Ten Tips for Taking the SAT
Prepare for the SAT.
The SAT website offers free test-prep material. Answers Imagined uses animation to show how to find answers to tough problems. Skills Insight gives you practice questions for the test, level of difficulty, and skill to study of your choice. It’s like having your own personal tutor!
Be a clock watcher.
Keeping track of your remaining test time is important. Pace yourself. Don’t spend so much time on one question that the test is over before you get to the other questions.
Pay attention to your breathing.
Breathing deeply gives the brain more oxygen, making it more alert. Slowly inhale air through your nose. You should feel your stomach rise, but your chest should move only a little. Hold your breath for four seconds and then let it out through your mouth. You will feel more awake.
Read directions and questions carefully.
Many errors are made on tests because test takers do not read carefully. The reading passages contain the answers. You never have to “pull an answer from your head.” You just have to read carefully enough to find the correct answers in the passages.
Work on easy questions first.
Sometimes you can just read a question and know the correct answer immediately. Those short, easy questions are the ones you want to complete first. Fortunately, the SAT questions move from easy to harder in every subsection except critical reading. Knock out as many easy questions as you can before spending time on the harder ones.
Skip questions you don't know.
You may encounter questions that throw you for a loop. Rather than feel discouraged, just give yourself permission to skip them. Don’t waste time on a problem question when you could knock out several others. Do mark all the questions you skip so you can come back to them if you have time. Just make sure you mark the test booklet, not the answer sheet.
Cross out obviously wrong answers.
On multiple choice questions, mark out the answers you “know” are wrong. Your job of finding the correct answer is so much easier when you’re choosing from that smaller group of options.
Take advantage of information that's provided.
When you get to the critical reading subsection, pay attention to the line numbers in the questions. Those same numbers are beside the lines in the passage. The SAT site says to read the passage first, but some do better when they read the question first and then the passage. And don’t worry about memorizing formulas for the geometry subsection. They’re written on the test booklet.
Write out problems on the test booklet.
On the math subsections, use the test booklet as scratch paper to calculate answers or draw the geometrical problems. Often the answer seems to stand out when you convert the words in the test to your own drawing.
Always check your answers and the answer sheet.
Make sure that you’re matching the numbers of the questions in the test booklet with the numbers on the answer sheet, especially when you skip a question. Filling in a bubble on the wrong row is easy to do; straightening out an error near the end of a subsection is not so easy. Check frequently.