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SAT Prep Professionals Share 3 Essential Exam Strategies

Posted By Ryan Duques

The SAT test is offered seven times per year and our SAT online tutors are busy preparing for students that will be taking one of our online SAT courses. In between preparing materials, we took a few minutes to interview SAT Prep professionals and asked them to share their essential tips for adding points to the SAT. This is what they had to say:

SAT Tip: Cross Out Incorrect Choices and Code Possible Correct Answers

 The importance of the SAT can add unbelievable pressure and cause students to freeze up on the exam. This anxiety often leads to students forgetting simple SAT strategies like taking advantage of the multiple-choice format of the test. Although it may seem self-explanatory and overly obvious, it is critical to cross off choices that you know for sure are incorrect.

At times, the multiple choices can seem to loom under the question and, in the stress of the moment, can seem to blend together into a string of jumbled possibilities that you keep reading and rereading. Simply crossing out choices that you know for sure are incorrect can eliminate this frustration and confusion. This will help to limit the number of choices that remain as well as prevent repetitious reading of choices that you have already determined are wrong.


However, do not become over zealous and cross out a choice that you think may be a possibility. In this case, simply write anM for maybe to the left of it so that you can go back to it after you read all of the choices and re-evaluate the possibility of it being correct.


By coding the choices in this way you can help yourself to organize possible correct answers. Additionally, this method can help you to save time because it allows you to confidently skip rereading choices that you have already determined are wrong. Despite the stress of the moment, try to remember that a correct choice does exist for each question and that by having a plan on how to deal with the multiple choice format can help you arrive at that correct answer more quickly and accurately.

SAT Tip: Should I Guess or Skip a Question?

SAT Prep professionals are always asked: How do I know if I should guess or skip a question that I am unsure of? While there is not a cut and dry answer on how many questions you should (or shouldn’t) skip or on how many questions you can afford to guess on, there are a few tips on how to determine whether it is worth it to guess or if it is more beneficial to skip. Just keep in mind that you don’t lose points when you skip a problem but you do give up the possibility of earning points toward your overall score if you were to guess correctly.

1.I recommend that you approach each question as though you do not have the opportunity to skip it; analyze each question and try your best to eliminate as many choices as possible before you even consider skipping it. Even if it is a question that covers a topic that you are not familiar with, attempt to solve the problem as if you had no other choice but to take an educated guess on the answer.

2.Now that you are attempting every problem with sincere determination, you can move on to analyzing your probability of getting the question correct. Without getting distracted by statistical analysis, let’s just say that every time you cross out a choice that you are confident is incorrect, you increase your chances of getting the question correct. Therefore, if you are able to eliminate two choices, you should guess and if you are able to eliminate three choices you should not skip; at this point your chances of answering the question correctly to 50%. In this case it is definitely beneficial to guess. On the other hand, if you are not able to eliminate any choices or can only eliminate one choice, I would recommend skipping it; in this case you only have 20 – 25% chance of answering it correctly.

3.When you are finished with a section go back and look over the ones that you skipped. It has been my experience that many times after a student looks back over the questions they previously skipped they realize that they are able to eliminate more choices and guess on the correct answer. Also, by reviewing the number of problems you skipped you can ensure that you have not skipped an extreme number of questions.

4.Whatever you do, don’t try the “Christmas tree method” where you just fill in the bubbles to make a nice pattern. If you are stuck on a number of problems, remain calm and do your best to eliminate even one incorrect choice. As I mentioned previously, every time you cross out an incorrect answer you increase your chances of picking the correct answer.

SAT Math: Which Questions Should I Answer First?

Every student has a math section with which they feel most comfortable, and conversely, everyone has a math section or topic with which they are weaker in. Since the math sections of the SAT contain problems that range from pre-algebra to geometry to pre-calculus, it goes without saying that there will be questions that are more difficult and those that are more simple. Therefore, it is beneficial to go through the exam and answer as many of the easier questions as possible. 


Each math problem takes time, consideration, and, in many cases, scratch work; therefore, it is best to go through the section and answer as many easy questions as you possibly can. This will ensure that even if you struggle with a few at the end, you have already correctly answered a large proportion of the questions correctly. When you read a math question it is easy to determine whether the question targets a skill at which you excel or you struggle; after you determine whether or not it is going to be an easy problem or not, you can decide if this is a problem that you can feel confident about answering correctly.


I recommend going through the section and initially skipping over the problems that you think may take you a while to solve or that you believe you may not be able to solve at all. While we would like to believe that after hours of studying and practicing we would be able to solve every math problem, the reality is, for most of us, there will be a handful of problems that are very difficult and time-consuming to solve. In this case, after you have gone through the easy and medium questions you can return to the more difficult ones and devote the remainder of your time solving them.


By doing this you do not threaten to become involved in a problem, lose track of time, and miss out on the opportunity of correctly solving several problems that you may have considered easy. If you skip all of the problems that you may essentially skip anyway you ensure that you answer as many questions correctly as you can and then you can spend the remainder of the section time on questions that you wouldn’t feel bad skipping if necessary. I found that this personally prevented me from feeling discouraged that I wasted my time on a problem that I wasn’t able to solve anyway and I missed the chance to answer easier problems that just happened to appear at the end of the section.

 Learn even more SAT exam strategies by registering for one of TutaPoint’s online SAT Courses. All of TutaPoint’s SAT classes include professionally taught class, private, one-on-one online tutoring, books and materials.

TutaPoint.com/SAT/Crash-Course and TutaPoint.com/SAT/edgepreplive

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