Here is the second installment in my series on test taking and prep strategies for the SAT. My parents paid an arm and a leg for SAT prep, so your parents won’t have to! 😉
General Test Taking Tips
Test questions are ordered from easiest to hardest.
The test is ordered from least missed questions to most often missed questions. For the grid-in problems the difficulty resets. So as you go on from the first grid-in problem to the last grid-in problem, the questions will get progressively more challenging.
You can either focus on doing as many easy problems as possible with reasonable assurance that you got them correct.
OR, you could focus on the hardest problems first then do the easy problems because the easy problems should take less time therefore you can put them off until later when you have less time, assuming that because they are easier, they should take you less time to solve.
When in doubt, skip it! Come back to it later.
Skip problems that take you more than 2 minutes to solve.
If you see a problem you know how to solve (but will take you a long time) or have a vague idea how to solve, skip it.
If you see a problem and you don’t immediately know how to solve it, skip it.
How to Save Time
The test answers choices are generally listed from least to greatest or vice versa. If you need to fill in a value, start with one of the middle values. Then you can go up or down if that answer choice doesn’t work.
Don’t show all of your work if you don’t need to. You won’t get partial credit for showing your work. If you can do it in your head quickly and accurately then do it and bubble in the answer immediately.
Know when it’s going to be faster to plug in the various options versus solving for the correct variable.
Getting Better and Avoiding Making the Same Mistakes
Identity areas where you are the weakest and categorize your weakness into the following categories
- Silly mistake (ex. simple addition error or mixing up values)
- Knowledge based: you didn’t know how to solve that problem
- Ran out of time
Avoiding Making Silly Mistakes
- If you’re making a lot of silly mistakes, SLOW DOWN.
- This may seem counterintuitive, but you have to give you brain the time it needs to function properly. I’d recommend taking practice tests so you can get used to the stress of working under time constraints.
- Also, double check your work if you have time.
- Generally, I double check my answers before I go back to answer the really hard questions.
- If you missed the question because you didn’t understand it and/or know how to solve it, use Khan Academy to learn how to solve questions like that.
The Most Important Tip I Can Give You
All the questions on the test are weighted the exact same. One will not count for more or less than any other, so focus on the ones where you’re absolutely sure you can obtain the correct answer.
Equations to Master
You should be familiar with all the you learn in algebra 1 and 2. Some ones that you should definitely know are
- Parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting lines
- Point slope form
- Equation of a circle
- Quadratic formula
Skills To Master
- Splitting the middle
- Combing like terms
- Factoring quadratics
- Similar triangles
- Expanding polynomials
Good luck with the SAT! Always remember that the College Board is THE devil.