An Easy Way to Improve Your Score: The SAT Bubble Strategy

If you’re preparing for the SAT, I’m guessing that you’ve studied for the reading, writing & language, and math sections. Preparing for the actual content of the exam is crucial to succeeding on the SAT, but have you ever thought about your bubbling strategy?

Because the SAT is time sensitive, any time you can save will benefit your overall strategy. If your current strategy is to bubble in answers after answering each question, you are wasting crucial time on the exam. Diverting your attention between the test booklet and the scantron sheet every after every single question not only affects your ability to focus, but wastes time in trying to find your previous spot on the page. Multitasking doesn’t work; it reduces your efficiency because your brain can only give its undivided attention to one thing at a time. Here’s how you can improve your score by 20-50 points with a more efficient bubbling strategy:

Bubble your answers after finishing each page, not after each question. Especially in the English sections (sections 1 and 2), each page is often correlated to one passage, which means that the questions about the same passage are grouped together. If you focus all your attention on answering questions for one passage, and then bubble after you complete a passage, bubbling can act as a momentary break between each passage. This brief rest period before you begin the next passage also serves as a time to reset before you move on to a different topic.

Here are two ways you can mark your answers on the test booklet to save the most time when you actually bubble your answers:

1. Circle the letter of the answer choice.

This option is conventional. It’s what I personally did when I took the SAT. The bubbles were a strong enough indicator of the answer I chose, so that when I did ultimately bubble after finishing each page, I could bubble in multiple answers at a time. For example, I would think to myself, “CDDB, CB” for the picture below.

2. Write the letter in big font on the side of the question.

If you find that circling the answer choice isn’t a clear enough indicator of the answer you chose, I recommend writing the letter in big font on the side of the question. This way, when you look over at the test booklet when bubbling on the scantron, it’s easier for your brain to process “CDDB, CB.”

SAT Test Page

Try out this strategy the next time you take a practice test. You may find that this works for you!