- On the reading section of the SAT, any answer choices that have “absolute” words (e.g. “all,”
“every,” “always”) are very likely NOT going to be the correct answer. Be very literal. “Most
people are crazy” and “Everyone is crazy” do not mean the same thing. There are almost NO
exceptions to this rule. Knowing this will help you to eliminate bad answer choices quickly
and to avoid deliberating over the answer choices.
- Use all of the space provided on the test for you essay response. Longer essay responses have
a far greater chance of receiving a high score than do shorter ones. Of course, the content
should be of substance. Adding “fluff” will not help your score.
- The writing section passages contain both grammatical and stylistic errors. Strong grammar
will help you immensely, but you also need to have a strong sense of style errors. For
instance, one thing the SAT likes to do is to see if the student can recognize redundancies.
(For example: “The fireman lowered the cat down from the tree.” The word “down” is
redundant since the only way to lower something is to bring it downward)
- Never do the math only in your head. Write it all out. Even the simplest problems. It is very
easy to make mistakes when you just do it in your head. Writing it out also enables you to
check it for any possible errors. You can’t do that when it all remains in your head.
- On the reading section, a good strategy is to look at the questions before reading the passage.
Many questions will ask about specific lines in the passage; some will ask about the passage
as a whole. Answer the questions about specific lines first. By the time you’re done with that,
you will have read the whole passage and you can then tackle the general questions.
- The reading section will always have one passage that is an excerpt from a particular novel.
They seem to have a particular affinity for material from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
These can often be very verbose, full obscure vocabulary, and very difficult to follow. One
thing to do is to let the questions guide your understanding of the text. The questions they ask
can actually sometimes help you to better understand the passage. Moreover, you need to get
used to these sorts of passages. Try reading some material from this time period and get used
to the style and the vocabulary. You might stumble into some pretty awesome literature on
- Do not leave any of the questions unanswered. On the old SAT, incorrect responses resulted
in a score deduction whereas blank response did not. The old strategy was to leave a question
blank if you had no idea what the answer was or if you were running out of time on the
section. Now it makes more sense to answer all of the questions. You might get lucky and get
a few of them correct.
- When you first start preparing for the SAT, don’t worry about how much time it takes you to
work through a section. Most of you will be able to finish it in time. Some of you will
struggle and perhaps leave two or three questions to guess at. If you start timing yourself
right away, you’ll tend to be overly focused on the time rather than on the test. Besides, the
best remedy for those with time issues is to gain confidence. First get good at answering the
questions correctly. This will yield confidence and you’ll be far less tentative in your
approach to the test questions.