SAT/ACT Strategies You're Too "SMART" To Use

You've worked SO hard studying and doing homework so that you can get a high SAT score. Well, maybe you're TOO smart for this test! Let's dumb things down a bit.

  • Measure the Drawing!
  • Sure, you've memorized that the distance formula is "distance equals the square root the sum of the difference of x sub-one and x sub-two squared and the difference of y sub-one and y sub-two squared." But by the time you've finished writing down the formula, the lazy test taker is already on to the next question, because they used their pencil to measure a known distance in the diagram, and then used the pencil as a ruler to measure the unknown distance.

    The fine print: technically SAT questions aren't always drawn to scale. But if it looks pretty close, you're probably OK just eyeballing the distances rather than doing the math.
  • Just Guess "6"
  • You've conquered your fear of MOST of the "Open-Ended" math questions, but there are still a few tough ones... and without answer choices, you're screwed! Why bother even guessing, when the number of possible answer choices is practically infinite? Well, just put down "6" and move on to an easier question.

    The fine print: single digits are the most common answers to open-ended questions, and "6" is correct slightly more frequently than the others. Your odds are slim, but you have nothing to lose, because getting it wrong and leaving it blank both get you zero points (there's no "guessing penalty" on post-2016 SAT's).

  • Shorter is Better
  • Yep, you know your participles from your prepositions, and you can expound eloquently on the merits of the Oxford comma. But you've got two Answer Choices on a Writing question, and you're not sure which answer fits stylistically better with authorial intent. CHILL OUT! Choose the shorter answer choice, because simpler is usually better on SAT Writing.

    The fine print: when there are answer choices of different lenghts, you are usually being tested on avoiding redundancy... look around and you'll see that the longer answer choices repeat information in the non-underlined part of the sentence. An exception: if the shortest answer has a PRONOUN in it, you'll usually need to choose an answer that uses the appropriate NOUN instead.
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