23 Tips To Ace The SAT

In our previous post, we saw the basic steps to prepare for a standardized test. In this article, let’s go over the critical 23 tips to score high on the SAT, required for college admissions in the USA.

Overall SAT

  1. Know the question instructions for all sections beforehand. Read them well before the test section begins. Use the test time for solving actual questions, not reading instructions.
  2. Eliminate incorrect answers. Make an A/B/C/D/E grid and cross out all answers you know to be incorrect. This strategy, especially in Math, will come handy in difficult questions.
  3. When you think two answers ‘seem’ correct, one of them is definitely a trick answer. Select the ‘best’ answers. In the Verbal section, the concise and straightforwardly-worded answer choice is most likely to be correct.
  4. SAT is not computer-based, so you can answer questions in any order. Use this to your advantage. Solve easy questions first, before tackling challenging ones.
  5. If you simply cannot answer a question, go with your gut feeling and guess. Do not leave the question unanswered.

Critical Reading

  1. For sentence completion, try to complete the sentence in your own words. Once that is framed, simply look at the answer choices that are the closest to your own sentence.
  2. If you come across an unfamiliar word, guess its meaning based on the context. SAT is not a vocabulary test and there will be enough clues to know the meaning of such words.
  3. In reading comprehension, make up a summary of each paragraph in a single sentence. Most important sentences are at the beginning and end. Make sure that these sentences connect to one another and you understand the main narrative.
  4. Smartly use transition words – hence, therefore, likewise, etc – to understand how the ideas are connected to one another.
  5. Do not put your own thoughts while answering reading comprehension questions. Your answer must be based on what is stated in the passage.
  6. Do not overly rely on any shortcuts for reading comprehension. Only practice will help you improve.

Writing

  1. Before writing, make up the structure of your essay – the core idea, the idea in each paragraph, and how they connect. Split up your word limit across these paragraphs. This will make writing much easier.
  2. The introductory paragraph must state your take on the topic. Each body paragraphs must have one point, followed by supporting examples. The conclusion should summarize the essay and restate the main idea.
  3. Write simply. Only use words or phrases that are necessary.
  4. Use punctuation well. The most useful are – apostrophes, commas,  semicolons, colons, and dashes.
  5. Leave 5 mins for proofreading.
  6. While practicing, get your essays reviewed by others. Feedback will help you realize mistakes that you are likely to ignore on your own.

Math

  1. On the student-produced response questions, make sure you take care of the following:
  • There are no negative numbers as answers.
  • For repeating decimals, write only as many digits as are possible in the answer grid.
  • Do not use mixed fractions. Convert them to proper fractions or decimals. i.e. if your answer is 1 ¾, write 7/4 or 1.75.
  1. You must know your formulas. In one section, you can use the calculator, but if you don’t know the formulas, you cannot still answer.
  2. Use only the test booklet for calculations or diagrams. The answer booklet must only have the answers.
  3. In many questions, you can plug back your answer into the question and verify if it is true. Do it to be doubly-sure, if you need to.
  4. The math sections are roughly ordered from easy to difficult questions. That means, answer the earlier questions first, before moving on to later questions.
  5. Know your weak areas. If you are not good at geometry, say, then read a geometry question and decide if you can do it. If you realize you cannot, skip it for now and come back when you are done with the rest of the section.

With these tips, you should have a good game-plan for the SAT. But you can make the best use of these tips only when you practice the actual SAT questions. So, what are you waiting for? Practice, practice, practice!


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