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How to Take the SAT Test: Study Tips

How to Take the SAT Test: Study Tips

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As with any test, there are strategies you can use on the SAT Reasoning Test to ensure you finish in the allotted time and with the best possible score. Here are a few tips related to the three main areas of the SAT: the writing portion, the critical reading portion, and the mathematics portion.

The writing portion

SAT test tipsThe essay:

  • Use a pencil, because essays written in ink are given a score of zero.
  • Your assigned topic will take the form of an issue presented in a passage, so you will not be able to plan out your response beforehand -- but you can practice organizing and outlining arguments.
  • Read the entire assignment. The goal is to be thorough, thoughtful and organized, and all of the information given to you can help.
  • Organize the essay any way that makes sense to you, as long as you can make a point and convincingly back it up with examples. One option is to follow the 5-paragraph essay style, though the style itself won't earn any points.
  • Plan your time well. Spend the first few minutes thinking about your main point and writing a rough outline. Come up with your overall statement and 1-3 supporting points. Organize your thoughts on how you will use each point to support your main idea.
  • When writing, stick to your outline, stay focused on your main statement, and take the time to thoroughly explain the points you're making -- but keep an eye on the clock, because you want to save some time for review.
  • Spend the last few minutes reviewing what you've written. Make sure it makes sense, and make any changes you need to. If it reads well to you, chances are it will read well to the reviewers.

Multiple choice:

  • Read the instructions carefully to make sure you completely understand the question.
  • Eliminate the answers you know are wrong first. If you're still not sure, make an educated guess from the remaining ones.

The critical reading portion

Multiple choice:

  • Answer the sentence completion questions first, since they are easier than the reading questions. The sentence completions increase in difficulty if you do them in order.
  • Read the passages carefully. All the information you need to answer the question is supplied, so don't be fooled by answers that sound right but aren't supported by the reading.
  • Don't jump from passage to passage. These questions don't increase in difficulty, so it's better to answer them one passage at a time.
  • Mark the questions you skip in your test booklet, so you can go back to them later.
  • Leave it blank, don't guess, if you have no idea what the answer is and you can't eliminate any choices. Wrong answers subtract 1/4 of a point, while blank answers don't add or subtract anything.

The mathematics portion

Student-generated (grid-in):

  • Do practice problems online.
  • Formulas are provided in the test booklet, so you don't have to try to memorize them.
  • Read each question carefully, looking for key words that indicate what the problem is asking. Is the answer a percentage? An angle? The complement of an angle?
  • Draw a sketch of the problem if you need to, and use the booklet for scratch work.
  • All figures are drawn to scale unless otherwise indicated. The test won't try to trick you with inaccurate drawings.

Multiple choice:

  • Look at the answer choices before taking the time to figure it out. One might make itself obvious to you right away.
  • Eliminate wrong answers by trying them in the question -- but don't do this for every problem, as it takes up time.

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How to Take the SAT Test: Sample Questions

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