The average student who may excel in reading and writing but not math, or who is excellent in math, but not reading must develop a smart strategy for how to take the test on test day. Thinking about how the test is scored and using that information to his or her advantage will improve their score immensely.
The SAT is scored based on a 2400 point scale, with each section making up 800 points of this. In each section, a ¼ of a point is deducted for each wrong answer. In some areas, the penalty for a wrong answer is increased to 1/3 of a point. In short, wrong answers kill scores. There are a few techniques to avoid wrong answers and improve your score.
- Read the entire question and all of the possible answers. Many multiple choice questions are worded to trip up students who do not bother to read the whole question. In the math section watch for key words in word problems such as PRODUCT, SUM, or QUOTIENT. These are words telling you to use a certain operation such as addition, multiplication, or division.
- Eliminate at least two possible answers. When reading all of the possible answers, you should be able to quickly eliminate two answers that cannot possibly be right. If you are prepared, your instinct is nearly infallible when making this decision. Go with your gut and trust your instinct when eliminating wrong answers.
- Leave a question blank if you do not know. Think of each multiple choice question as an opportunity to pick up points. If you know the answer, mark it and collect your points. If you can eliminate two answers, consider the risk: a 50/50 chance of getting the point or losing a quarter of one is usually acceptable. If you cannot eliminate at least two possible answers, leave it blank and do not hurt your score.
- Check your answers. Leave yourself time to go back and revisit your answers, especially the questions you left blank. Many mistakes are caught simply by looking at the question a second time.
Remember that the easier questions are at the beginning of each section and the harder ones are at the end. Each question is weighted the same, so collect your points on the easy ones quickly and efficiently to save time for the more difficult questions.
About The Author
Ray Narayan is the Founder of 1to1Tutor.Org, which provides online math tutoring for students studying algebra, geometry, calculus, pre-calculus, statistics, trigonometry, arithmetic, reading, science and more. 1to1Tutor.Org has qualified math tutors that use innovative technology to ensure that students fully understand the material and are well-prepared for success.