Time Keeping Strategies For The ACT And SAT

Flickr user Claire Thompson

The ACT and SAT questions are challenging by themselves. Add to it the limited time that you get to answer all the questions and these tests become even more challenging. Knowing how to strategize and get the most out of your time in the exam plays an important role in your overall score in the ACT and SAT.

Here are a few timekeeping strategies for the ACT and SAT:

Don’t Know The Answer? Move On To The Next Question

Students approach the questions sequentially. That’s only natural. (Though you don’t have to) However, when you do that, if you are stuck on a particularly difficult problem, you could end up spending far too much time on it. That is time that could have been better spent answering 10 or more other questions. The time spent on trying to solve that one question could leave you with no time to answer the questions you do know, causing you to lose points unnecessarily.

The best way to approach the test is to first go ahead and answer all of those easy question first. Then go back and answer the tougher ones. This way you minimize the loss of points due to lack of time. (And remember: never leave a bubble blank, even if you have to guess). 

Read the Questions First & Skim

Why read the questions first? Because then you know what to look for. You don’t need to rely on memory alone, which can be iffy given the stress and time pressure. Instead, going into the passage knowing what to look for can help you skip over the unnecessary parts of the passage and save you precious time.

If reading questions first doesn’t work for you: skim the passage once, to understand what the passage is about. Now, you have a fair idea of how things stand with the passage. This allows you to answer the straightforward questions easily. Now, for the remaining questions, you will know which parts of the passage are relevant and will be able to answer the questions much faster. This saves you a lot of time and ensures that you don’t second guess yourself every time.

Taking Practice Tests is a Great Time Keeping Strategy

Practice makes perfect, they say. The best way to score well on ACTs and SATs (and improve your time) is to familiarize yourself with the different types of questions that can appear in your exam.

Several question formats are quite complex and can require some time to understand and solve. However, if you have solved such questions before, you will have an easier time understanding what the questions require from you and how you can approach and solve them in the least possible time.

Taking practice tests in a systematic and timed environment will give you a good idea of how much time you require to answer each section. This will help you allocate your time wisely when you are answering the real test.

Wait to Bubble In Your Answer

“Wait” and “time management” seem contradictory, don’t they? But hear us out. You can mark up your test booklet all you want—and you should—so save time by circling your answer in your booklet and moving on to the next question. Once you’ve circled all your answers, bubble them in on your answer sheet. This little strategy can help you save more time than you’d think.

Wear a Watch

Sure, you’ve got a clock in the room, but glancing up at it just wastes time and can make you more nervous. Instead, wear a wrist watch so you can more closely monitor the time. And make sure you wear one during practice tests too so you’re familiar with the pacing. (Just make sure the watch doesn’t beep or you could get in trouble).

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College Raptor Staff

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