The SAT is the key to accessing competitive schools and a major factor in determining your eligibility for many scholarships, though the test is not the absolute predictor of success in life. Know that the SAT is not a direct correlation for intelligence, so there are steps you can take to do better on it than you otherwise would. Here are four tips for acing your SAT exam.
Understand the Grading System
The SAT doesn’t base your score on how many questions you do. Instead, it is based on how many you answer correctly. Unlike other tests, the SAT doesn’t put the easiest questions first, gradually increasing the difficulty. This means that you should skip the agonizingly difficult questions you encounter and move on to the easier ones that will pop up later in the test. For the rest, you can guess, though there are ways to improve your odds of getting the right answer in those cases, as well.
Look for Wrong Answers
If you don’t know the right answer, you can still improve your odds of getting the answer right by identifying the clearly wrong answers. When you eliminate half the answers as clearly wrong and guess from the remaining half, you’ve doubled your chance of getting those answers right. If you can only eliminate one wrong answer from each question for nine questions, you’ve improved the odds of answering right by random and earned three more points. Strike out the clearly wrong answers when you realize this before analyzing the rest so that you don’t accidentally select it before moving on to the next question.
On math problems, you can try plugging the answers into the equation and working backward to determine if they’re correct. Start with the middle value since you can strategically choose one that is higher or lower from the remaining answers.
Relax the Night Before
Don’t try to cram the night before the test. Your performance will be worse than it otherwise would be if you don’t get enough sleep. Nor will you be able to remember the material well if you’re exhausted. The solution is to spend a few months before the exam studying the material as you can instead of trying to do a deep dive the night before.
Join an SAT Prep Program
Another option is signing up for a dedicated SAT prep program. You could consider getting summer SAT Prep from a reliable tutor center, especially if you find you don’t have the discipline to continually review material for the exam on your own. They’ll be able to give you a realistic preparation that will help you get prepared for actual SAT questions. They will also help you identify your weaknesses and work extensively on areas like mental math or vocabulary, so you don’t waste time reviewing what you’re good at.
Own Your Test Booklet
Your SAT booklet is yours. Don’t be afraid to mark on it. Don’t try to figure things out in your head. Show your work on math problems so that you can review it and minimize incorrect answers. If you don’t have time to figure out a math problem, circle the test question so you can quickly come back to it later after you’ve answered a few other questions.
Feel free to take notes about the main ideas in both the long and short passages of the critical reading test. You can underline the specific lines in a passage to which you keep referring.
The SAT exam results do have an impact on your college prospects, but it doesn’t determine your fate. Follow these few simple tips and you’ll increase your chances of doing better on the big day.