Information on what happens on your SAT Test Day
SAT test day is held seven times per year, in January, March, May, June, October, November, and December. For most students, the test is given on Saturdays (often the first Saturday of the month). Exceptions are made for students who 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).
The registration deadline for each administration of the SAT is usually about a month 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.
A great deal of stress on test day can be alleviated by arriving at the test center with all of the necessary materials. Students are advised to pack their materials the night before the test; these include a calculator with plenty of spare batteries, a wristwatch, several no. 2 pencils with erasers, photo identification, admission ticket, and drinks and snacks. It is also important to ensure an adequate amount of sleep the night before the test, and proper nutrition is likely to have a positive effect on performance.
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 test. 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. The College Board website includes a list of acceptable brands and models, which includes most graphing calculators and scientific calculators.
Students may not share information or testing equipment with other test-takers. Cell phones, other 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 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 in to their College Board accounts and print out a new admission ticket, which will display the new testing site. 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.
Testing centers open at 7:45 am, and students must present their identification and admission ticket. Admission generally closes at 8 am, and late students will be told to arrange another test date. Seating for the test is then assigned, and the test itself commences between 8:30 and 9 am. Test supervisors read instructions before each 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 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. With an overall testing period of approximately four hours, students can expect to be finished between 12:30 and 1 pm.