Two tips on the New SAT Math

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You Don't Have to Finish

We've all been taught in school that when you take a test, you have to finish it. If you answered only two-thirds of the questions on a high school math test, you probably wouldn't get a very good grade. But as we've already seen, the SAT is not at all like the tests you take in school. Most students don't know about the difference, so they make the mistake of doing all of the problems on both Math sections of the SAT.

Because they have only a limited amount of time to answer all the questions, most students rush through the questions they think are easy to get to the harder ones as soon as possible. At first, it seems reasonable to save more time for the more challenging questions, but think about how the test is scored for a minute. All correct answers are worth the same amount, no matter how difficult they are or how long they take to answer. So when students rush through a Math Test, they're actually spending less time on the easier questions (which they have a good chance of getting right), just so they can spend more time on the harder questions (which they have very little chance of getting right). Does this make sense? Of course not.

Here is the secret: On the Math Test, you don't have to answer every question in each section. In fact, unless you are aiming for a top score, you should intentionally skip some harder questions in each section. Most students can raise their Math scores by concentrating on correctly answering all of the questions that they find easy and medium. In other words…

Slow Down!

Most students do considerably better on the Math Test when they slow down and spend less time worrying about the more complex questions (and more time working carefully on the more straightforward ones). Haste causes careless errors, and careless errors can ruin your score. In most cases, you can actually raise your score by answering fewer questions. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, does it? If you're shooting for an 800, you'll have to answer every question correctly. But if your target is 550, you should ignore the hardest questions in each section and use your limited time wisely.

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