Whither the watch, that once-indispensable artifact of a bygone age? Remember when you wore a watch every day? Yes, that was back before we took to carrying supercomputers in our pockets that can tell the time, temperature, and sports news in every single time zone. Now watches are relegated to mere fashion accessories…
…unless you are competing.
Once you’ve engaged in an activity where the element of time impacts performance, you need the ability to track and manage that precious resource on your own terms. For this reason, you’ll find athletes training with watches and artists performing with them. Check the wrists of top test takers, and you’ll find watches there as well.
Why do the College Board and ACT, Inc. both recommend that student wear watches to the tests?
1. The SAT and ACT are timed tests.
2. Students may not bring phones into the testing room.
3. While classrooms must have clocks, these clocks may not be conveniently located or in good working order.
4. Did we mention that these are timed tests?
Success on test day comes from actively managing those resources you can manage. You have no control over how long a section of the SAT or ACT is, but you can control how you spend your time on each section. Exceptional test prep and high-quality practice tests should allow you to determine how best to spend your time on each question, section, and the test as a whole. Actually doing so when it counts requires a watch.
What kind of watch should you wear to the test?
Students may bring any analog or digital watch they feel comfortable with, as long as these watches do not have audible alarms. ACT cautions that if your watch sounds during testing, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored.
Students may use watches with timers, but should beware overzealous proctors. Separate timers are prohibited. Unfortunately, some proctors don’t know the rules well and confiscate watches with timers. Know your rights, but don’t panic or make a scene if a proctor is determined to take your watch. Focus on your test.
The test makers prohibit any device with audio or video recording functionality. While even the finest Rolex or classic Casio calculator watch can’t record audio, the newest smart watches are expanding the concept of what phones are capable of. What this means is that if you wear a state-of-the-art smart watch to your test, don’t be surprised if a proctor confiscates it just in case.
The best watch for test day is one that displays the time in a readily apparent fashion. Many students find digital watches easier to read than analog time pieces. Go with what works for you.
Mick Jagger famously sang, “Time is on my side, yes it is.” If you’d like to be able to say the same on test day, remember your watch!