Myth: I HAVE to Answer My ACT/SAT Questions in Order

Flickr user atalou

You may have heard it said before that you have to answer your ACT or SAT questions in exact order, but did you know that’s not exactly true? In any particular section, you can absolutely jump around from question to question! Here’s a bit of myth debunking on this so called “fact:”

Skip the Toughies

Part of taking the ACT or SAT is knowing how to manage your time on each section of the test. You don’t want to run out of time and miss dozens of questions at the end of the section, after spending 10 minutes on a tough one. Instead, skip it and come back at the end when you know you have time to devote to it!

You’re under no obligation to answer each question in order (1, 2, 3, 4). Skip around and answer the ones you’re positive of and then return to those more difficult questions.

Tests Have Changed

In prior years, students taking the ACT or SAT would be penalized for wrong answers and it could cause plenty of stress. That’s no longer the case. Now, you can and should answer every question, even if you don’t know it! It’s better to have a chance of getting it correct, than leaving it blank and not having any benefits whatsoever.

Never leave a question blank and don’t panic! Approaching it correctly can improve your final score.

Return to Those Skipped Questions

Since the tests have changed, this means it is absolutely in your favor to go back to those questions and guess. You definitely want to first attempt to make an educated guess if you have time. Cross out those answers that you know are wrong and see what you have left by process of elimination.

If you don’t have time really dedicate to that particular question or you’re absolutely unsure what the correct answer is, you still want to guess! Even putting down a random letter could turn out to benefit you. Pick one that just feels right to you if nothing else, but never, ever leave a question blank!

Don’t Skip Around Sections!

While you can absolutely skip around inside a particular section, you never want to skip ahead or go backwards to other sections. This could get you in quite a bit of trouble and get you kicked out of the exam. Always stick to whatever section you’re on.

If you find yourself done with the section and there is time left, take that opprortunity to go over questions you were unsure of, confirm your educated guesses, or just review your answers. Don’t waste this time!

While you should never skip ahead to questions, don’t believe the myth that says you have to go in absolute order when it comes to the section’s questions on the SAT or ACT. You can only benefit by approaching these tests with a strategy and that is answering the ones you know first, skipping those toughies, and making your best attempt at the ones that you’re just not quite sure of.

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Hilary Cairns

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