When to Change Your Answer on the ACT / SAT (And When Not To)

In a perfect world, you would never second guess your answers, especially on the SAT or ACT.

Flickr user Rachel.Adams

In an ideal world, you’d never second guess your answers. It’s a great feeling when you bubble in your answer and you know, for sure, you’re right. However, it doesn’t feel as great when you’re not certain, when you’re flipping-flopping between A or C, or you think question 43 might be wrong—maybe.

That uncertainty can hold you back, both in terms of timing and scoring. So let’s go over a few strategies to keep in mind when you second guess yourself.

Trust Your Instincts?

Some argue that you should stick to your first answer because, subconsciously, you made the right decision. This myth can stop many students from taking a closer look at their choices. Don’t just write off an answer with “I went with my gut, and that’s that.”

This myth has been scientifically busted. One survey of 33 studies found that most answer-changers go from wrong to right and that students who change their answers typically score higher overall. In this case, listen to your critical thinking over your instincts.

Helpful Context Clues

Sometimes reading other questions or passages can help jog your memory, and help you with a previous question you were stuck on. This is referred to as context clues. If you’re waffling on an answer, mark it on your sheet and keep going. You can always come back later, potentially with additional information that can help you determine the right choice.

Check out how your ACT / SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

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