Category Archives: SAT and ACT FAQ

14 Feb 2012

Taking the SAT: What to Expect on Test Day

Getting ready for the SAT? You’re probably wondering what to expect on test day. Since I recently took an official SAT, I wanted to share my experience. We hope this information helps to calm your nerves!

Breakdown of the Test:

The SAT has 10 sections: 7 25-minute sections, 2 20-minute sections, and 1 10-minute section. The first section is always the essay, and the last section is always writing. The schedule of sections and breaks should be as follows:

Section 1 (The Essay) (25 minutes)
Section 2 (25 minutes)

5-minute break. You can leave the room to eat, drink & use the restroom.

Section 3 (25 minutes)
Section 4 (25 minutes)

1-minute break. You can stand up and stretch, but you cannot leave the room.

Section 5 (25 minutes)
Section 6 (25 minutes)

5-minute break. You can leave the room to eat, drink & use the restroom.

Section 7 (25 minutes)
Section 8 (20 minutes)
Section 9 (20 minutes)
Section 10 (Writing) (10 minutes)

What to Expect Immediately Before, During, and After the Test

— You must arrive at your test site by 8:00 am, but it is not necessary to arrive earlier. When you arrive at your test site, check-in and find out what room you will test in. Someone may tell you this, or you may be directed to locate your name & test room on a posted list. Following this, you will stand on line while test officials check each student’s admission ticket and photo ID.

Tip: Read a newspaper article or look over your essay source notes while you wait on line. This will help you ready your mind for the essay, which always comes first.

— Once your admission ticket and photo ID have been checked, head to your test room. You may be assigned a seat, or you may be allowed to choose. If you’re allowed to choose, try to get a seat in front and where the clock is clearly visible.

— Expect some time to pass before the test actually starts. Your proctor will likely wait 15-30 minutes for all testers to arrive before double checking photo IDs.
Following this, you will bubble in the required information on the answer sheet as a class.

— Do NOT rush ahead. Getting scolded for filling in your address too soon will only spike distracting emotions, like stress and shame.

— Make sure your cell phone is turned OFF. Better yet, leave your cell  phone at home or in the car. Proctors are required  to enforce a zero tolerance policy on cell phones, which calls for score cancellation if your phone rings or if you are caught using it. You may NOT turn your phone on during breaks and you cannot use it as your timer.

— During the test, proctors are supposed to write the start and stop time for each section on the board. Some proctors will announce when 5 minutes are left in each section, but they are not required to do so. Best bet is to bring a (silent) watch and keep time, yourself. Occasionally, your proctor will circle the room to make sure everyone is working on the correct section.

— Try not to get restless during the final, 10-minute section. Even if you finish this section early, you will still need to wait until time is up before you can leave. Rumor has it, some proctors will begin collecting completed tests before time is called. If this happens, try not to feel pressured or distracted if you are still working.

Testing should end between 12:30 – 1 pm. Sentia officially recommends you go out for lunch or treat yourself to some well-deserved R&R. Congratulate yourself–you’ve just completed a major milestone on the pathway to college & beyond!