(Courtesy of Noodle Pros) Don’t get stressed out or overwhelmed by the SAT. We have compiled a list of 100 tips to help you do your best come test day.
During the SAT
- Slow down and work for accuracy. Speed kills on the SAT. You don’t get points for the number of questions you answer, you get points for the number of questions you answer correctly.
- Read with your finger. Make reading physical; it’s a good way to keep your attention focused.
- Write on the test booklet. They don’t give you much during the test, but they do give you a pencil and space to work. Use both with abandon. If your hand is not moving and writing things down as you try to solve the problem on paper, you are answering questions in your head, which leads to mental stress, inefficient work, and careless mistakes.
- Don’t fall in love with answers. Wrong ones will often have elements that are tempting. Correct answers may be phrased in awkward ways even if they aren’t technically wrong. Go with the “look to hate it, not to love it” rule—if you can’t hate it, it’s probably the right answer.
- Remember that one of the answers is always correct. On a multiple choice test, they give you the answers! If you can’t find the right answer, look to eliminate some wrong ones and guess.
- Don’t waste time reading the instructions. You should familiarize yourself with them during prep and know them going in, so you don’t have to spend time on them on test day.
- Read the questions carefully. Reading errors are the most common cause of wrong answers, even on the math.
- During the test, don’t worry about your score. It is an output and a distraction. Focus on inputs, such as the way you are solving the problems. Get the inputs right and you will get the best score you can.
- Use your breaks wisely. Walk around, do jumping jacks, reset your brain. It’s easier to take two two-hour tests than one four-hour test.
- Bubble page by page. It’s more efficient and will often catch bubbling errors.
- Recognize the ascending order of difficulty. Easy questions, in the earlier part of the section, have easy answers. Hard questions, in the later part of the section, have hard answers. Easy answers to hard questions are probably wrong.
- Don’t leave blanks. There is no guessing penalty. With one minute to go, if you still have unanswered questions, stop everything you are doing and bubble in an answer to all remaining questions.
- Use process of elimination. We can’t say this enough. There are three times the number of wrong answers as there are right answers. It’s easier to find the wrong ones; eliminating them will raise your score. You should always be able to eliminate at least one wrong answer, after which you have a much higher chance of guessing correctly.
- Don’t second guess yourself. Your first answer is usually correct. A good way to track this and gain confidence is on practice tests. Notate the times that you change an answer and track the result.
- It’s all in the attitude.
- Don’t worry about neatness when bubbling answers. The precious seconds you spend shading neatly within the bubbles can be spend on the next math or verbal question.
- Don’t get stuck between two answer choices. Pick one and move on. Scratching your head is not going to make the right answer magically appear.
- Don’t attempt to answer every question. Unless you are shooting for a perfect score, you do not need every question to hit your target score. Remember that speed kills on the SAT. Of course, before time runs out, bubble in any questions you didn’t get to. There is no guessing penalty on the SAT.
- Keep your hand moving. You should always be reading with your finger or annotating the question and solving it on the paper. Constantly writing things down and moving your hand is a great way to focus your attention.
- Don’t panic. The test is hard for everyone. If it seems hard, you’re not blowing it, you’re just taking the SAT.
- If you’re a slow reader, skim the passages. You will only be tested on a small portion of the information in the passage, and you are going to go back to the passage to find evidence for every question anyway. Don’t get hung up on the details in your first read.
- Summarize paragraphs as you read them. Be an active reader. Don’t let the words go in one eye and out the other. Paraphrase as you go to ensure that you understand what you are reading.
- After you finish reading each passage, ask yourself: “What is the main idea of this passage?” You should be able to state it in 10 words or less.
- Read passage introductions carefully. They are your friend, and occasionally even sum up the main idea for you.
- Answer every question in your own words before you look at the answers. The answer choices are designed to mislead. Articulating the correct answer first will make the dumb answer choices look even dumber and the correct ones stand out.
- Find the evidence questions first. You don’t need comprehensive understanding of the passage to answer them, but answering them first will help build comprehensive understanding of the passage, which will help on other questions.
- Find proof in the passage for every answer you pick. There will always be proof. If you can’t find proof for an answer choice, cross it off. It’s wrong.
- Paraphrase the question. Often the questions aren’t actually questions. They are incomplete statements. Turn them into questions so that you can find answers.
- Leave I, II, III and EXCEPT/LEAST/NOT questions for last. They ask you to do more work (which costs more time), but they give you the same number of points as easier questions.
- Don’t over-annotate. You will only be tested on a small portion of the available information in the passage. Don’t spend time on information you don’t need.
To read the rest of the 100 Ways to Improve Your SAT Score go to: https://www.noodlepros.com/blog
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