What to Bring to SAT? | Guide to What You Should and Shouldn’t Take to the Test

If you are about to take the SAT, you may feel a variety of emotions. Whether you’re anxious, nervous, afraid, or all of the above, being properly prepared can reduce your jitters and help make all the difference in your performance on test day. Sure, studying and taking practice tests is the most important preparation. But it’s also vital to know what to bring to SAT day. This will ensure that your test goes smoothly and that you don’t forget anything. My goal here is to teach you what is OK to bring, and what you should leave at home. 

What to Bring to SAT - Learn What You Can or Cannot Take With You 

Knowing what to bring to the SAT is just as necessary as studying. After all, you don’t want to arrive for the test and not have what you need to make it through the day. 

Without food and hydration, for example, you run the risk of frying your brain early on and fizzling out later in the test. Thankfully, I’ve put together a handy SAT checklist to make your life easier. 

In the following sections, I’ll be discussing everything that is needed to ensure that you are able to take your test without any complications.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, make your own SAT test day checklist consisting of the allowable items. Gather up what you can and keep these items in a backpack so that they are ready to go on the day of the test.

Being well-prepared is half of the battle. With the right planning and preparation, you can look forward to having the confidence you need for a successful exam.

It’s a good idea to brush up on the test with prep books for the SAT. I have found this literature to be a huge help with acing the SAT. They are so helpful, in fact, that tutors use them to assist students who are gearing up for the big exam.

Moreover, there have been plenty of students who scored within the 95th percentile after using these books. That alone should speak volumes as to how important and beneficial the information is that these books contain. 

Plenty of students have used these books after failing the SAT the first time around. Upon their second taking of the test, the prep books helped them see a score increase by as much as 400 points!

Whether you are taking the SAT for the first time or you’re retaking it, you should get in as much practice and schooling as you can stand. 

If you’re really serious about doing the very best that you possibly can, there are some proven SAT preparation courses available that will help you achieve the score you want. 

As a brief aside, I have to mention the validity of these courses. Many of them are run by people who scored in the 99th percentile. This is exactly the kind of teaching you want to better prepare yourself for the SAT. 

Some of the costs for the courses are admittedly expensive, but you can’t put a price on success. These courses have such high success rates as it is, so you can trust that you’re getting well-educated material.

If you want to take a prep course for a spin, many of them offer free trials. This gives you a chance to see if one is right for you.

Let’s begin by looking at what to bring for SAT test day.

What to Bring on SAT Day:

The 4 Essentials

Aside from the secondary items that I’m going to share with you in a moment, there are 4 essential ones that you don’t want to be without. 

While you can do without the secondary items, the 4 essentials are, well, essential. Without them, you will be up a proverbial creek and will either have a very difficult time taking the SAT or you won’t be able to take it at all! 

These are things that you should go ahead and put in your backpack early on so that there are no surprises on test day.

#1: Admission Ticket 

The SAT admission ticket will have to be printed out and ready to bring with you on the day of the exam. It’s important to note that no other versions of the ticket will be accepted. 

Students have tried presenting digital copies or pictures on their smartphones. This won’t work, so make sure that you have it printed and in your SAT-ready backpack prior to test day. 

If, however, you registered online, you can find your printable admission ticket by logging into your College Board account. 

If you registered via traditional snail mail with an email address, your admission ticket will be emailed to you. Once received, you can print it out from there. 

If you don’t have an email address and registered by regular mail, your ticket will be mailed directly to the physical address that you provided. Obviously, you don’t have to worry about printing out anything. Just put the admission ticket in your pack along with the rest of the essentials.

#2: Photo ID

When registering for the SAT, you will need to provide a picture of yourself by uploading it to the College Board’s database. This is done so that you can be identified on test day.

To ensure that it’s really you taking the exam, you will need to bring a photo ID with you on the day of the test. To ensure that there are no snafus, you want the picture you upload to closely resemble the one on your photo ID.

Furthermore, you want to closely resemble the picture on your photo ID. This may sound silly, but students have actually caused unnecessary headaches for themselves by radically altering their appearance prior to test day.

To ensure that you are easy to identify, don’t dye your hair, shave your head, or do anything else that could potentially make it hard to tell that you are really you!

Need to know what constitutes an acceptable photo ID? I’ve got you covered there, too. The following are the types of documentation that you can bring with you:

  • State/National ID card
  • Driver’s license
  • School ID
  • Passport

It’s important to note that expired IDs will not be accepted, so make sure you’re up-to-date. If you don’t have a photo ID of any kind, all is not lost. You’ll just need to have a Student ID form filled out by either a notary or your school. 

This form will let you affix a photo of yourself so that you are identifiable on the day of the SAT. If you have to use the Student ID form, be sure that you have it completed well before test day.

As I mentioned earlier, not having the 4 essentials will either make test day very difficult or prevent you from taking the SAT altogether. The admission ticket and photo ID are the items that are needed to allow you to take the SAT.

The last 2 essentials will simply make taking the test really hard if you don’t have. So be sure to toss these in your backpack early on to avoid any potential headaches on the day of the test.

#3: At Least Two Pencils and an Eraser

Since #2 pencils are the only allowable writing tools used on the SAT, you want to make sure you bring more than one with you. At least 2 will do, but it certainly can’t hurt to have more on hand.

Many students have asked, “Can you use mechanical pencils on the SAT?” While I prefer using these types of pencils, too, they are unfortunately not allowed to be used on the SAT. 

While it’s likely that a pencil will be available, you don’t want to make the mistake of not having one just in case there aren’t any extra. The only mistake you want to make on test day is on your exam.

And for that, you want a good eraser to have handy. If your pencils have erasers on them, you’re in good shape. If not, bring a quality eraser with you to ensure that you can easily fix any errors along the way.

#4: An Acceptable Calculator

Having an acceptable calculator for SAT day will help you exponentially. It’s important to note that you won’t be allowed to share a calculator with a friend, nor will one be provided to you.

So, you’re likely asking yourself, “What kind of calculator do I need for the SAT?” First of all, you want to make sure that the calculator is battery-powered (no cords are permitted) and not a basic 4-function model.

While this type is technically permitted, using one will put you at a huge disadvantage to the point where it’s more of a hindrance than a help. 

While you may use just about any graphing calculator, it’s a good idea to check the College Board’s chart to make sure it’s acceptable.

If you’re using a scientific calculator, you’re in great shape. All of these types of calculators are permitted and will likely yield the best results on the test.

And while rare, there are calculators that have internet-accessing capabilities. If you’re the owner of one of these unique gizmos, as per the SAT calculator policy, you will not be permitted to use it during testing. 

I should mention that your calculator needs to be a standalone unit. This means that even if you have a killer calculator app on your smartphone or watch, you won’t be able to use it.

Alright, now that you know what calculators are allowed on the SAT, let’s look at some other helpful things you might want to consider bringing with you. 

Other Items You Might Want to Bring to the SAT

With the 4 essentials out of the way, it’s time to explore other “SAT what to bring” items. As I mentioned, these are not necessary to take the test. But they are sure to make test day more enjoyable.

a person ready for the test


Keeping track of time is a big deal when taking the SAT, so it stands to reason to equip yourself with a watch. Most testing centers should have a clock visible, but it’s good to be prepared just in case yours doesn’t. And while you will be alerted throughout the SAT, it’s nice to know exactly where you stand at all times.

As you may have surmised by now, you won’t be able to wear a smartwatch, as it could be used for cheating. You also want to make sure that the watch doesn’t make noise. Just bring something simple that only tells time.


You never know how cold it’s going to be at your test center. Being too cold can really put a damper on your test-taking abilities. By packing a sweater, you can avoid the chills and take the SAT comfortably.


No matter how well you trust your calculator, you don’t want to risk it dying on you mid-exam. Toss some spare batteries in your bag so that you have some backup if needed.

Food & Drinks

It’s important to be sufficiently fueled for the SAT. You can’t eat or drink while the test is in progress, but you do get breaks. Take advantage of them by recharging your brain with good food and hydrating drinks.

What NOT to Bring to the SAT

Knowing what to bring to SAT day will serve you well and ensure that you do your very best. But it’s also a good idea to know what not to bring with you. 

This will help you avoid accidentally packing something that’s just going to take up room in your bag or backpack.

Electronic Devices

Other than a basic watch, you won’t be allowed to bring a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or any other electronic gadgets or gizmos. It’s quite serious if you’re caught using anything other than an SAT approved calculator – even on breaks. 

You will be told to leave immediately, and your scores are likely to be canceled. Yeah, it’s a big deal.

Alternative Writing Tools

There’s no reason to bring anything other than #2 pencils. No pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, markers, or crayons are allowed. This includes tools like protractors, encyclopedias, rulers, etc. 

By sticking to the rules and bringing only the items listed above, you can look forward to a hassle-free exam day.

Leonard Haggin

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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