9 Ways to Increase the SAT Score by 203 Points or More
1. The key to the math section is: reading.
Whenever you are stumped on a question, re-read it. Then read it again. Test question creators have recently added subtle word changes to the math section questions to make them increasingly difficult.
2. Math questions become more difficult as you go through each section.
If you are nearing the end of a section and find that you cannot figure out the last few questions, don’t waste your time trying to answer them. Your time will be better spent reviewing your answers to the questions in the beginning and middle of the section. Keep in mind that all the questions are weighted the same. You won’t get extra points for answering the hardest questions. Furthermore, a few blank answers will not make a material impact on your score.
3. Avoid random guessing in the multiple choice sections
The SAT’s scoring formula has been adjusted to penalize you for incorrect answers. As a result, you will not benefit from random guessing. Truth is, you lose more points for answering a question incorrectly than you do for not answering it at all. As a result, you will not be rewarded for random guessing. So, if you have absolutely no idea what the correct answer is to a question, we suggest you simply skip it and move on.
It is to your advantage to guess at the answer, however, when you can eliminate at least one answer choice as incorrect. Usually you will be able to identify at least one choice that is clearly wrong. Eliminating even one incorrect choice will improve your odds of selecting the correct answer.
The only exception to this rule is when you face a problem-solving question that requires you to write in an answer. Since you don’t have a set of answer choices to give you a clue as to the correct solution, your best strategy is to solve the problem to the best of your ability and write in your answer.
4. Know the directions ahead of time.
This probably sounds like self-evident advice. However, we mention it because we’ve often had clients tell us how they inadvertently wound up wasting precious test time by going back to re-read directions after the test had begun, or by not making it back from their hourly breaks promptly. Remember, these activities will take time away from working on the questions.
5. Eliminate the obvious but “sneaky” wrong choices.
With practice, you should begin to recognize how the SAT presents deceptive but obvious incorrect answer choices. There are several common patterns here that will begin to become apparent.
6. For the Reading Comprehension section, be aware of “strong” answers.
In this section, avoid answer choices that use extreme wording. Examples include: only, never, and all.
7. Know and study the common writing section topics.
These topics include the five grammar rules tested most often, specifically: modifiers, subject/verb agreement, pronouns, parallelism, and idioms.
8. Beware and have a deep understanding of common vocabulary words.
These words appear frequently on the reading section: ambivalent, underscore, disinterested.
9. Skip questions that are exceedingly difficult for you.
Every question on the SAT is worth the same, equal number of points. So, it’s to your advantage to occasionally skip questions you find difficult to answer… and come back to them later. This two-pass system will create your own efficient order of difficulty. Generally speaking, you have approximately one minute per question if you finish them all.
Thoughts on Retaking the SAT
Obviously, it will be in your best interest to do your best on the SAT the first time you take it. If, however, you believe your test score is not indicative of your best ability, it will generally not hurt you to retake this important exam. Remember, most colleges will only look at your highest test score. Many of the admissions officers will even be favorably impressed if you show an improvement in your test scores.
Practice, Practice, Practice
While all the tips revealed in this report can help students considerably, there’s simply no substitute for putting in the time on practice. Students will see the biggest improvement in scoring by practicing the same type of questions that will be on the actual SAT.
Finally, test takers will increase their scores immensely by spending the most time studying and practicing questions in their weakest subject area. Practice in this area will help provide the most efficient use of test-prep time.
Here’s to great SAT scores,
Editor’s Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked one of the top ten college funding advisors in the country. He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple” which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.
Scott is the co-founder and a principal of Ohio-based College Planning Network, LLC, one of the nation’s largest and most reputable college and financial aid servicing centers. CPN is a member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling and the Better Business Bureau.
Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational teleseminars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He’s been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.