When it comes to taking tests, you want to give yourself the best chance that you can. This means a lot of studying and knowing your facts. But there will be times when you don’t know something, or you can’t remember all the elements. Times like these call for educated guesses.

Benefits of the Process of Elimination

The process of elimination can help you make the most informed guess possible. Even if you eliminate only one out of four possible answers, you have upped your chance at a successful guess. The odds are better with a 1-in-3 chance than 1-in-4. This is useful for both the ACT and the SAT now that the SAT no longer penalizes you for incorrect answers.

How to Use the Process of Elimination

Part of elimination comes from understanding what the test question is asking and being able to form at least a partial answer before looking at your options. These tests are often designed to “trick” you; there is the correct answer, and one that is similar to it in most cases, particularly within the vocabulary section. But if you have an idea of what the answer should be, go ahead and make a note of it before you look at the options given. That will help you eliminate obvious wrong answers.

Another thing to look out for is taking a gamble on a concept or word that you don’t know. Just because you don’t know it doesn’t mean it’s correct. Look back at what you do understand and make your best guess from there. If nothing else seems to fit, then take your gamble with confidence. However, if it’s a tie between something you do know and something you don’t, go with what you know.

You can even eliminate answers within Math and Science portions. Pay close attention to the signs and symbols represented in the question. For example, if you know the answer is the volume of something, look for answers that are cubed. You can try replacing variables with numbers to see what happens, too.

Most important is to practice these elimination strategies and familiarize yourself with the test. You need to use what skills work for you within the time constraints of any given portion of the test. Eliminating wrong answers can only help you get closer to the correct one.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!