The Digital SAT is coming. Get ready to ace it.

Traveling Out of State to Take the SAT

Not exactly the kind of road trip Kerouac wrote about, but…

Get your motor runnin’

Head out on the highway

Looking for adventure

In whatever comes our way

Yeah, darlin’

Gonna make it happen

Gonna drive my high school junior

To take the SAT

Wait!  Those aren’t the lyrics.  What happened to taking the world in a love embrace and being born to be wild?  Aren’t road trips supposed to be about adventure, self-discovery—even a little danger?

During the spring of 2021, as more than one million high school students found their SAT and ACT exams cancelled due to COVID-related test center closures, many parents and teenagers resorted to long road trips to take the test in a neighboring state.  Is that fair?  Even allowed?   And is there some advantage to testing out of state that students may want to consider, even post-pandemic?

The answer, like so much about college admissions these days, is complicated.

The College Board and the ACT Don’t Really Care Where You Take Their Exams…

The College Board and the ACT make students abide by many rules when it comes to testing, from detailing which calculators students are permitted to use on the math sections to glamour tips for students’ photo IDs.  However, neither organization has a policy concerning where a student can take its test.  In fact, taking the SAT or ACT out of state is common for students in boarding schools, students who live in communities that straddle state lines, and students participating in exchange programs.  Indeed, international students have to travel to a different country to take the SAT or ACT.  As far as the College Board is concerned, you can take the SAT in the South Sandwich Islands if you want to, although they will charge you an additional $43 registration fee.

…But State and Local Health Officials Might Care About Your Travel Plans

Due to ever-changing travel regulations surrounding COVID, some travel between states is still restricted or discouraged.  For example, Hawaii has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors, which means taking the test in Maui will require two weeks of sitting on a balcony, watching the ocean waves as a cool breeze blows in your hair.

The SAT and ACT’s registration deadlines add another layer of complication.  Typically, the registration deadline for each SAT and ACT is about a month before the exam date, with the late registration deadline about two and a half weeks before each exam and the deadline for changes about one and a half weeks before.  Again, since travel restrictions can change quickly, navigating these deadlines might add an unwanted layer of complexity.

Generally Speaking, Simpler Is Better for Test Day

In addition to strategies for cracking the toughest questions, we also teach strategies for making test day as stress-free as possible.  A good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast, and a distraction-free environment are all key for students to head into the test feeling calm and confident.  While it’s possible to be in the right emotional state far from home, it tends to be a lot more difficult.  Whether it’s the stress of rushing to find the testing site in an unfamiliar town or the exhaustion that comes from tossing and turning all night because the guest in the room next to yours at the La Quinta Inn wouldn’t stop snoring, for many students taking the test far from home makes it much harder to concentrate.  The goal is to expend the least amount of mental energy right before the test so that your tank is full when you pick up your No. 2 pencil.

That said, some students benefit from being away from their familiar environment.  Students who have trouble focusing when their friends are around, for example, may fare far better taking the SAT or ACT at a school where they don’t know anyone, which in many cases simply requires a mere 15-minute drive.

In the End, It’s Up to You

As with so many decisions families are faced with these days, there are no easy answers regarding where to take the SAT or ACT.  Each student must decide what environment will make them feel most comfortable on the morning of the test—a convenient site where friends and classmates are also testing, a site not too far from home but less likely to breed distraction, or a site far from home, perhaps even in a neighboring state.  And if that leads you to take the SAT in the South Sandwich Islands, say hello to the penguins for us.


1. Visit the orthodontist. 2. Watch PBS. 3. Go an entire week without rolling their eyes at their parents. 4. Watch C-SPAN. 5. Retake their AP Chem final. 6. Intern at a local CPA’s office. 7. Turn off their cell phone. 8. Mop the kitchen. 9. Clean their bathroom. 10. Renounce social media. 11. Write a 10-page history paper. 12. Get a bunch of allergy shots. 13. Wait in line at the post office. 14. Watch the Weather Channel. 15. Be abducted by aliens. 16. Attend a clarinet recital. 17. Tour a Soviet-era nuclear plant. 18. Eat a healthy and nutritious dinner. 19. Do calisthenics. 20. Bake snickerdoodle cookies for that guy who’s always loitering by his van. 21. Watch a black-and-white foreign film without subtitles. 22. Clean out the rain gutters. 23. Pretend they’re 42 and recently divorced. 24. Listen to NPR’s Weekend Edition. 25. Read a newspaper. 26. Visit the DMV. 27. Eat crispy fried tarantulas (considered a delicacy in Cambodia). 28. Serve as a “breath odor evaluator” for a toothpaste company. (Yes, this job actually exists.) 29. Go on a double date with their parents. 30. Undergo dental surgery. 31. Babysit their annoying stepbrother. 32. Empty Mr. Whisker’s litter box. 33. Take out the trash. 34. Clean the rain gutters. 35. Tell their parents they’d like to sit down to discuss the Birds n’ the Bees. 36. Stare at a blank television screen for several hours. 37. Be fitted for orthodontic headgear. 38. Organize their closet. 39. Vacuum their entire house. 40. Eat that substance their school cafeteria claims is Sloppy Joe. 41. Kiss Tucker Carlson. 42. Make origami turtles for the residents of a local nursing home. 43. Do a few hundred burpees. 44. Try Uncle Morris’s beef stew. 45. Watch Hillbilly Handfishin’ on Animal Planet. 46. Eat “bird’s nest” soup, which sounds kind of scrumptious unless you know the broth is made from bird SALIVA. 47. Set up an Facebook account for Grandma. 48. Start a backyard garden. 49. Dust home furnishings. 50. Do an exercise known as the “Bulgarian Split Squat.” 51. Help Dad trim his back hair. 52. Hunt for spare change between the sofa cushions. 53. Hunt for leftover Cheez-Its between the sofa cushions. 54. Mow the lawn. 55. Learn how to knit. 56. Research Wikipedia’s entry on the history of Q- tips. 57. Count how many times they can blink in one hour. 58. Compose a haiku. 59. Do one of the American Dental Association’s oral disease-themed jigsaw puzzles. 60. Watch televised bowling. 61. Give Grandpa a foot massage. 62. Give Grandma a foot massage. 63. Play tea party with their six-year-old stepsister. 64. Read The Red Badge of Courage. 65. Browse Burlington Coat Factory’s fall collection. 66. Floss. 67. Listen to The Scarlett Letter on audiobook. 68. Watch televised bowling. 69. Lie really, really still and pretend they’re deceased. 70. Join their twelve-year-old sister and all of her friends for a dance party!!! 71. Wash their parents’ minivan. 72. Journal about their feelings. 72. Give themselves a haircut. 73. Make homemade kombucha. 74. Learn to crochet. 75. Get a head start on their LinkedIn profile. 76. Watch a black- and-white movie marathon. 77. Visit the library. 78. Run a relay race. 79. Eat slimy san-nakji, which is considered a delicacy in Korea. 80. Eat khash, a traditional dish in Southeastern Europe that is so disgusting you’re just going to have to Google it to find out what it’s made of. 81. Eat the Swedish delicacy blodpättar, which kind of sounds like what it is. 81. Eat bat soup, a traditional dish in Micronesia. 82. Eat harkarl, rotten shark meat that is considered a delicacy in Iceland. 83. Eat the Scottish dish known as haggis. 84. Eat escamol, a Mexican dish that kind of looks like it’s made of rice but definitely isn’t. 85. Eat “Rocky Mountain Oysters,” which, despite the name, may not be from the Rocky Mountains and definitely are not oysters. 86. Wrestle an alligator. 87. Be a “professional apologizer,” a person whose actual full-time job is to apologize on behalf of other people. 88. Be an ostrich babysitter, which is apparently something people do in South Africa. 89. Ponder what life would have been like if they had been born in Kazakhstan. 90. Take a transatlantic flight on Biman Bangladesh Airlines, widely considered the worst airline in the entire world. 91. Eat fugu, a potentially lethal blowfish. 92. Do a form of running exercise known as “laps of misery.” 93. Walk the neighbor’s dog. 94. Clean their room. 95. Frolic naked through the mall. 96. Do a handstand on two fingers. 97. Do one-armed chin-ups. 98. Do a form of exercise known as a “flying human flag abdominal crunch.” 99. Watch the 2011 movie Tree of Life. (Trust us, it’s booooring.) 100. Use sock puppets to practice their future networking skills.