Jump to a New ChapterIntroduction to the SAT IIIntroduction to the SAT II U.S. HistoryStrategies for Taking the SAT II U.S. HistoryAmerica Before the EuropeansThe Colonial PeriodRevolution and ConstitutionA New NationThe Age of JacksonCultural Trends: 1781–Mid-1800sWestward Expansion and Sectional StrifeCivil War and ReconstructionIndustrial RevolutionThe Age of ImperialismThe Progressive EraWorld War IThe Roaring TwentiesThe Great Depression and the New DealWorld War IIThe 1950s: Cold War, Civil Rights, and Social TrendsThe 1960s1970s–2000GlossaryPractice Tests Are Your Best Friends
 3.1 Basic Rules of SAT II Test-Taking 3.2 How the SAT II U.S. History Tests History 3.3 Strategy and Multiple-Choice Questions

 3.4 Guessing and the SAT II U.S. History 3.5 Pacing: The Key to Scoring Well
Guessing and the SAT II U.S. History
Should you guess on the SAT II U.S. History? We’ll begin to answer this question by posing a question of our own:
 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is holding five cards, numbered 1–5. Without telling you, he has selected one of the numbers as the “correct” card. If you pick a single card, what is the probability that you will choose the “correct” card?
The answer, of course, is 1 in 5. But the answer is only important if you recognize that this question precisely describes the situation you’re in when you blindly guess on any SAT II U.S. History question—you have a 1 in 5 chance of getting the question right. If you were to blindly guess on ten questions in a row, you would (according to probability) get two questions right and eight questions wrong.
• 2 right answers gets you 2 raw points
• 8 wrong answers gets you 1/4 points = –2 raw points
Those ten answers, therefore, net you a total of zero points. ETS designed the scoring system in such a way that random guessing is pointless. They want to ensure you have to think.
Educated Guessing
Suppose you’re faced with this question:
 George Washington was born in the year (A) 1730 (B) 1731 (C) 1732 (D) 1733 (E) 1977
You probably don’t know in what year George Washington was born (and you won’t need to know such a minor fact for the SAT II test). But you do know that Washington was not born in 1977. Once you’ve eliminated “1977” as a possible answer, you have four remaining choices. Is it worth it to guess? Yes. Probability states that if you are guessing between four choices you will get one question right for every three you get wrong. For that one correct answer you’ll get 1 point, and for the three incorrect answers you’ll lose a total of 3/ 4 of a point.
The math indicates that if you can eliminate one answer, the odds of guessing are in your favor: you become more likely to gain points than to lose points.
The rule for guessing on the SAT II U.S. History, therefore, is simple: if you can eliminate even one answer choice on a question, you should definitely guess.
If You’re Stumped