A completely overhauled SAT has made its debut on March 2016. Students working hard for a high score are in a tizzy – because the exam is uncharted territory compared to the old SAT, which was familiar and well-understood. Since so much has changed, many are unsure about the techniques and strategies to use.
However, everything has not changed! For one, the new SAT remains time-constrained, perhaps even more than the old one was. In fact, time pressure is the single biggest challenge you will face when you take the new SAT. While taking the exam, you will end up looking at the clock again and again, furiously trying to finish the test.
Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you avoid this situation and deal with the time pressure.
Prepare with Timed Tests
The SAT has a defined format, and it requires certain skills and knowledge. However, these are not enough for a high score. Even if you have prepared well for a long time, to score high on the SAT you must learn to manage your time. Equally important, you must learn to manage yourself and the unavoidable exam-day pressure. For this, you need timed practice: more specifically, you need practice with full-length timed tests.
By taking full-length practice tests, you will learn to avoid panic and deal with the feeling of running out of time, even as you continue at the pace necessary to get answers right.
Don’t rush through sections
At Manya, we believe that accuracy is always better than speed, and the same law applies here! A minute spent on a SAT question that you get right is always better than half a minute spent on a question that you get wrong. Therefore, it is never wise to rush through a section. You will likely make sloppy mistakes on easier questions that you should have gotten right — all for the sake of giving yourself a couple of minutes to attempt questions that are much harder to get right, even if you spent more time on them.
Do questions in the order that suits you
There’s no law that says you have to do questions in the order they are printed. Do them in the order that suits you: easier questions first, harder questions later.
This is especially true for the Mathematics test. If you think a question will be difficult or will take a long time, skip it at first pass. Return to it later. If you have the time, attempt to solve it. If you do not have enough time to solve it, eliminate options that are clearly wrong and guess among the remaining options. Otherwise, just guess! Or rather, use your Letter of the Day. This could be your lucky day – your chosen answer may turn out to be right. There is no negative marking on SAT, so why leave anything unanswered?
Apply a similar strategy to the Reading test. Do the passages in the order that is best for you, leaving difficult passages till later. Within a passage, do the easier questions before the harder ones. As always, eliminate obviously wrong answers and improve your chances of getting the question right. But do all the questions for each passage before you move to the next passage. You will find it difficult to return to the passage later.
The nature of the Writing test is such that it’s best to do the questions in order as you work through the passage.
To sum it up
All through the SAT, keep track of the time and do not allow hard questions to derail your exam. Take advantage of the Multiple Choice format: get rid of the wrong options to improve your chance of choosing the right option and use your Letter of the Day when needed.
Importantly, be confident and take the SAT. Good Luck!!