SAT Test Preparation Tips
As you work through the actual SAT questions from The Official SAT Study Guide, (yes, we really do think this guide is extremely helpful), be sure to do so in as closely simulated a test-taking environment as possible.
The key preparation tips you should know thoroughly are:
Keep track of the time (duh!?!)
You should bring a non-beeping watch (analog, not digital) with you to the SAT exam. Before the beginning of each section, write down the time the test will end. You can refer to this note periodically during the exam to gauge your performance.
Allocate your SAT test time wisely
Do not spend time reading the instructions. You should do this during your preparation and go into the exam already understanding its structure and types of questions asked. Despite the reduction in the number of questions asked in its latest incarnation (and it’s because of competition from the ACT in our opinion), the SAT still makes most test takers feel time pressure and the time spent reading instructions is better spent answering the questions.
You will give your best performance if you neither rush through every question nor take an inordinately long amount of time on a few questions and leave the rest unanswered.
There is most definitely a proper balance between these 2 extremes.
All the questions are worth the same number of points. As a result, it will behoove you to NOT spend an inordinate amount of time with the more difficult questions.
Know when to skip a question
Go for the “low-hanging” fruit first. If you see a question and you have NO idea of how to eliminate even one choice, do not spend more than 20 seconds before moving on.
(Sometimes easy problems look difficult at first glance but the “fog” will quickly lift within a few seconds and you will be able to answer the question very confidently.)
Notate your omitted questions
You should, however, place a question mark next to the question in the booklet so, if you have time at the end, you will be able to easily identify the omitted questions.
Do NOT spend an equal amount of time on each question
Just spend the time you need. Pretty simple, right? With practice, you will develop a good feel for your ability level and how your time will be best spent on each section. There’s that recurring theme again: practice, practice, practice!
Should you have some time left over at the end of a section…
This 3-hour (add 50 minutes if you decide to do the optional essay) exam will play a large role in determining the rest of your life. Think about it. Do you want to work for people like us or would you rather be our boss? Of course not. You’re young and full of energy. Suck it up and spend the remaining time checking your answers. Don’t stop working until the proctor says to.
If you have time at the end of each section, feel free to go back and re-examine the most difficult questions that you decided to omit. We also strongly encourage you to check your answers to the first questions as these are generally very easy and you should be able to quickly catch any dumb mistakes that would have otherwise cost you a “gimme” question.