Use these 15 tips and tricks to help you quickly boost your score on the SAT!
If you come across a question that includes multiple variables or dimensions, underline what it is that you need to solve for so you don’t get lost in your calculations. The SAT loves to provide wrong answers that students might pick if they only get halfway through the calculations they need to do for a problem or accidentally solve for a different variable. Don’t fall for this!
Tip #2: Tread Carefully with “No Error” Answers
On the test, if you find yourself really struggling with a question, just move on and come back to it later (you can circle it if you want to make it easier to spot on your second pass through the section). You don’t want to miss out on easier questions later on in the section because you got stuck on one tough one. Skipping a difficult question that you might not have gotten right anyways is going to damage your score far less than missing a bunch of questions at the end of the section.
Tip #6: Read Italicized Passage Introductions
If you want to stop running out of time on the SAT, you need to learn to skip questions that are taking up too much of your time. How much time is too much? It depends on the section.
Often, these blurbs will tell you the setting of the passage, the name of the main character, or key details about when it was written and for what purpose. This can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to get your bearings on new reading material. Even if you’re planning on skimming the passage or skipping straight to the questions, you should still always read the stuff in italics!
Tip #7: Use Process of Elimination
This is something that not many people think to do but is actually very helpful in saving at least a couple minutes of time per section. Waiting until the end of the section to bubble in all your answers means you eliminate the annoying hassle of switching between your test booklet and answer sheet constantly. As you go through the section initially, just circle your answers so you can easily record them in your answer sheet later.
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This tip applies to most people. If you’re a very fast and thorough reader, you might be able to read passages closely without a problem. If you struggle with time pressure, however, I would recommend skimming the passages instead. You’ll save time and shouldn’t have much more difficulty answering the questions if you skim strategically.
Tip #11: Plug in Answer Choices
1. Know Subject/Verb Agreement
2. Be Careful with “No Error” Answers
Tip #8: Restate the Question in Your Own Words
Plugging in answer choices is a key strategy for the math section. If you’re not sure if your answer to a question is correct, plug it in and see if it works. This is the easiest and most foolproof way to check your answers. You can also use this method to solve questions if you have time – just plug in all the possible answer choices and see which one fits. The advantage of multiple choice is that the correct answer is always right there in front of you, even if you’re not sure exactly which one it is yet.
Tip #10: Underline What You Need to Find
Before you take the SAT, it’s a good idea to plan out the examples you’re going to use in your essay. Brainstorm some historical scenarios or examples from literature that can be adapted to fit a variety of prompts. Check out our article that gives you six different examples that you can use for any prompt! Doing some advance planning will save you a huge amount of time and stress on the test.
Tip #3: Plan Your Examples
If you don’t see any errors in the sentence right off the bat, you will probably be tempted to choose “no error”. CHECK YOURSELF before you do this! If you notice that more than one in five questions seem to be “no error”, then you might be missing something. Reread the other possibilities to yourself and make sure you’re not overlooking any grammar mistakes. This is especially critical at the end of the Writing sections because there will be a high concentration of difficult questions that contain subtler grammar errors.
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Everything is awesome! Especially your introduction and conclusion on your SAT essay! Am I right? Wait please don’t leave…
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3. Pre-Plan Examples
4. Write an Intro and Conclusion
Many students are tempted to skip the little italicized blurbs before SAT reading passages because they don’t seem important. This is a mistake! They can actually help you a lot by giving you context for the passage.
On SAT math questions, specifically geometry-related questions, you are often provided with diagrams that depict the problem you’re being asked to solve. These diagrams aren’t just there for show – you should use them for logical deductions about which answers make sense and which don’t. Just paying attention to what you see in a diagram might allow you to eliminate a couple of answer choices without doing any calculations.
Tip #5: Skim Passages, Don’t Read Closely
15 SAT Tips to Improve Your SAT Score
The most important thing is that you answer whatever questions you can and don’t get distracted by worries about your ultimate scores. Try to stay in the moment, and don’t go into the test with a catastrophic mindset. If you don’t do as well as you hoped this time, it’s not the end of the world!
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SAT Reading questions in particular are known for being somewhat tricky and misleading. The SAT has to make them like that because it’s testing relatively simple concepts, but it still has to be a challenge for high-achieving students.
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You should do your best to finish with extra time on every section of the SAT and double check your answers to avoid careless mistakes. If you’re even slightly unsure about a question, put a star next to it so that you’ll know to pay special attention to it when you double check your answers at the end.
Tip #1: Know Your Subject/Verb Agreement
Tips won’t get you everywhere, and if you’re looking for big improvements, you should still be studying hard and using more in-depth strategies. The advice in this article is just here to give you the little extra boost you need to reach your full score potential!
If you’re already scoring pretty high on the SAT, you might also try and predict the answer to the question before you read the choices so you have a clearer picture of what type of answer you want to choose. Be careful with this though – you should only do it if you’re already a skilled test taker. If you accidentally predict the wrong type of answer, things could turn out badly!
How you should predict the answers to reading questions…
Improving your score on the SAT isn’t always easy, but it might be a little easier than you think if you use these tips! They’re not necessarily magical, but here are 15 tips and tricks for different sections of the SAT to help you improve your scores with minimal extra study time.
5. Skim Passages
6. Read Passage Introductions
7. Use Process of Elimination
8. Restate the Question in Your Own Words
9. Use the Diagrams
10. Underline Key Points
11. Plug in Answer Choices
To get past this obstacle, you might consider rephrasing confusing questions in your own words before looking at the answer choices. This will help you to focus on what the question is actually asking and not get your thoughts twisted around by answer choices that don’t quite fit.
Using process of elimination effectively is key on Critical Reading because it is a strategy that caters to the specificity of the test in terms of what’s “correct”. The only correct answers are the answers that are supported by direct evidence in the passage or the sentence you’re referencing. All other answers will have something definitively wrong with them.
Now that you have some quick tips, take a look at our best studying stategies for SAT Reading, Writing, and Math that will help get you to an awesome score.
Posted by Samantha Lindsay | Aug 2, 2015 12:00:00 PM
Tip #14: Bubble at the End
The questions on SAT Writing that ask you to identify sentence errors always give you the option of choosing “no error”. This can be a very dangerous choice if you’re shaky on grammar rules.
It’s super important to keep a cool head on the SAT. Test anxiety can have a severe impact on your scores, and it’s especially easy to fall victim to it if you’re aiming high. If you have to skip a question, don’t let it derail you – just keep going.
Tip #9: Use the Diagrams
Tip #4: ALWAYS Write an Intro and Conclusion with a Clear Thesis
This applies to all sections of the SAT, but I find that it’s especially important on Critical Reading. This is because the reading section has many questions that students mistakenly view as subjective, so they end up choosing an answer that they should have eliminated.
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If you have enough time, double check all of your answers to control for careless mistakes. Even though it’s tempting to take a rest at the end of the section if you have time, you’ll thank yourself later if you find any easily fixable errors.
An effective skimming strategy is to read the introduction and conclusion paragraphs of the passage and the first and last sentences of every paragraph.You should be able to get a good sense of the main points of the passage and answer any big picture questions you come across after skimming this way. When you get to detail questions, you can go back and read specific parts of the passage closely on a question-by-question basis.
Subject/verb agreement is the grammar rule that comes up most frequently on SAT Writing questions. This means it’s the most important thing for you to know in order to be prepared for the Writing section. Make sure you’re aware of the nuances of subject/verb agreement and how you’ll be asked about it before you take the SAT!
A major pitfall for students on SAT math is that they end up solving for the wrong value. This is a really frustrating mistake to make, but it’s easily fixable.
Tip #13: Double Check
One caveat: Only use this tip if you know you’re able to consistently finish sections on the SAT with at least two minutes to spare. You don’t want to end up not filling in your answer sheet at all!
Writing: no more than 30 seconds
Reading: no more than 45 seconds
Math: no more than 60 seconds
Tip #12: Skip Tough Questions
In using process of elimination, you are learning to be very picky about what constitutes a correct answer, which is key to beating the test. See my article on the fundamental strategy of SAT reading for a more in-depth look at how this works!
Tip #15: DEEP BREATHS
When a grader looks at your essay, the first thing they want to see is that you’ve answered the prompt clearly and logically. This is why it’s so important that you write an introduction in which you spell out your thesis and outline how your essay will be structured. This will show the graders that you are capable of organizing your thoughts and know how to write effectively.
You should also be sure to write a conclusion to wrap up all the points you made in your essay. Once again, this shows that you are able to organize your thoughts and bring your examples together to formulate a coherent opinion. The first and last paragraphs of your essay are disproportionately important to graders, so you should always devote a good chunk of your time to making them awesome.
12. Skip Tough Questions
13. Double Check
14. Bubble at the End
15. Take Deep Breaths