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Suniti's Advice Corner

What to Bring on SAT / ACT Test Day

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, May 05, 2017

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What to Bring (And Not To Bring) The Day of the SAT/ACT

Fewer things are worse than showing up at your test center and realizing that you don’t have everything you need. This checklist goes over everything that you’ll need to bring as well as things that are nice to have and things that you cannot bring.

What do I need to bring to the SAT or ACT?

Your Admission Ticket

When you register for the test online, you will receive an admission ticket in your email. This includes important information such as your name, test center, and test you’re taking. Print this out ahead of time and bring it with you to your test center. You will not be allowed in without it.

Acceptable Photo ID


Acceptable photo ID will typically be government-issued and can include your passport, driver’s license, state ID, or school issued ID’s. The name on your admission ticket must match the name on your photo ID. Just like your admission ticket, you will not be allowed in without your photo ID. 

If you are taking the test outside the United States, check with your test center. Most likely, you will need to show your passport or a valid national ID card. 

5 No. 2 Pencils with Erasers

You will only be able to complete the test in No. 2 pencil, so don’t bother bringing pens or any other types of writing utensil. Make sure that your pencils are sharpened, and have good erasers just in case you make any mistakes. Any errors need to be completely erased—otherwise your score might be affected. Bring four or five pencils so you don't waste time sharpening or asking others for spare pencils during the test. 

An Approved Calculator

You will only be able to use your approved calculator for the math sections. Any scientific calculator and most graphing calculators are acceptable. Four function calculators are also acceptable but not recommended. Only battery-operated, handheld calculators can be used. No power cords are allowed.

Approved calculator brands include:

  • Casio
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Radio Shack
  • Sharp
  • Texas Instruments

Click here for a full list of SAT approved calculator models.

Click here for a full list of ACT approved calculator models.

The following types of calculators are NOT permitted:

  • Laptops, other computers, tablets, cellphones, smartphones, or iPads
  • Models that can access the Internet and/or have Bluetooth, wireless, audio/video recording or playing, camera, or any other smartphone-like feature
  • Models that have a typewriter-like keypad, pen input, or stylus
  • Approved calculators with additional hardware features
  • Models that use electrical outlets, make noise, or have a paper tape
  • Some models with touchscreen capability (e.g. Casio ClassPad)

The possession of any non-approved devices during the test will result in your being dismissed from the test and your scores automatically being cancelled. Find out more about calculators on test day.

Nice to Have (but not required)

Watch (without an audible alarm)

Having a watch can help you keep track of the time and therefore help you pace yourself. A watch with an audible alarm is not allowed and can result in your dismissal from the test.

Extra Batteries and Backup Equipment

These can be helpful just in case something happens to your calculator and you’re not left stranded without one. Note that you’ll need permission to access them. You won’t be able to keep them on your desk during the test.

A Bag/Backpack

Bringing a bag makes it possible for you to keep organized and have everything in one place. You can also pack your bag the night before the test so you don't forget anything you really need.



There will be a couple of 5-minute breaks during the test during which you can have snacks. Snacks can be eaten outside the testing room. You will not be allowed to eat while you’re actually taking the test. The test is at least 3 hours long, so having some snacks can help sustain you. Getting enough water is also important for optimal memory, focus, and concentration.

What Not to Bring

Possession of any of the following items during the test can result in your being dismissed from the test and your scores automatically being canceled. Note that there are few exceptions in the case of test takers with disabilities, and any accommodations must be approved ahead of time by the College Board’s or ACT’s Services for Students with Disabilities.

ANY Electronic Devices

This includes cell phones, smart phones, iPods, iPads, tablets, laptops, other computers, cameras, devices that can transmit and receive audio, photo, or video, or any other texting or personal computing device. The only exception is a CD player if you’re taking an SAT Foreign Language Subject Test with Listening (only offered once a year).

Notebooks, Cheat Sheets, Scratch Paper, Books, or Pamphlets

Scratch paper and any other information you need to know will be provided to you in your test booklet. The SAT and ACT are not open-book or open-note tests. You have hopefully spent ample time preparing and have the tools you need to answer the questions.


No exceptions, even if English is not your first language. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, you should be able to figure it out from context, just as you have hopefully spent the last few months practicing.

Protractors, Compasses, or Rulers

You will not need them and you may not use them anyway. Any measurement information will be provided to you in your test booklet.

Colored Pens, Highlighters, Colored Pencils


Any writing or scratch notes you make during the test may only be done in your test booklet, and any markings in your test booklet must be done in pencil.

If you have any questions about what you can and cannot bring, please contact College Board or ACT ahead of time so that you are not taken off guard the morning of the test.

Find out what not to do the night before the night of the SAT by clicking here. 

To learn more about the ACT click here.

Find out what you should eat for breakfast the day of the test. 


Is your test coming up? Take a look at a few sample questions to prepare last minute using a TestRocker Free Trial. 


Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

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