Basic Rules of SAT II Test-Taking
There are some rules of strategy that apply to all SAT
II tests. These rules are so obvious that we hesitate to even call
them “strategies,” but we’re going to list them, just to make sure
that you’ve thought about them.
Avoiding carelessness probably sounds to you more like
common sense than a sophisticated strategy. We don’t disagree. But
it is amazing how a timed test can warp and mangle common sense.
There are two types of carelessness, both of which will
cost you points. The first type results from sheer overconfidence.
If you speed through the test without a second glance, you make
yourself vulnerable to misinterpreting questions, or overlooking
answer choices. As you take the test, make a conscious effort to
approach it calmly and methodically, no matter how comfortable you
are with the material. There’s nothing worse than realizing you
lost points due to sloppy mistakes.
Then there’s lack of confidence—a defeatist attitude is
your worst enemy when taking the SAT IIs, because if you automatically
assume you won’t be able to answer many of the questions, you’ll
give up at the first sign of difficulty and sabatoge your score.
Even if you don’t feel confident about the material, stay on track
and use our techniques for test-taking, and you might find you know
more (and get a better score) then you thought you would.
Be Careful Filling In Your Answers
The computer that scores SAT II tests is unmerciful. If
you answered a question correctly, but somehow made a mistake in
marking your answer grid, the computer will mark that question as
wrong. If you skipped question 5, but put the answer to question
6 in row 5, and the answer to question 7 in row 6, etc., thereby
throwing off your answers for an entire section . . . it gets ugly.
Some test prep books advise that you fill in your answer
sheet five questions at a time rather than one at a time. Some suggest
that you do one question and then fill in the corresponding bubble.
We think you should fill out the answer sheet whatever way feels
most natural to you; just make sure you’re careful while doing it.
In our opinion, the best way to ensure that you’re being careful
is to talk silently to yourself. As you figure out an answer in
the test booklet and transfer it over to the answer sheet ovals,
say to yourself: “Number 23, B. Number 24, E, Number 25, A.”