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SAT Help

How can you make your SAT preparation a happier experience?

There are many questions that students have before they take their first SAT test and we want to help you.  The suggestions below are good rules to follow before you take an SAT as well as during an SAT exam.   If you have already taken the SAT at least once, don’t despair.  These suggestions are then for your next SAT exam.

1. Pretest Suggestions  

A. Know the SAT requirements for your desired colleges.  For example, some colleges in Texas require applicants to submit all SAT scores while others with allow students to “superscore” their results.  A college accepting superscores with allow applicants to report just one SAT English and one SAT math score.  The applicant can then choose their best English and best math score even if they occurred on different test dates.   So if all your desired schools allow superscoring, then it makes sense to take the SAT multiple times and focus your study time on the section for which you need the most improvement.  However, some colleges will require all SAT scores so if any of these schools are on your list, it is important that strategize your SATs and make sure you are well prepared before you take each SAT.   See the table below to see if your desired colleges allow superscores.

College College SAT Requirements
Abilene Christian Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
Baylor Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
Blinn Must Submit All Scores
LeTourneau Must Submit All Scores
Rice Must Submit All Scores
Sam Houston State Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
SFA Not Disclosed
TCU Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
Texas A&M Must Submit All Scores
Texas Tech Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
TX State-San Marcos Not Disclosed
U North Texas Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
UT Arlington Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
UT Austin Not Disclosed
U of Dallas Submit Only the Highest Score by Section
UT San Antonio Not Disclosed

B. Know your target score.    This should be a combination of knowing your abilities through SAT practice tests along with understanding the required scores from your desired colleges.  For example, if you seek a 700 in the English section, you can miss 10 questions while for a 600 target score, you can miss a combined 25 questions in the combined English sections.  On the combined math side, you can miss 11 questions and get a 700 or 22 to get a 600.

C. Bring a watch to the test site.  This will give you the ability to easily track your progress and make sure you allow enough time to complete each section.  It is easy to get stuck on a few questions that eat up the time you need for other questions.

D.  Make sure you are familiar with the instructions for each section.    This includes the theory behind different types of SAT questions within the math and English sections of the exam.

2. Suggestions During an SAT Exam

A. Be aware of the amount of time you have for each question in given section.  Make sure to track this closely to avoid spending too much time on a few questions and therefore not finishing a section.

* The Reading section section includes 65 minutes for 52 questions so you will have 1 minute and 15 seconds per question.   Be careful as there will be long reading passages with several questions from these passages, and it is easy to lose track of time in this section.

* The Writing and Language section has 35 minutes for 44 questions.  You therefore have approximately 50 seconds per question.  This may not seem like enough time but some of the questions can be answered quickly. 

* The Math No Calculator section includes 25 minutes for 20 questions so you will have 1 minute and 15 seconds per question.

* The Math Calculator section has 55 minutes for 38 questions.  With 1 minute and 30 seconds, this seems like plenty of time to complete all questions.  However, the last eight questions are grid-in or fill-in-the-blank problems so there will be no opportunity to pick the best answer for these questions.

B.  Pick a strategy for the reading section.  There are three options below and pick the one that best fits your strengths.  Then use that strategy consistently.

* Read the passage in full and then answer the questions for that passage.

* Skim the passage first and then answer the questions.

* Skip straight to the questions and go back to the reading passage to find the answers.

C. Strategy suggestions for the writing test.

* Memorize rules such as when to use commas, colons, and semicolons.

* If two or more answers are grammatically correct, then choose the most concise answer.

D. Strategy suggestions for the math tests. 

* Memorize the math formulas as well as make sure you brush up on your multiplication and division tables.  The formulas include the areas and volumes as well as special rules for right triangles.   Memorizing the formulas will save you valuable time on both math sections.

E. Don’t spend too much time on any one question.  Even though we calculated the time allowed for each question in No. 3 above, the questions have different levels of difficulty.  Generally, the questions in each section start out easier and get more difficult.  Therefore, it is ideal to answer the earlier questions in less than the per question time allowance to give yourself more time to answer the difficult questions at the end of each section. 

F. It is ok to skip a question and come back to it later.  If an earlier question or two seems difficult, it is ok to skip those questions and come back to them later as long as you have sufficient time in the given section.  The key point mentioned is not to get bogged down on one question especially those in the beginning parts of each section.

G. There is only one correct answer for each question.   Also, the right answer should be 100% correct.  One method to getting to a correct answer is to eliminate all the wrong answers so that hopefully you are down to 1 or 2 possibilities.  In another situation, one possible answer may be mostly right but with some part of the answer that is not right.  Do not pick such an answer.  It is better to pick an answer that is totally unfamiliar to you than to pick an answer that you know is 75% correct but 25% incorrect.  

H. As a last resort it is ok to guess.    Try to eliminate any possible answers and then make sure you choose one of the remaining answers for each question.  This is where time management as explained above is important.  You should not have any blanks for answers after completing the test.

I hope these tips will help you successfully prepare and ace your SAT exam.