Cell phones… how did we ever live without them? To students who have grown up enjoying the unparalleled convenience of being able to contact anyone or look up any question at any time, the prospect of going without a mobile phone seems utterly horrifying. And yet, as you sit for some of the most important tests of your high school career, your phone cannot help you. In fact, it may hurt you.
Obviously–and this should go without saying–you may not use a cell phone during an official administration of the ACT, SAT, or PSAT.
— You may not make or receive calls.
— You may not send or receive messages.
— You may not record or stream audio or video.
— You may not even use a phone in place of a calculator.
Obvious, cell phones are at the top of the list of prohibited devices for test day. In fact, the College Board requests that you leave your phone at home and not bring it to the test center. Administrators at ACT, Inc. are more reasonable in allowing cell phones into the test center. However, they suggest that “all other electronic devices, including cell phones and wearable devices, must be turned off and placed out of reach from the time you are admitted to test until you are dismissed after testing concludes.”
What happens if my phone goes off during a test?
If your phone goes off during a test, you are in trouble. The College Board leaves the door open for all manner of repercussions: “If your device makes noise, or you are seen using it at any time, including during breaks, you may be dismissed immediately, your scores can be canceled, and the device may be confiscated and its contents inspected.” Don’t expect ACT proctors to be any more lenient. The odds that you will be kicked out and your scores cancelled are very high.
Can I bring my phone anyway?
Despite the calamitous consequences of cell phone possession on test day, many teens can’t bear the thought of being without instant access to their various media streams. So, while leaving your phone at home might be the safest option, you can get through test day without incident by following some simple and practical steps:
1. Make sure your phone is turned off. Seriously, turn it off. Before you do that, set it to silent mode just in case you fail to turn it off. Even better, if your phone permits this, remove the battery.
2. Stash your phone deep in your bag or pocket. Your goal is to make your phone completely inaccessible in as evident a manner as possible. Some students go as far as sealing their phones in Ziploc bags just to show how impossible access is.
3. Stow your bag in a locker if possible. On the other hand, you may not want to leave your phone in your car, unless you hide it well.
Securing your cell phone using these steps will help assure proctors that you have no intent to use your cell phone to cheat, copy exam material, or liveblog your test experience. More importantly, you’ll be insulating yourself from temptation; both testing authorities are clear on the point that you will not be allowed to use cell phones or any electronic devices during the break. Make sure you cannot possibly check your messages or even access your phone when you are supposed to be focusing on your best possible test performance. Feel free to brag about your success on social media once the test is over!