What to expect on test day: the testing center

We've talked about how to review as effectively as possible and how to make sure you have enough energy to do your best on test day. Now, let's talk about what you can actually expect on test day: how the check-in process works, where you’ll be seated, and what the general atmosphere in the room will be like.

There are a number of things that students are often unaware of when they walk into the test room on the day of their official SAT or ACT. What is the atmosphere like? Where should they put their belongings? What can students do to relax? Read on for the answers to those questions in the second installment of our 3-part blog series.

Checking in

In our last blog post, we stressed the importance of waking up early enough on test day to give yourself plenty of time to arrive to the test center on time. Make sure you check your admissions ticket to see what time you need to arrive at the test center. Bring your printed ticket as well as photo identification—the requirements for valid ID are written on your admissions ticket. If you do not have valid identification, you will not be allowed to take the test

Pro Tip: Bring a valid ID. If you do not have this upon entering the testing center, you will not be allowed to take the test.

When you arrive at the testing center, you should see well-marked signs telling you where to go to check in. If you have your ID and ticket, checking in should take less than a minute.

Seating arrangements

In most cases, you’ll be testing in a classroom or another large room such as a gymnasium. In order to combat cheating, most test centers assign seating and place students at desks or at the ends of long tables. Once you’re seated, take a minute to check that your calculator is working and your pencils are sharpened.

You’ll probably notice that the room is pretty quiet. You’re welcome to chat with people, but most students are feeling a little nervous, and there tends to be a feeling of tension in the room. To calm yourself down, now is a good time to mentally review the most important techniques and strategies that you’re going to want to focus on in each section.

Getting ready to begin

Eventually, the test administrator will make some announcements and guide you through filling out the first few parts of your answer sheets. While every proctor is required to read the same set of instructions that are supplied by ACT or the College Board, there have been instances of proctors giving insufficient instructions. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand to clarify anything you’re unsure of.

Once the test begins, you should be in familiar territory. The timing and content should be the same as what you’ve seen on past practice tests. After four short hours, you’ll be one step closer to your first day at college!

Need a refresher on what to do before the test? Read it here.

Then click here to find out what you can expect during and after the test.

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

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