Although patterning effects (PEs) are known to be a limiting factor of ultrafast photonic switches based on semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs), a simple approach for their evaluation in numerical simulations and experiments is missing. In this work, we experimentally investigate and verify a theoretical prediction of the pseudo random binary sequence (PRBS) length needed to capture the full impact of PEs. A wide range of SOAs and operation conditions are investigated. The very simple form of the PRBS length condition highlights the role of two parameters, i.e. the recovery time of the SOAs as well as the operation bit rate. Furthermore, a simple and effective method for probing the maximum PEs is demonstrated, which may relieve the computational effort or the experimental difficulties associated with the use of long PRBSs for the simulation or characterization of SOA-based switches. Good agrement with conventional PRBS characterization is obtained. The method is suitable for quick and systematic estimation and optimization of the switching performance.