SAT Prep – Test Day

SAT Test Day

The SAT is offered seven times per year, in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. For most students, the test is given on Saturdays (often the first Saturday of the month). Exceptions are made for the following reasons:

  • Students have religious objections to taking the test on a Saturday. In those cases, the SAT will be offered on the Sunday immediately following the official Saturday test dates (documentation from a house of worship must be provided).

  • Students with disabilities who are receiving certain accommodations on the SAT may be required to take the test on a weekday during the school week.

The registration deadline for each administration of the SAT is usually a month or so before test day, although late registration is available online, by phone, or by mail. Late registration deadlines are usually about ten days prior to the test date. Photo identification and an admission ticket must be presented when students arrive at the testing center. Additional requirements may apply to students taking the SAT outside of the United States. The College Board website lists all country-specific policies with respect to available test dates, acceptable identification, and other registration issues, and should be referred to frequently.

Arriving Prepared on Test Day

A great deal of stress on test day can be alleviated by arriving at the test center with all of the necessary materials. Beginning in 2023 for international students and 2024 for students in the United States, the SAT will transition from a paper-and-pencil test to a digital test completed via computer.

Those taking the paper-and-pencil version of the exam should consider bringing:

  • An approved calculator with plenty of spare batteries

  • A wristwatch (with any audible alarms set to silent mode)

  • Several No. 2 pencils with erasers

  • Snacks and drinks

Those students taking the digital version of the test will have the option to bring their own calculator or use the calculator embedded directly into the test. While these students will not need to bring their own calculator or No. 2 pencils, they may still wish to consider bringing:

  • A wristwatch (with any audible alarms set to silent mode)

  • Snacks and drinks

Regardless of whether a student is completing the paper-and-pencil version of the SAT or the digital version, he or she will be required to bring the following:

  • Photo identification

  • Proof of test registration

Students are advised to pack their materials the night before the test to ensure they are not searching for items the next morning and putting themselves at risk of being late to the testing center. It is also important for students to ensure an adequate amount of sleep the night before the test. While some students may feel too anxious to eat a large breakfast the morning of the test, proper nutrition is important and likely to have a positive effect on performance.

Items Allowed at the Test Center

Students may bring a backpack into the test center, but it must be stored under a desk while taking the test. Permitted items include a calculator, calculator batteries, no. 2 pencils with erasers, a watch with no audible alarm, and drinks and snacks. Food and drink may be consumed only during breaks and are not allowed while taking the test. Calculators may be used only during the calculator portion of the Math Test and must be stored away while taking all other sections of the SAT. Students should ensure ahead of time that their calculators meet the College Board's criteria for approval. Approved calculators must be stand-alone devices without internet access, typewriter keypads, stylus input, camera function, or external power sources. A list of acceptable calculator brands and models, which includes most graphing calculators and scientific calculators, can be found on the College Board website.

Test Center Rules and Regulations

Students may not share information or testing equipment with other test-takers. Cell phones, electronic devices (aside from calculators), and textbooks are prohibited while taking the test. Students are not allowed to leave the test center building before the end of the test's administration, and specific areas are designated for breaks during the test. Violations of test center policies generally result in dismissal and cancellation of scores.

Test Center Closings

Test centers sometimes close due to unforeseen circumstances, such as inclement weather, general emergencies, power outages, or other unusual situations. In these cases, the College Board website will refer students to another testing site if time permits. In the event of a test center closing as a result of a last-minute issue, the College Board will arrange a makeup test date as quickly as possible, and if necessary, provide an alternate location. Students who are affected by a change in test location must sign into their College Board accounts and print out a new admission ticket, which will display the new testing site information. Students who have been waitlisted for a specific test date are not eligible for makeup tests and must sign up for a new test date.

Test Day Chronology

Testing centers open at 7:45 am, and at this time students must present their identification and admission ticket. Admission generally closes at 8 am, and late students will not be admitted, instead forced to register for another testing date. Seating for the test is then assigned, and the test itself commences between 8:30 and 9 am. Test supervisors or proctors read instructions out loud before each SAT section begins. Test-takers are told when to start and stop each section. They must work on the indicated section only and may not skip ahead even if they finish early. Students will receive two breaks (one that lasts for ten minutes and one of five minutes' duration). Test proctors will collect all materials at the conclusion of the test.

For those students taking the pencil-and-paper version of the SAT, they can expect an overall testing period of approximately four hours, allowing them to be finished between 12:30 and 1pm. When the SAT transitions to digital format, the test will change from being a little over three hours in length (not including breaks) to approximately two hours in length, making the overall testing experience significantly shorter.

Fill out Info Request