3 Essential SAT Tips and Strategies
After over 30 years of helping students get the scores they want on the SAT, we can tell you the most important thing to remember about the test: It doesn't measure intelligence or predict future success.
The SAT is no different. The test measures one thing, and one thing only: how good you are at taking the SAT. That makes it easy to improve your score — you don’t have to memorize your entire Algebra II textbook, you just need to learn how the SAT works. Here are three simple SAT tips from our proven test-cracking methodology.
SAT Study Tips
1. Look for wrong answers instead of right answers.
Don't know the right answer? It happens. But if you know which choices are definitely wrong, you will significantly improve your chances of getting the question right. This is called process of elimination. Since you aren't penalized for wrong answers on the SAT, you should always guess, even if this means choosing an answer at random.
Here’s how it works: Each question has 4 possible answer choices. Eliminate even one possibility, and you have a 1:3 chance of guessing correctly. Let's say there are 9 questions where you eliminate 1 choice and guess among the remaining choices. Statistically, you will guess correctly 3 times and incorrectly 6 times. You just earned 3 points!
2. Know your personal order of difficulty.
SAT questions are not arranged in order of difficulty (so that easier problems come earlier in the test than the hard ones). Instead, it’s important to identify the questions that YOU find easy or hard. Remember, you’re not scored on how many questions you do. You’re scored on how many questions you answer correctly. So slow down on the questions you personally find easy or medium difficulty so you can pick up the most points. Just make sure you guess on the rest!
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3. Own your test booklet.
You paid for that test booklet, personalize it. Scratch work is extremely important on the SAT. Don't be embarrassed about it—writing in your test booklet will help you keep your mind focused.
Mark up geometry diagrams. Keeping track of your work directly on the page will help you avoid careless mistakes.
When you use process of elimination to eliminate a wrong answer, cross it out! Don't leave it there to confuse you if you have to choose between two remaining answer choices.
When you answer a question but aren't entirely confident in your choice, circle the question or put a big question mark next to it. That way, if you have time to go back at the end of the section, you can find the question easily and quickly.