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Here are several free SAT tips from our tutors:
- The reading section of the test is made up of two types of questions:
- The sentence completion questions increase in difficulty, as tip number 1 explained. However, the passage-based reading comprehension questions do not. So, don’t expect those questions to get harder and over-think your answers.
- The answers for the passage-based reading comprehension questions are always in the text. As you’re reading look for key words and phrases to help you.
- Do not be afraid to use the line numbers. If the question quotes part of the passage, it will also include the line number. Paying attention to these numbers will help you know what part of the passage to look at for the answer. Remember that these numbers are not leading you to the answer. You may have to read before or after the line number to find the correct answer.
- It is better to answer all of the questions related to the first passage and then move on to the next one. If you jump back and forth between passages, it is easy to confuse the information, and you could answer incorrectly.
- Don’t worry if you do not know what a specific word means in a passage. See if you can deduce any information from the context of the passage or the word itself. Does the word look similar to any other words you know?
- Read the directions thoroughly. You don’t want to miss a point simply because you answered correctly the wrong question.
- Feel free to use the formula page at the beginning of the text booklet! The formulas are provided for you so that you don’t have to memorize all of them.
- Sometimes it is helpful to draw a diagram. This may help you visualize the object and organize multiple facts.
- You aren’t expected to work out the problem in your head. You may use the test booklet for scratch paper for your calculations. Just remember to transfer your answer to your answer sheet. You will not receive credit for your work in the test booklet.
- The figures in the test booklet are all drawn to scale, unless it says otherwise.
- Make sure you read the entire essay prompt. There is always a paragraph about the issue included in the prompt.
- When you are formulating your argument in your head, it is sometimes helpful to imagine that you are in a debate with the author of the prompt. Answering the questions that are raised in such a debate will help you find your argument, and give it depth.
- Don’t be distracted by the number of examples you use to support your argument. A few well-thought-out examples are preferred over multiple half-hearted ones.
- If you have an example from your life that relates directly to your argument, feel free to use it and the first person. Since you are reporting on your personal opinion, it is appropriate to use “I.”
- Don’t be deceived by word count. Make sure your argument is sound and that your examples are applicable and support your thesis. You will not get credit for simply having a long essay.
General Answering Tips
- There are 67 critical reading questions, 54 math questions, 49 writing questions, and 1 essay on the SAT. For the all the math and writing multiple choice sections and within the vocabulary portion of the critical reading sections, the questions have a set order of difficulty, with the easiest questions at the beginning and the hardiest questions towards the end. Therefore, be wary of questions that seem too easy at the end of sections.
- If you are not sure which answer to choose in a multiple-choice question, don’t panic! Use your deductive reasoning skills and start by marking out the answers that cannot be correct. This helps you narrow your focus and concentrate on choosing the right answer.
- Be careful that you don’t just choose a random answer for the sake of putting something down. Remember that wrong answers count against you. So, if you are not sure on a few, it’s okay to leave them blank. Put some sort of mark (question marks are good) next to the question number in your booklet. If you have time at the end, go back and look at the question again.
- Manage your time! You should neither rush through all of the questions, nor should you spend an extended period of time on each question. Find a nice rhythm so that you can absorb the entire question, answer it correctly, and not over-think your answer.
- Don’t forget to mark your answers down on the answer sheet. The work you do in the book does not count toward your score. Also, when you are filling in your answer sheet, make sure the numbers in your book match the numbers on the sheet. Accidentally skipping a question on your answer sheet can cause great havoc to your score.
- Avoid marking up your answer sheet with things other than your answers. The test is graded by a machine, and sometimes it has difficulty telling the difference between an answer and a tick or doodle. You don’t want to negatively affect your score by confusing the machine.
- Try to take only practice tests released from the Collegeboard. Although Princeton Review, Kaplan, Barron's, McGraw-Hill, Grubbers, and other test prep books may offer useful strategies for approaching individual problems, their practice tests inevitably deviate in content from the real SAT. For example, Barron's produces tests which are notoriously more difficult than the real one. To make the best use of the time that you have, simulate actual test conditions, and take practice tests from The Official SAT Study Guide (Blue Book) under timed circumstances. Don't forget to review all the questions that you got wrong.
- The best prep books for improving vocabulary are Direct Hits Core Vocabulary Volumes 1 and 2 and Barron's 1100 Words You Need To Know. Another way to build vocabulary is to read the dictionary. Learn at least 5 new words a day. Building your vocabulary will not only help you improve your reading scores, but will also give you more options to express your opinion in the writing section.
- Writing is the easiest section to improve upon. By learning the grammar rules and how to write a formulated essay, you will see your writing score improve drastically.
- The day before the test, don't cram. Relax by watching a movie at home or reading a book, and get a good night's rest.
- On test day, don't forget to get a good breakfast, and bring sharpened No.2 pencils, a watch, a snack, a calculator, batteries, an ID, and your SAT admission ticket.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early at the test center. You will be more relaxed as you begin the test if you aren’t rushed getting there.
- The SAT does not measure intelligence. The only thing that the SAT measure is how well a person can take the SAT. With preparation and the right strategies, anyone can earn a high score.