Taking any test is stressful and when it comes to taking the SAT, three major factors contribute to a spike in stress levels.
Firstly, the exams are designed to really test you (pun intended).
Secondly, the thought that aspects of your future rest on the results can be daunting. Some colleges use the SAT scores as an important marker when assessing applications.
Lastly, preparing for and answering the SAT is completing different from preparing for and answering any other test, which means you have to put aside your usual prep techniques and embrace completely new strategies.
Fortunately, you can go on to do well in the test with some careful preparation. We’ve put together 10 useful SAT test taking tips that will help you ace it.
Tip #1: Use The Process of Elimination
This is one of the most important rules to remember. In the SAT test, every question has only ONE correct answer. There can never be two correct answers. If you do not know the correct answer, start by eliminating the improbable options based on your knowledge. Every incorrect choice is wrong for a reason, and if you know your subject, it isn’t that hard to identify them. When you eliminate the wrong answers, the last one left will be the right one.
Tip #2: Take Timed Practice Tests
This is probably among the most important thing you can do other than studying. Write practice exams while enforcing strict timelines and try to simulate the test environment as much as you can. While you can’t actually recreate the intensity and nerves you feel while taking a real SAT, you can get pretty close. These mock exams help you understand how to manage your time and get acquainted with the various types of questions you can expect to see in the exam.
They also help you identify your shortcomings and so you can work on them for your actual exam.
Tip #3: Understand Your Mistakes And Learn From Them
This step is possible only if you perform the earlier mentioned exercise honestly. When you answer timed mock tests, you are bound to make mistakes. Try to identify why these mistakes occurred. Most will fall under one or more of these four categories:
- You lack subject knowledge
- You’ve run out of time
- You are struggling to comprehend certain concepts
- Careless oversight
After you’ve answered a few practice tests and cataloged your errors in these categories, you will have a better understanding of where you make the most errors.
Tip #4: Read Strategically
Clearing your SAT with good scores requires excellent comprehension as well. For this, it is important to read and understand the passages properly. The easiest way to do this is to skim the passage first. This helps you get a general idea of what it is about and you get the main gist of it without wasting too much time. This also helps you answer the main idea questions when the overall message of the passage is clear and fresh.
If there are questions that require more details, you can always go back to the passage and answer them. This way you don’t waste your time on unnecessary details that are not included in the questions.
Tip #5: Learn To Identify Connotation and Context
This is an extension of the previous step. Once you learn to skim through the passages, learn to identify words like ‘however’, ‘rather than’, ‘except’ etc. and other strong adjectives, which helps establish a negative connotation or context. The presence of these words can drastically alter the meaning of the next sentence, which, if read in isolation can present a different picture entirely.
This is a great skill to have while answering the reading section and can single-handedly help you eliminate the most incorrect options.
Tip #6: Don’t Ignore Passage Introductions
Some people have a tendency to ignore the italicized sentences before the reading passage. These introductions contain important information about the setting or the context of the passage which can help save valuable time in understanding the passage and answering questions. It is always better to spend a couple of seconds on this rather than going through the entire process once again when you realize that you are missing some information at the end of the passage.
Tip #7: Always Fill Content Gaps
No matter how many tips you utilize to improve your comprehension and speed up your work, if you lack subject knowledge, you may never see any major improvement. This is especially true when it comes to Math.
Try and identify the areas you have issues dealing with and focus on clearing up your concepts and learning these topics. Once this is done, you can focus on practicing your speed and comprehension.
Tip #8: Mark Key Points in Questions
Sometimes, the questions in your SAT can have multiple subsections or even convoluted questions spanning several lines. Make it a point to highlight which value you need to solve for, or any part of the question which indicates what you need to find. This helps you keep track of the process and ensures that you don’t waste time-solving for the wrong value or repeatedly having to read a large question to understand it.
Tip #9: Commit Formulas To Memory
This might seem unnecessary since the math section provides you with a list of formulas. However, imagine the amount of time you would waste if you constantly need to turn back to that page and search for the relevant formula you need to solve a simple question. And if the formula is a longer one, you just need to keep going back constantly. One way to save time is by memorizing formulas.
Tip #10: Think Before You Write
In the writing section, you are asked to analyze arguments presented in a passage and base your essay based on that. The motive of this is to see if you can grasp the points presented therein and clearly explain how the argument was built. Of the fifty minutes you are given for this, you should be spending about 15 minutes on understanding this aspect and outlining your essay.
Also, make it a point to use specific evidence which helps to prove your point by using direct quotes. This shows that you are actually basing your arguments on the presented facts and not your own opinions.
Interested to see how your SAT score affects your acceptance odds to any 4-year college in the US? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool today!