SAT Study Guide: Free SAT Preparation Tips
To get a high score, one needs to do more than just
develop strong math and verbal skills; one needs to work smart by making
good strategic choices while working through the test. Here are some
tips to help maximize test scores.
- Know The Format. The test makers go to
great lengths to make sure that every PSAT and SAT I contains the same
question types, testing the same range of math and verbal skills.
Take advantage of this fact by getting familiar with the questions
that appear on the test and practice answering them.
- Learn The Directions. Use every second
during the test to answer questions and get points. Don't waste
time on test day reading the directions. Pick up a student guide and
get familiar with the directions before the test.
- Predict The
Answer. On the PSAT and SAT I, the surest way to avoid
falling for traps on test day is to predict the answer before looking
at the answer choices. For example, if answering an SAT Sentence
Completion, don't just jump into the answer choices to see which one
fits; read the sentence, predict the missing work and scan the answer
choices to see which one fits.
- Use the Order Of
Difficulty. On the PSAT and SAT I, often the Math and Sentence
Completion questions are arranged in order of difficulty, (i.e. the
questions get progressively harder as you work through each question
set). Use this knowledge to plot strategy for each section; for
example, consider spending extra time on early questions to make sure
to net "easy" points.
- Skip Around.
Within any given section of the PSAT and SAT I, one may skip
around and answer the questions in any order. If a particular
question or passage is difficult, skip it; return to it later if there
- Pace Yourself.
The SAT I and PSAT ask a lot of questions in a short period of time.
To get through a whole section, it's important not to spend too much
time on any one question. Get used to the pressure by practicing
under timed conditions and keep a brisk pace throughout the test.
Make sure to wear a watch as the test proctors do not always provide
- Guess. Test
takers often talk about a "guessing penalty" on the SAT. This is a
misnomer; it's really a "wrong-answer penalty." Guess wrong and lose
points. Guess right, and you gain. By eliminating one or more
answers as definitely wrong, the odds of guessing the correct answer
- Be Careful With
The Answer Grid. Even if every question is correctly answered on
these tests, the score will undoubtedly be lower if it is gridded
incorrectly. Be careful when inputting answers. One time-proven
gridding strategy is to circle the answer for each question in the
booklet as it is figured out, then transfer those answers to the
answer grid in groups of five or more.
- Look for Quick
Points If Time is Running Short. Some questions can be answered
more quickly than others. For instance, some reading questions ask to
identify the meaning of a particular word in the passage. Questions
such as these can often be answered quickly when time starts to run
out at the end of a section.
- The Most Obvious
Choice on Difficult Questions is Almost Always Wrong - but it's
not far off. When in doubt, look for the answer that is closest to
the most obvious choice.
- The Correct
Answer to Multiple-Choice Reading Comprehension Questions are Easily
Defended Factual Statements or Carefully Worded Opinions. Choices
that use exclusive or extreme words (only, always, never, all, none)
are rarely if ever correct, unless proceeded by a qualifier like
"not," in which case they are almost always correct.
- When Asked to
Compare Fractions, Turn Them Into Their Decimal Equivalents by
Dividing the Top number by the Bottom Number (with a calculator!)
It's hard to know whether 6/15 is greater or less than 7/16 but it is
easily compare their decimal equivalents. 6/15=.4 while 7/16=.4375.
Clearly 7/16 is greater.
- Bring a Digital
Watch (it's easier to read) and a calculator (it's permitted).
More SAT Prep Tips