Hopefully students who will take Saturday’s test have been working through enough practice questions that the following tips about time-efficiency are meaningful. The test, at three and half hours, is physically and mentally exhausting. If there are short-cuts that don’t hamper your strategy, you should take them. Here are some ways you can quickly (and still accurately) answer a variety of questions.
With the warning that you must avoid being “that kid who skipped a question, then mis-bubbled the rest”, I urge you to skip the “I, II, III”, “EXCEPT” and “NOT” questions. The reason is that your goal must be to collect as many points as possible in the limited time you have. Since this type of question takes more time and is worth just the same as that straight-forward circle question that’s coming next, just skip it. The same goes for “EXCEPT” and “NOT” critical reading questions. Your mantra, throughout this test, must be: “collect, collect, collect”.
Another math tip pertains to the section that has grid-ins starting at question 9. Hopefully you know that the other math sections go in order of difficulty. This one does too, but it starts over at the grid-ins. This means that 7 and 8 will be med/hard, then 9, 10, 11 will be easy. So skip 7 and 8, and move on to easy points. (Also, if time is running out during the grid-ins, just fill in the blanks with a number like “5″. There’s no wrong-answer penalty on 9-18 there.)
2) Critical Reading
This section features sentence completions, short passages, short dual passages, long passages and long dual passages. The sentence completions are in order of difficulty, so I would skip the last one and move on to the passages unless you have superior logic/vocab skills.
There is a speedy way to read the longer passages effectively: only slow down and take notes for certain parts. These lines include the first and last sentence of each paragraph. There are often questions about the content or strategy used in those spots. Then use your finger and stop to a crawl when you see a word like “thus”, “therefore”, “because”, etc… since the author will be making a claim there. Paraphrase with abbreviations next to those claims. Then put your finger back in place and speed through more lines. Stop and underline when you see quotes or when you notice figurative language like metaphors or similes. That will prepare you for the questions about those devices that are sure to come. Finally, if the author’s tone or attitude is expressed through a complimentary adjective or harsh metaphor, write an “A” with a circle plus a phrase like “angry at these scientists” or “doubts the guy who said that quote”. The questions, after all, are more about what the author is doing or suggesting, not about the scientific jargon being used.
To save time on the first part of the writing multiple choice, try to fix the sentence in your head before you look at the answer choices. Then match to that answer. Another tip is to check the shortest answer option; if it’s grammatically correct, there’s no reason the check the others- that’s the winner! And finally, if “being” is included in an answer choice, eliminate that choice. Unless it’s for “human being”, it is the form of “to be” that the SAT writers despise. So if you see “being that he was the first one there…” just cross it out immediately. And once again there is an order of difficulty, but it starts over with the different types of questions. So 11 and 29 are the hardest in this section. (The last “fixing paragraphs” part does not have such an order, but typically the ones about adding information are considered “hard”.)
Good luck on Saturday! Make sure your calculator is either charged or has fresh batteries!