Basic Rules To Keep In Mind When Taking The ACT / SAT

Keep these basic rules in mind when you're taking the SAT and ACT.

Flickr user Ewan McIntosh

You may be totally prepared for your ACT / SAT test in terms of the study material but the pressures of test day can make anyone a little nervous. In addition to studying for the test, it helps to know and keep these basic rules in mind during the exam.

Don’t Waste Time Struggling To Answer Difficult Questions

Time is limited when taking the ACT / SAT. The duration of the ACT is 2 hours 55 minutes. During that time you have to answer 75 English, 60 Math, 40 Reading and 40 Science questions. The SAT takes 3 hours to complete (not including the optional essay), during which you’ll answer 52 Reading, 44 Writing, and 58 Math questions.

That’s a lot. As you can see you cannot afford to take too much time over each question.

The fastest way to go through the test is to answer those easy questions first and then go back and answer the tougher questions. You’re not required to complete the questions in a certain order.

Don’t Leave Any Question Unanswered

Not sure what the right answer is? Go ahead and guess. There is no penalty for wrong answers in the ACT or SAT. Make the most of this rule and answer every question on the test paper, even if it means guessing the answers.

When you guess, chances are you will get at least some of the answers right and score marks for those. However, you cannot score marks for questions you have not answered.

Avoid Making Careless Mistakes

Don’t go through the questions so quickly that you end up making careless mistakes that could drag your score down. While you don’t want to waste too much time on each question, you must take at least a few seconds to read through and understand each question before answering it. Most of the ACT / SAT questions are designed to trip you up. The extra time you spend reading and understanding the questions is well worth it as it will increase your chances of answering correctly.

When answering practice ACT tests always take the test in conditions that replicate the actual test conditions as closely as possible. This includes setting the exact test time. This will give you a better idea of how much time you need to complete all of the questions and how much time you can afford to spend on each one.

Make Sure You Are Filling In The Correct Bubbles

All ACT / SAT answer papers are checked by a scoring computer. It does not care how you arrived at your answer. All it cares about is whether you have marked the correct bubbles. This is something else you should pay attention to while answering your practice tests. Find a system that helps you get faster and more efficient with bubbling so that you are less likely to make any mistakes during the actual test. And if you temporarily skip a question, make sure as you continue the question corresponds with the right bubble row.

Interested in seeing how your ACT / SAT score affects your acceptance odds to a certain college? Use College Raptor’s free match tool to find out!

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