The SAT Is Not a NASCAR-Sanctioned Event
The SAT is a timed test, and some people take this to
mean that they should answer items as quickly as possible. They
cut corners on items to speed through a section. This is a classic
error. It’s an especially disastrous policy on SAT Math, because
the “easiest” items are at the beginning. If the last item had a
fifty-point bonus attached to it, things would be different, but
every item counts the same. Getting two hard items right doesn’t
do you any good if you miss two easy items in your haste. You’ll be
better off taking the time to answer the easy items correctly, and
then using whatever time you have left to take an educated guess
on the remaining harder items.
Accuracy counts more than speed. First go through a section
and answer all the items that come easily to you. Then:
- Take the time to answer every one of these
- Take another shot at the remaining items during the second
run-through. If you spend two minutes, and the item still doesn’t
yield an answer, take a guess and move on.
To achieve the second point, avoid choosing the answer
that looks “right” at first glance. On easy items, this choice may
well be the correct answer. For items numbered 12 or higher, an
answer that screams “Ooh! Ooh! Pick me and hurry on!” should be
handled like a live snake. SAT distractors are designed to catch
the eye of students in a hurry. More often than not, an answer choice
for a hard item that looks too good to be true is exactly that—too
good to be true.
Remember, if you can safely eliminate one of the answer
choices as being wrong, you should take a guess because you beat
the wrong-answer penalty.
For most students, the best method for picking up points
in the Math section is by:
- Answering all the easy items correctly.
- Slowing down and catching most of the medium items.
- Getting 25 to 50 percent of the hard items right.
This approach is not as thrilling as getting the hardest
five items right (while chancing tons of mistakes along the way),
but it does put you on the best path to a high score.