Besides your SAT admission ticket, there is one more very important thing you need to have with you on your SAT test date in order to be permitted to enter the SAT test center. And it’s none other than a photo ID of yours.
Just because it’s a form of identification doesn’t mean it’s valid for the SAT. Any photo ID issued by the school you are attending or the government, such as a driver’s license and a passport, are considered acceptable. If you are homeschooled, you may bring with you a SAT Student ID Form by a notary.
And since it’s a photo ID that’s required, it doesn’t come as a surprise why your photograph on your ID should closely resemble the person in the picture on your SAT admission ticket and you yourself.
3. Two Number #2 Pencils
A number one pencil is too soft. If you’re not careful, you might end up with a messy answer sheet and wasting precious time trying to erase unnecessary markings. On the other hand, a number three pencil is too hard. And if you’re not accustomed to using it, you might damage your answer sheet.
This is why a number two pencil is the perfect pencil for taking the SAT test.
You can bring as many number two pencils as you like. But make sure you bring at least two of them. When I took my SAT test, I brought with me a total of five number two pencils. Two were with me in the room, and the rest stayed in my backpack. The SAT was too important a test — I didn’t want to risk it!
Keep in mind the following important things:
- See to it that your number two pencils are all pre-sharpened.
- Mechanical pencils, ballpoint pens, highlighters and other writing materials are not allowed.
Not all number two pencils are created equal. This is especially true when it comes to the eraser on their other ends. Some number two pencil erasers can be too soft as to lack the ability to completely erase unnecessary markings. On the other hand, some can be too hard as to wreak havoc on your answer sheet.
If you are not too confident with the erasers affixed to your number two pencils, it’s a good idea to bring with you to the SAT test center an extra eraser that’s soft.
Writing all over your SAT test booklet is perfectly fine, which is what I did exactly. And there is also no need to erase them afterward. On the other hand, it’s a completely different story when it comes to the answer sheet — stray markings on your answer sheet might interfere with proper scoring.
By the way, if you erase an answer, do so completely to keep it from being mistaken for your intended answer.
5. SAT Approved Calculator
Did you know that you can answer all math questions on the SAT correctly without a calculator?
After all, these questions are meant to test mathematical reasoning abilities and problem-solving skills, not mental computing prowess.
As a matter of fact, the College Board itself says that a test-taker does not need a calculator for the SAT, and it’s to make the standardized test accessible to all income levels.
But if you want to bring a calculator with you to the SAT test center for your peace of mind during the Math section, do so — I did!
But don’t just bring any calculator with you. Make sure that the one you will use during the SAT is allowed. Basically, anything that doesn’t have access to the internet, wireless connectivity, a QWERTY keyboard, stylus, camera, audio or video recording or playback, or any noise is permitted.
Here’s an official list of allowed calculator brands and models for the SAT test according to the College Board:
|FX 1.0 series
|Algebra FX 2.0 series
|TI-83 Plus Silver
|TI-84 Plus CE
|TI-84 Plus CE Python
|TI-84 Plus Silver
|TI-84 Plus C Silver
|TI-84 Plus T
|TI-84 Plus CE-T
|TI-84 Plus CE-T Python Edition
|TI-Nspire CX II
|TI-Nspire CX II-T
|TI-Nspire CX CAS
|TI-Nspire CX II CAS
|TI-Nspire CX II-T CAS
|TI-Nspire CM-C CAS
|TI-Nspire CX-C CAS
|TI-Nspire CX II-C CAS
There are also a few other things that you may bring with you on a grand day. They are not really requirements, but it’s nice to have them around, either in the room or in your backpack in the locker.
So, the night before your SAT test, if you want, you can add the following to your list of things to bring:
6. Wristwatch (except for Apple Watch)
You don’t have all day to answer each and every SAT question. To help you budget your time wisely, wear a wristwatch — but avoid one with an audible alarm or the ability to store data, such as Apple or Samsung watch.
7. Extra Batteries or Charger for Calculator
Earlier, it was mentioned that a calculator is optional. Well, extra batteries for a calculator are optional, too. Having them around, however, can help keep the things that could go wrong to a minimum.
8. Pencil Sharpener
It’s important that you bring with you pre-sharpened number two pencils. But it doesn’t hurt to have a sharpener in your backpack so that you can sharpen your pencils during break times.
Challenging SAT questions can become more challenging to answer if your stomach is complaining. Needless to say, having a healthy snack on the SAT exam day is highly recommended.
It’s not just nutrients that your brain needs to function very well but water, too. However, since you are allowed to head to the bathroom during break times only, remember to don’t drink a lot of water.
Besides gearing up for the SAT a few months in advance, another smart thing that I did before taking the standardized test is that I made sure that I had everything with me, from my SAT admission ticket to a water bottle.
11. Face Covering
The masks are not required anymore in many places, but just in case it’s a good idea to bring one.
I am glad that I took a jacket with me because the testing center was a bit cold. The good thing about outerwear is that you can take them off if not needed.
No matter how ready you are to answer those SAT questions, it doesn’t mean anything if you are not allowed inside your designated SAT test center.
See to it that the most important things (and also optional but always nice) to have are in your backpack before you set foot outside your home, and you’re golden!
Additional SAT Resources
As I mentioned earlier, I described my experience in detail on my podcast. You can listen to it here below or subscribe to Apple podcasts (just search for “College Reality Check”).
While my score was not bad, my friend scored a whopping 1560 on her first SAT test. Neither she nor I had tutors. We both used combination of books and online practice tests.
Is there a dress code for the SAT?
When picking clothes for the SAT test, one must choose comfort over fashion. Looking good won’t result in extra points. It is a good idea to dress in layers so that the body temperature can be regulated simply by adding or removing a layer. Soft-soled shoes help keep others from being distracted.
Can you go to the bathroom during the SAT?
Test-takers are allowed to go to the bathroom during allocated break times only. The SAT test is broken into three to four sections, and there’s a bathroom break between each one. The first is 10 minutes long. The second break time is only five minutes long. The last is only two minutes long.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.