Ten Tips for Taking the SAT


  1. Never, ever spend a lot of time on one question . As you know, all questions are worth the same, and no one question will make or break your score. So it is to your advantage to keep moving!
  2. Forget about trigonometry . Instead, make sure you have a solid knowledge of the basics. Did you know the SAT/ACT tests math most students have seen by ninth grade? You'll see lots of geometry, but later concepts like trigonometry won't even be on the SAT/ACT. Sure, you might see some quadratics, but you don't need the quadratic formula. So don't worry about those harder concepts.
  3. Don't automatically pick the choice with the hardest word . In the Verbal section, you won't always know the meanings of all the words. That's OK. But don't pick an answer just because you don't know what the word means. Some people assume that any word they don't know must be correct, but don't fall into that trap. If most of the words are fairly easy and one word is something tough like "quixotic," then chances are that quixotic isn't right.
  4. Know the directions for the question before you take the test . The directions never change, so it really pays to know them before going into the SAT. Most of the directions are pretty straightforward. But on the SAT/ACT, quantitative comparisons, analogies, and grid-ins can be more than a little confusing. Take the time to understand how these questions work and practice answering them. You don't want your introduction to these question types to take place on the day of your test.
  5. Resist temptationódon't talk to anyone during the break . We know how hard this is after being cooped up in a stuffy, quiet room for hours. But trust usóduring the break, your fellow test takers will want to talk about only two things: the stuff they got right and the stuff you got wrong. Don't fall into this trap. Ignore all the chatter and focus your energy on acing the rest of the test.
  6. If you forget a math formula, just look it up . All the math formulas you need are printed for you at the start of each section. So don't panic if you forget one. Just look it up.
  7. In critical reading, always jump back to the passage . Remember, it's an "open book" test. Double-check the passage to make sure you have strong support for your choices. Wrong answers are designed to be tempting for those who haven't read the passage carefully. So slow down. Check your answer against the actual text of the passage.
  8. Get a good night's sleep . The night before the test, don't study. Get to bed early, be sure to set your alarm, and get to the test site bright-eyed and relaxed. Well, as relaxed as possible!
  9. Take extra time to avoid sloppy mistakes . Take some of the time you would have spent on killer questions and invest it in making sure you get the easy ones right. Look at the questions carefully to make sure you answer the question asked, and don't miss key words.
  10. Relax! We know the pressure is on, but try to relax before, after, and especially during the test. Try to focus on the one question in front of you and not the ones you've already answered or the ones that might come next. Remember, though the SAT/ACT is an important test, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Keep it all in perspective!


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