How to Get Through a Difficult SAT/ ACT Question

Don't know the answer to a question on the SAT or ACT?

Flickr user Kendra

Every single student has experienced this at some point or another. You look down at a question in dread, your mind draws a blank, and you start to sweat knowing you’re wasting precious time. If you don’t know the answer to a question, your thoughts and momentum derail. Here’s how to keep on track during the test when you don’t know the answer.

Skip It and Come Back Later

Time is limited on these tests, and so trying to puzzle out a particularly hard question can hurt you in the long run. Instead, if you can’t figure out the answer after a while, just skip it. Mark it on your booklet and move on—you’ve got other questions that require your time and attention.

Once you’ve finished the section, use your extra time to go back to any unanswered question and try to figure them out.

Guess the Answer

If you still can’t find the answer, bubble in a guess. Never, ever leave a question blank—you won’t be penalized for wrong answers, you just won’t gain additional points. It’s multiple-choice, so you’ve got a decent chance at guessing the right answer anyway.

With the New SAT test, guessing is now recommended as there is no longer a penalty for incorrect answers.

Take a Breath

ACT/SAT testing is a stressful affair, even for the most academic of students. There’s a lot riding on your scores, and that can add pressure. So if you come across a question that stumps you, it can be easy to psych yourself out.

Instead, if you feel that stress rising, taking a few seconds to breathe, close your eyes, and reset. Clearing your mind might make the answer easier to find. Otherwise, follow the previous two tips and keep going.

Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see how your ACT/SAT score affects your acceptance odds!

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