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SAT Successful Scoring Tips

Are you or someone you know about to take the SAT? Below are some useful test-taking pointers from the College Board. Also, check out our SAT essay and reading comprehension tips from NOW Classroom.

  • Answer easy questions first. The easier questions are usually at the start of the section, and the harder ones at the end. The exception is in the critical reading section, where questions are ordered according to the logic and organization of each passage.
  • Make educated guesses. If you can rule out one or more answers for multiple-choice questions, you have a better chance of guessing the right answer.
  • Skip only those questions for which you can't make an educated guess.
  • Limit your time on any one question. All questions are worth the same number of points. If you need more time to answer a question, go on to the next one. You can return to the question you skipped if you have time later.
  • Keep track of time. Don't spend too much time on any one group of questions within a section.
  • Use your test booklet as scratch paper.
  • Mark in your booklet the questions that you skipped and want to return to.
  • Check your answer sheet closely to make sure you are answering the right question.
  • Make sure you use a No 2. pencil. It is very important that you fill out the answer sheet darkly and completely. If you change your response, erase it as completely as possible.

Below are the College Board's top tips for approaching the different sections of the SAT:

Critical Reading

  • If you don't know what a word means in a sentence completion or reading passage, consider the root of the word, or see if you can think of related words or familiar phrases to help identify the word's meaning.
  • All the information you need to answer the reading is in the passage. Reading carefully is key to finding the correct answer.
  • Work on sentence completion questions first. They take less time than the reading passages, so doing this will help you
  • to answer the maximum amount of questions in each section in case you run out of time.
  • Answer as many questions as you can in each passage before you go on to the next one.


  • The test does not require you to memorize formulas. Commonly-used formulas are provided in the test book at the beginning of each mathematics section. You only need to decide which formula will correctly answer each question.
  • Drawing or sketching a diagram of the information can be helpful in solving some problems.
  • Read the problem carefully. Note key words that tell you what the problem is asking.
  • Not all questions require you to use a calculator to find the answer. Using it for simple questions can be time-consuming and take away time for more complex problems.

Writing the Essay

  • Read the entire assignment closely. Every essay assignment contains a short paragraph about the issue. Before diving into the essay, imagine yourself in a conversation with the author of the issue. Would you agree or disagree with him, and what examples would you use to prove your point? Answering these questions ahead of time will help you develop your own answer.
  • Don't oversimplify. An essay with one or two thoughtful, developed examples usually receives a higher score than an essay with a bunch of simple, unexplained ones.
  • Feel free to use "I". This essay is your opinion, so don't be afraid to use "I" in your writing. Provide examples that are meaningful to you and relevant to your life.
  • Length doesn't matter. You will not receive a higher score just because you write a long essay. Scorers prefer a shorter essay with a few well-developed ideas.
  • Providing literary examples doesn't guarantee a high grade. While being able to identify examples from works of literature is a good start, graders are looking more for personal insight than examples from literature.

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