The New SAT: Answering Strategy

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“When should I guess?” This is a question that I have answered several thousand times through the 15 years of training Connecticut students to master the SAT. The new SAT has fortunately provided a simple answer: “yes.”

The current SAT had a guessing penalty such that there was a deduction for missed answers. The new SAT does not. While I am happy that I can focus more on teaching educational content to master the new SAT, I still must report that the answer is not as simple as I first provided.

Much like the ACT which has no guessing penalty, the new SAT still requires an answering strategy. This strategy largely relates to the timing of the test. Those who have taken the ACT know, for example, that the math section has 60 sections. The time allotted is 60 minutes. Most every student taking the ACT cannot finish all 60 questions in that time. We prescribe an answering strategy related to which questions students should spend time answering and which questions the students should “answer” but not spend time upon.

The new SAT requires a similar strategy. For example, the reading section has five long passages. The time allocation is sixty-five minutes. Some students will have a hard time completing all five passages in that time and/or they will lose focus in trying to do so. They will be prescribed an answering strategy that maximizes their ability to score highly.