What to Expect on Test Day

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All test centers follow the same procedures and rules, which you should get familiar with before test day.

Important:

SAT Essay

If you’re unsure about taking the SAT Essay, you may be able to remove or add it on test day with your supervisor's permission — if test materials, rooms, and staff are available. If you‘re able to switch on test day, there may be fees (or even a refund). Learn about Changing Your Registration Information.

Doors Open 7:45 a.m.

All test centers open at 7:45 a.m. and doors close at 8 a.m., unless otherwise noted on your Admission Ticket. You cannot be admitted once testing has started. If you’re late or absent on test day, you can reschedule. We recommend rescheduling as opposed to re-registering — it will cost less. Find out more at Changing Your Registration Information.

Make sure you show up with everything you need.

Get the test day checklist.

Testing Starts Between 8:30 and 9 a.m.

Your seat is assigned, not chosen by you. Wait to be seated. Here’s what will happen next:

  • The test supervisor will read all instructions verbatim from a manual and can answer questions only about procedure, not about test questions or content.
  • The test supervisor will tell you when to start and stop working on each section.
  • You must work within each section of the test only for the time allotted.
  • You may not go back to a section once that section has ended.
  • You may not go ahead to a new section if you finish a section early.
  • Do not skip sections. Doing so may result in score cancellation, delays, or both.
  • After the test is finished, the test supervisor will collect and count the test books to make sure all materials have been turned in before dismissing you from the testing room.

Don’t be surprised if your test experience isn’t exactly like the other students’. Your test book may have a different order of sections than those of the students sitting next to you. For example, your second section may have math questions, while your neighbors' books may have reading or writing and language questions.

Breaks

For most students, there is one 10-minute and one five-minute break during the test, the only times you can eat and drink.

  • Keep your ID and Admission Ticket with you at all times. They’ll be checked every time you enter the testing room.
  • Test books, answer sheets, and calculators must remain on your desk during breaks.
  • You can’t use this time to power up devices, like cell phones — if you do, your scores will be canceled.

Devices

We mention cell phones and electronics often, and for good reason. Your scores will be canceled if you don’t follow the rules around devices.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Test administration staff reserves the right to collect and hold cell phones and other prohibited electronic devices during the test administration, including during break periods.
  • If your device makes noise, or if you are seen using it, or if you attempt to access it at any time, including breaks, you will be dismissed immediately, your scores can be canceled, and the device may be confiscated.
  • The College Board is not responsible for loss or damage to personal items, including electronic devices, while you are in the test center.

Get the details on the College Board’s phone and electronic device policy.