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SAT Test Taking Tips

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By Abigail Miller 42Fifty Staff Writer

Taking the SAT can be scary. With SAT scores being an integral part of college acceptance, students often feel like their future is on the line. Luckily, there are ways to make the testing experience a bit easier. Sometimes it’s not thinking harder about the right answer, but thinking of smarter ways to save time and eliminate incorrect answer choices.

Try some of these tips to help you improve your SAT experience. But, remember, not all of these strategies work for everyone. Each student approaches a test differently, so use the strategies you feel most comfortable with.

Math:

  1. Complete the free response questions first. There are, in theory, an infinite amount of answers to choose from for the free response questions on the SAT. On multiple choice, there’s only four potential answers. If you run low on time and need to guess on the rest of the math questions, it’s far more likely that you’ll guess the remaining multiple choice correct over the free response.
  2. Plug and Chug. This method should only be used if you genuinely do not remember how to solve a certain equation. Plug and chug means taking every answer choice and plugging it into the equation to see which is correct, rather than trying to solve the problem on your own. It can be time consuming, but it will ensure you choose the correct answer. That being said, only use the Plug and Chug method if you’re unsure how to solve the equation. Using this method on a problem you can do in your sleep only wastes time on questions you still need to complete.

English:

  1. Read the questions before reading each passage. You’ll get a general sense of what to pay attention for once you actually begin reading. Plus, if any questions are about certain vocab words, you can pay closer attention to the word’s context and meaning.
  2. Answer specific questions first. Specific questions would be those that ask you about a paragraph, line, or word in the passage. Questions about a passage’s overall purpose or theme usually take longer to think about. Save these for last so you don’t blow all of your time on them.
  3. Consider the context. If a question asks you about a word’s meaning, don’t just think of what it commonly means. In the context of the passage you’re reading, a word may have a different meaning. Don’t be lazy and assume, go back and check the word’s context before you answer.

Overall Testing Tips:

  1. If you see a question and don’t know the answer, skip it and move on. Why spend five minutes contemplating a problem you don’t know how to solve when there’s other questions on the test you may immediately be able to answer? Save the questions you’re unsure about for last. Once you’ve answered all the questions you do know, your extra time can be spent on the more challenging ones.
  2. Wear a watch. Although everyone is supposed to be able to see a clock from their seat, don’t count on it. Wearing a watch ensures you can check the time, no matter what.
  3. Utilize any extra time. If you finish the math section early, go back and double check your free response answers. For the test as a whole, use extra time to revisit questions you struggled on.
  4. Trust your gut. Did you erase an answer and choose a different one because you were afraid you were wrong? Most of the time, the first answer your choose is the correct one. Don’t doubt yourself, chances are you’re right!

Good luck to all OHS Panthers taking the SAT and PSAT!

Abigail Miller covers fine arts and academics at Oswego High School. She can be reached at 15000159@students.sd308.org. Or, contact the publication directly at 42fifty@sd308.org.

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