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SAT test taking strategies

Get the PDF – SAT Test-Taking Strategies

Try these strategies out as you practice the SAT, and be ready to use them on test day:

  • Watch the time. Each section of the test has its own time limit. Pace yourself by keeping track of the time by using either a clock or a watch that’s on your desk. Check yourself at one-quarter, one-half and three-quarters of the way through the allotted time to make sure you’re still on pace.
  • Take notes. While you need to keep your answer sheet free of stray marks, you’re welcome to mark up the test booklet as much as you want. If done judiciously, annotating your test booklet can help you recall important facts or work through challenging problems.
  • Skim ahead. Consider skimming the questions in the Reading and the Writing and Language Tests prior to reading each of the passages in order to get a sense of what issues will be important.
  • Take a guess. Before reading the answer choices for each multiple choice question, try to come up with the right answer on your own. Then read the possible answers to find the one closest to your own.
  • Read thoroughly. Always read all the answer choices. You don’t want a hasty decision to cause you to select the wrong answer to a question.
  • Keep moving. Don’t dwell on questions that stump you. Circle ones you decide to skip so that you can return to them quickly later. Remember that a question you answer easily and quickly is worth as much as a question that you struggle with or take a lot of time on.
  • Don’t leave a question unanswered. Remember that there’s no penalty for guessing, so you should answer all questions before time is up. When you’re not sure of an answer, make an educated guess. For multiple-choice questions, draw lines through each of the answer choices you eliminate. Eliminating even one answer choice substantially increases your odds of choosing correctly.
  • Check your question number. Be sure to check often to make sure that the number of the question you’re about to answer matches the number in the test booklet. Erase and adjust if needed. You may finish some sections before time runs out. Review, but do so carefully. You don’t want to second guess yourself and change answers just to change them.


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