Wow, I just finished tutoring quite a few people for the SAT! They were great students - very hardworking and conscientious. I hope they do well! For high school students preparing for future SATs, here are some things that I recommend:
- Bring a watch! You don't know where you'll be sitting and you don't want to stressing about the time.
- Bring layers! Schools have unpredictable temperatures, especially unfamiliar schools.
- Can you eliminate one or two choices? Guess! You get one point for every right answer, a negative quarter of a point for every wrong answer, and zero points for skipped questions.
- Have a bad section? Do not let that get you down. I cannot stress that enough. One bad section won't ruin your score (unless if you want an 800). Also, most of the time, people overestimate how bad a particular section went and end up doing fine.
- Weird, do you notice three C's in a row? Ignore it. Don't base your next answer off of your past answers. The SAT writers don't vary the answer choices as much as high school teachers do. Also, how you do know for sure that your last three answers were correct? You don't! Therefore, answer each question independently from the other questions.
- Too many variables? Pick a number! Substitute easy numbers for the confusing variables. For example, if it says, 'for any positive even number, p' use the number 2 (or an equally easy number) for p. Plug it into the answers to see which one is right. Try
to avoid the numbers 0 and 1 though.
- For the Grid-In questions, always guess! You're not penalized for wrong grid-in answers. If you get an answer wrong in this part, it won't bring your raw score down.
- If you don't know how to figure it out, plug in the answer choices! Sometimes doing this is even quicker than figuring out an applicable equation and solving.
- Bring a familiar calculator! Timing is everything, so you don't want to waste time looking for buttons, numbers, and symbols.
- The questions generally start easy and end hard. Don't rush through the first questions, so you can get to the last questions. Every question is worth the same amount of points. You're more likely to get an easy question right than a hard question, so make sure you get the first questions right.
- For the long reading passages, read the WHOLE section and then look at and answer the questions. Take notes as you read; it will help you focus.
- The answer is in the passage. Do not bring in outside knowledge. The CR sections tests your reading ability, not your history, science, and literature knowledge. If the topic seems unfamiliar to you, that's good - you'll be unbiased.
- For the vocab part, focus on the words you know! Use the familiar words to eliminate some answer choices.
- Read the question carefully. If you don't answer it, the highest you can get is a 3 out of 6 from each grader.
- Do not rewrite the citation. You won't lose points for rewriting it, but you will lose a lot of time. The citation is there to help you think, you don't have to agree with it.
- Pick a side. Even if you're undecided about the question, pick a side. The point of the essay is to persuade the reader.
- Outline first! You want an organized essay. You want an into (including your thesis statement and your body topics), two to (ideally) three body topics, and a conclusion.
- Pick two or three examples to support your idea. You want to vary you examples. For example, three history examples is not a good idea. History, literature, current events, technology, personal experiences, pop culture, and anything that you think could be relevant are all good for examples!
- Don't be afraid to think the sentence is correct! About one-fifth of the time, you won't have to change anything or there won't be an error.
- Check for subject-verb agreement and subject-pronoun agreement.
- Be extra careful with comparison questions.
- Look out for these word couplets: "either / or" , "neither / nor" , and "not only / but also". If you see one of these words, the other must also appear!
- Make sure the verb tenses are correct. That's an easy mistake to make.
Hopefully, these techniques will help you through the SAT! If you have any questions, feel free to comment.