Pro Tip: NEVER Leave an Answer Blank on the ACT/SAT

Don't leave your answers blank!

Flickr user Christopher Rogers

If your SAT or ACT exam is coming up, we’re sure you’re studying hard! By this time, you’ve heard quite a few test-taking tips regarding each of them, which may have included “never leave an answer blank”. Here is how you should approach more difficult questions and why you should never leave them blank.

Skip It At First

If a particular question is giving you too much trouble, you should skip it. You want to continue through the test and make sure you’re answering all the ones you can. You’ll find plenty of questions that don’t stump you. This will give you enough time to get through the entire section and answer all the questions you are sure of.

However, it’s important to not waste too much time on any one question. Remember your time managing skills and keep an eye on that watch.

Return to It and Give It Your Best Shot

Once you’ve completed that last question on the particular SAT or ACT section, it’s time to return to those unanswered ones. You will want to carefully read it over, rule out answers, and give it your best shot. You may even find you know the answer after you approach it with a fresh perspective.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your watch during this period. You will likely only have a few minutes left before time is called for the section, so time management is still important. Make sure you’re getting to each unanswered question.

Wrong Answers Won’t Count Against You

You may be happy to learn that wrong answers won’t count against you on either the ACT or SAT. Students will be awarded points for each correct answer with no points taken away for any incorrect ones. This is why never leaving an answer blank on your test is so important. You can only gain by taking a stab at the question. If you leave it blank, you will most certainly get it wrong.

If you find, towards the end of the section, the allotted time is getting down to the wire and you don’t have the time to get to each unanswered question, it is time to guess. However, this should be a last resort. If you can, it’s important to try, whether by looking at it with a fresh perspective, thinking about it in a different way, or eliminating answers you know are incorrect. If it’s down to the final seconds though, you’ll absolutely want to take a wild stab and guess.

Time management is an extremely important aspect of both the ACT and SAT. It’s important to learn how to approach difficult questions before you head into the exam. Skipping them at first ensures you have time for the entire section, but you will absolutely want to return to each and give them your best shot. Practice exams are a great way to prepare for these problems and proper time management.

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